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Budget Deal: Fooled You Again, Charlie Brown!

The devil is always in the details, but the “deal” announced today between the governor and state legislators can’t be seen as anything but a major capitulation by Republicans and a huge win for the forces of big government and their amen corner in the liberal media.

If this deal goes down as reported, Republicans have agreed to yet another massive “temporary” tax increase, now scheduled to sunset in June 2013 (“But this time we really, really, really mean it.”) and got in return a bag of magic education reform beans which won’t result in even a modicum of increased school choice for parents.

Bad teachers will still be allowed to dumb down our kids but will now be put on “double secret probation” if they do, and poor performing students will still receive “social promotions” to the next grade. In addition, thanks to the “Close Enough” bill already passed, kids can now graduate despite failing the exit exams required to, you know, graduate.

Good grief.

And apparently “vouchers” became a four-letter word for a governor who had all the cards to play…and instead folded.

At best, the announced education reforms amount to rearranging the deck chairs on the public school Titanic. Our kids will continue to be trapped in Failure Factories. Welcome to Hotel Public Education. You can check in, but you can never leave.

The governor also touted in a news release that “The agreement completely eliminates the modified business tax on 70 percent of Nevada businesses, meaning 115,281 Nevada businesses will no longer pay the MBT.”

OK, fine. Except this was already part of the governor’s revised budget. So he agreed to boost taxes in return for getting something he already had? This constitutes a “groundbreaking agreement”?

The governor’s press release also claims that “Total state spending will decrease biennium-over-biennium by $500 million.” But if we’re really decreasing spending by $500 million, then why was it necessary to raise taxes by $600 million? Must be public school math – from this day forward called “Clinger Math.”

But to put this in perspective, the supposed cut of $500 million in spending comes off the ENTIRE state budget, not the general fund budget – which actually appears to have increased by $300-800 million, depending on whose figures you use. That’s a piddling 3% cut in the midst of the worst recession in history from a total budget of $17 billion.

Big whoop. I know of companies who have had to slash their own operating budgets by 50 percent or more. And even that wasn’t enough for many others. They had to close their doors completely.

For another conservative perspective on the fiscal aspects of the budget deal, click here and read NPRI’s take.

As for legislative Republicans, once again they fractured, caved, rolled over and enjoyed having their tummies rubbed by media types who despise them, yet now applaud them for being “bipartisan” and “statesmen” – which only seems to apply when Republicans do what Democrats want, not the other way around.

The Republican Assembly Caucus sent out a press release late today claiming the budget deal was “a win for all Nevadans.” Wow! Raising taxes $600 million is a “win”? I’d sure hate to see what they consider a “loss.”

And then there’s freshman Assemblyman Ira Hansen, who made “construction defect reform” his hill to die for this session. After the budget deal was announced, David Schwartz of the Las Vegas Sun tweeted that Hansen said those looking for relief from trail lawyer abuse on construction defect lawsuits got “nothing.” And yet he’s going to vote for the budget deal anyway because he’s a “team player.”

Awwww, isn’t that precious.

On the Senate side, the deal was reportedly made possible because Sen. Joe Hardy, who has never met a tax hike he didn’t want to support, reportedly received a phone call from Harry Reid this morning telling him that if he voted for the tax hike he’d get his cherished Boulder City bypass.

Hardy was always willing to sell out provided he got his 30 pieces of silver. And he did.

The surprise, though, for many people, but not me, was the flip-flop by Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, who just a few weeks ago said the only way he’d vote for the tax hike was if Jesus himself walked through the door. I guess the rest of us missed the Second Coming in Carson City earlier today.

Don’t be surprised to see Sen. Kieckhefer resign his Senate seat before the next election and move on to a lucrative career as a paid lobbyist. He came, he raised taxes, he went.

But you have to give the GOP credit for one thing: Consistency. Legislative Republicans never blow an opportunity to blow an opportunity and boy, did they ever blow a major opportunity this session! Nevada Republicans are the Chicago Cubs of politics. Well, there’s always next season.

Two final points….

Can we finally get over this “Oh, how in the world will we ever get by without Bill Raggio around to close out the session?” By the looks of it, this might be the smoothest close-out in history. Seems Sen. Raggio’s end-of-session gamesmanship was the problem, not the solution, huh?

And…HELLO, NEVADA TEA PARTIERS! Yes, Barack Obama is bad. Yes, Harry Reid is bad. And yes, Shelley Berkley is bad. But folks, you have major problems right here in your own back yard to deal with and the ability to actually make a real difference.

Once the final votes are taken this week, you’ll finally know for sure which legislative Republicans sold you out which ones stood tall and refused to buckle. At that point, you’ll have your targets for GOP challenges in 2012.

Gentlemen (and ladies), start your primaries!