Feel the sting

We knew it was going to hurt. We knew from the day the gavel opened the 26th special session of the Nevada Legislature that it was going to hurt. Who are we kidding? We were fairly certain when the Legislature adjourned the 2009 regular session on June 2, 2009, that the upcoming—although unannounced at that time—special session was going to hurt.

We just didn’t know how badly.

And the thing is, we still don’t know how bad it’s going to get.

And there are still those citizens who seek to avoid bearing their part of the pain. As the governor moves to protect his cronies, the weight of the budget crises will continue to fall on the backs of the voters who we can only hope will throw the incompetent leader out of office in November.

Governor Jim Gibbons reportedly has his veto pen out—his famous, brand new, completely supercilious veto stamp apparently as useless as his ideas—to veto the four 10-hour workday plan for state agencies.

The irony is that legislators will almost certainly have to override the governor’s veto—in as little as four months after the November election—when the Legislature meets again in regular session in February 2011. All he’s doing, as he has done so many times during his “administration,” is forced the tough work onto future leadership.

And here’s the thing, it was the governor who suggested the four-day plan in the first place. It includes a method to create exceptions for offices that can’t do the four-day thing, but our power hungry governor would rather enact some of the bill’s provisions through executive order than through the legislative process. (And that will make it easier to overturn those provisions if anyone cares to challenge them in court, regulations without empowering legislation being less legally enforceable.)

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “The administration projected a $12 million savings through the bill: $5.3 million in utility costs and $6.8 million in employee salary savings,” although lawmakers [ironic pause] discovered a way to avoid salary cuts.

All right, all right. Maybe $5 million is not much in comparison to the $887 million state revenue shortfall, but in whose conservative world is $5 million a number to sneeze at? The majority of state workers supported the plan. That $5.3 million utility savings would make our government considerably greener in these days of climate change. And one other aspect of the plan is that those government offices would be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, which adds time before and after normal work hours for regular working folk to conveniently take advantage of open government offices.

The governor’s rationalizations for this when his veto statement is released to the public will no doubt be fascinating.

Also fascinating are the rumors coming out of the University of Nevada, Reno about how the latest budget cuts will gut the state’s higher education. Yes, it hurts like hell—and again, it’s the regular people who will suffer—but while closures and gossip are getting all the press, the plan seems to be more about reorganization. Check out the provost’s proposal at www.unr.edu/provost/StrategicPlan/curricular-review-proposal-03012010.pdf.