KISS and make up (your mind)

Dear Governor-elect:

Now the fun is over, the work begins, and you will lead us to the promised land or get led to the guillotines that dot our modern political landscape.

Not actually, of course. There is no political promised land, and there are no guillotines awaiting you.

But a biblical-style land of milk and honey beyond the desert is a great metaphor, just as an ugly reminder of beheading machines from the French revolution era is a great way to focus the mind sharply. Why? Because these promised land and pain-in-the-neck rhetorical devices can remind you why you ran.

You told me early on in your bid to knock off Gov. Jim Gibbons and take on Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid that you love Nevada and relish the chance to tackle its problems in tough times. You got your wish. Don’t blow it by being less than bold.

You must KISS and make up your mind, day in and day out, without fear or favor as you take on a role that will tax your experience and skills. In this case, KISS stands for “Keep it simple, Sandoval.”

Life offers us complexity, yet it is basically a set of binary decisions. Make them and move on, dealing with the consequences as evidence warrants. A wise man once counseled the quality of decision is good whether the decision is worth a damn or not.

Forthwith and unsolicited, a few suggestions follow for Nevada’s next decider.

First, keep Andrew Clinger as budget director, if possible. But immediately tear apart the Gibbons-Clinger state budget proposal, going through it to dump all but the un-dumpable.

Unfortunately, state government is full of un-dumpables, so be vigilant. Gibbons four years ago didn’t do this with Kenny Guinn’s budget, and he paid for it later.

Secondly, don’t break your pledge against raising tax rates; instead, lower one but broaden the application. Without a state income tax, the main avenue out of this wasteland-like dead revenue desert is through the state sales tax. Apply it to services while lowering the rate. No exceptions, not even for lawyers. It’s 21st century taxation. A guillotine is on your right flank, but don’t flinch and move fast. No risk, no gain.

Next, horse trade the above—Democrats want “revenue enhancement” more than alcoholics want booze—for budget cuts and real education change. Get vouchers as well as charter schools. Secure a tight lid on administrators’ and teachers’ salaries, but allow exceptions for administrators with extensive private business management experience.

Fourth, use your veto-power judiciously to achieve the above hat trick (lowered budget, revenue revamp and education accountability). Democrats love spending. Herd them into spending only with a touchstone to reality. This won’t be a piece of cake, but without supermajority legislative control, they must come to you. Remember this above all: Work with your GOP legislative associates and make the opposition come to you.

Finally, don’t insulate yourself in office. Get good advisers you trust and who support you, but get a few who serve like medieval court fools. These are grounded folks you know will tell you what they think, not just what they think you want to hear. Then mix with regular folks also. That’s the best guillotine-avoidance tip I can give.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Heartiest congratulations.

But past is merely prologue. You inherited such a mess, there isn’t time to bask in the glow of victory for long.