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Mini-Muth’s Truths: February 9, 2011

Tried getting through airport security for the first time on my way to DC last night for the annual CPAC conference with my newly-purchased, official Penn & Teller metal “Bill of Rights” card in my pocket. I can now attest, with metaphysical certitude, that the Bill of Rights will set off warning bells with the TSA’s security scanners and the TSA agents will NOT be happy campers to discover it was your Bill of Rights that set their machines off.

My flight wasn’t getting into BWI until late, and you can’t go into a 24-hour Smith’s in Maryland and pick up a bottle of Jack Daniels once you arrive. You have to figure out where to find a package liquor store. So when I saw a liquor store just outside the gate area before boarding my plane, I thought I’d save myself the trouble and just pick up a bottle to take with me. Not.

Apparently, at U.S. airports such as McCarran in Las Vegas, a Canadian can go into those airport liquor stores and purchase a bottle of VO to take with them on the plane home; however, an American citizen isn’t allowed to purchase a bottle of Grey Goose to take with him to the capital city of what is supposed to be the freest nation on the planet. And people wonder why I hate the stupidity of our government so much?

Important reminder from the LVRJ: “No hearings were even held on the bill to increase car registration fees” in the closing hours of the 2009 legislative session. Expect Democrats to try the same trick at the end of the 2011 session, as well. But will voters/GOP legislators be fooled again?

Another reminder – and this can’t be repeated often enough – Democrats can’t pass any tax hikes without three GOP votes in the state Senate. They can probably buy off Dean Rhoads, but six of the remaining nine have already gone publicly on record saying they back Gov. Sandoval’s position that the budget must be balanced without raising taxes of fees.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford needs two of the remaining three Republican senators to pass a tax hike and Gov. Sandoval needs two of the three to take tax hikes completely off the table for the duration of the 2011 session. And in case you’re keeping score at home, the three GOP senators who remain in play are James Settelmeyer, Ben Kieckhefer and Joe Hardy.

Whose side are these three Republicans on: Democrat SML Steven Horsford’s or Republican Gov. Sandoval? Inquiring conservative and GOP minds wanna know. Now. Not at the end of the session.

A Las Vegas Sun story on Tuesday mis-portrays the budget situation facing Nevada’s Legislature this session. The paper describes “a hole in the state budget roughly a third of the size of current spending.” That’s simply not true.

The Democrats want the public to believe there’s a $2 billion hole in the budget. But that’s only potentially true if you look at the ENTIRE state budget of around $17 billion. And $2 billion isn’t a third of $17 billion.

What the Sun is trying to do here is take the overall overspending budget deficit of $2 billion and apply it to just general fund spending, not overall state spending. You see, general fund spending proposed by Gov. Sandoval is just under $6 billion, so if there really was a $2 billion overspending deficit in the general fund, the one-third figure would be accurate. But it’s not.

The estimated overspending deficit in the general fund is $600 million. Current spending is $6.4 billion, less Sandoval’s proposed $5.8 billion general fund budget. The Sun, in its effort to put the overspending deficit in the worst possible light, is comparing apples to oranges. Don’t be fooled.

University Regent Ron Knecht is making a case this week that K-12 education should be cut instead of higher ed. His point is well taken that we keep adding funding to K-12 without getting any real bang for the buck and maybe it’s time for K-12 to take the same budget hit every other government department has been taking. But here’s the difference.

K-12 attendance is compulsory; higher ed isn’t. And when we’re talking about K-12 students, we’re talking about kids, not adults. For all intents and purposes, kids can’t go get jobs to pay for their schooling; adults, even young adults, can. So while K-12 may well be due for a little trimming around the waste, there’s no argument to shift that money to higher ed. Better to give the savings back to taxpayers.

Anjeanette Damon of the Las Vegas Sun is reporting that while Republican Assembly Minority Leader Pete “Tax My Meat” Goicoechea – who infamously proposed a grocery tax last summer – co-signed a letter with GOP Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness last week committing to supporting Gov. Sandoval’s no-new-taxes budget, his signature was apparently made in pencil with a big eraser.

“At this point,” Goicoechea told Damon this week, “we support the governor’s budget and there are no tax increases in it.” But Damon noted that Goicoechea “waited a beat” and then pointedly repeated, “At this point.”

Oh, how happy the governor must be to have such a pillar of strength and commitment in the foxhole with him. May as well have Gumby as the Minority Leader. Or a bowl of jello.

BTW, did I mention that it was Republican leader Goicoechea who nominated Democrat Assemblyman John Oceguera to be Speaker of the Assembly on Monday? How lovely. I wonder if they went to Johnny O’s new gym afterwards and held hands while running on the new treadmills singing “We Are the World”?

Speaking of which…get this. When stories came out that Johnny O had converted a room in the legislative building into a fitness club, we assumed it was a separate room in the building which everyone had access to. But no. Just found out yesterday that the new gym was actually built IN THE SPEAKER’S OFFICE.

CORRECTION: The new gym is NOT in the Speaker’s office; it’s in a separate room up on the third floor.

That’s also where one of only two showers are in the building. I don’t even want to THINK what that means!

Because competition from the likes of Target, Costco and Dollar stores is nipping at its heels and bottom line, WalMart has been forced to go back to basics and make some serious changes. “We are running a better business now because our competitors cause us to raise our game,” WalMart CEO Mike Duke told the Associated Press this week.

And yet some education “professionals” and the teachers union continue to block any and all reforms that might instill some real market competition in our public school systems. These people are hurting our children and our country, and it’s high time we start getting mad as hell about it.

Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is calling for balancing the state’s budget by using existing revenue rather than raising taxes. His plan includes modest reductions in higher ed spending in the neighborhood of 7 percent and cuts in K-12 education which come to about 84-cents per student per day.

Nevada Democrats are having a cow.

But as the Washington Post reported this week, “Some of the deepest and most politically painful cuts have been proposed by Democratic governors in traditionally liberal states.”

For example, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has “proposed closing most of a $10 billion budget gap by reducing both education and Medicaid,” while California Gov. Jerry Brown “has proposed closing a $25 billion budget gap by…slashing funding for higher education by as much as 20 percent.” Meanwhile, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, another Democrat, is boasting of his Sandoval-like budget that “contains no tax increases; it raises no fees.”

When will the MSM catch on that Sandoval’s proposed budget is actually pretty moderate compared to what some Democrats are doing in other states and that it’s folks like Sen. Horsford and University Chancellor Dan Klaich who are really the extremists on the budget?

Gov. Sandoval proposes turning a pair of fire stations up on Mt. Charleston over to Clark County to save the state some money. The county, naturally, is whining about it like that little pig with his head out the window in those Geico commercials.

Here’s the thing: In turning the exact same service over to the county that the state is currently providing, the county says it will cost an additional $2-3 million more than the state is paying. Why? Because while the state successfully operates the stations with about 10 firefighters and one captain combined, the county has 12-18 highly over-paid firefighters per station. In addition, the LVRJ reports “the county probably would have to build a new station” to meet county codes, at a cost of several million dollars.”

Now, if the state can operate the fire protection service with a third of the number of employees using the existing facilities, doesn’t it make more sense for the county to change its over-staffing numbers and revise its building codes rather than incur the obviously unnecessary cost of doing business the way it’s currently doing business?

Missed this one last week or so from the Nevada News Bureau. Apparently Board of Regents Chairman James Dean Leavitt said he wants to raise taxes rather than cut spending. In unrelated news, the sun rose in the east again today.

Citizen Outreach CEO Dan Burdish, who is permanently detailed to the Carson City Legislature for the duration of the 2011 session, found an interesting tidbit this morning. “Thirty bills have been introduced that raise taxes/fees,” he reports. “All but two have been introduced by Committees. Sens. Joe Hardy and Mark Manendo are the only two Legislators who have tax/fee increases tied directly to their names.”

Manendo is a Democrat; so no surprise there. Hardy is the only remaining Republican member of the state Assembly who voted for the Mother of All Tax Hikes in 2003 who is still in office. He also voted for the third largest tax hike in state history in 2009; the room tax. That he’s now a state senator who has NOT come out publicly in support of Gov. Sandoval’s no-new-taxes position and has a bill in to raise taxes isn’t much of a surprise. Disappointing, yes. But not a surprise.

What’s worse, however, is that Sen. Hardy’s new bill would impose regulations, fees and security deposits on people who write grants for a living for non-profit charities such as the American Cancer Society, Feed the Children, the United Way, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, the Boys and Girls Club, Shriners Hospitals, Easter Seals, and…well, you get the picture. Too bad Sen. Hardy doesn’t.

Liberal Sen. Sheila Leslie (D-PLAN) tweeted the following this morning: “Little slip by Andres Clinger in mispronouncing Nevada. #embarassing.”

Yep, almost as embarrassing as misspelling “Andrew.” People in glass houses, Ms. Leslie…