Setting Amodei’s record straight

There has been quite a hullabaloo over U.S. House candidate Mark Amodei’s votes in the Nevada Legislature. Everyone has an opinion, and they are sticking to them. When speaking to the more conservative set, the mere mention of the name Mark Amodei elicits an immediate reaction, and not always a positive one. To put it in perspective, prior to the GOP state central committee meeting, I asked a very conservative central committee member his opinion of Amodei. His response? “He fought to raise our taxes, and he fought for collective bargaining. He’s dead to me.”


So what does this all mean?

Collective bargaining: In 2003, Amodei told the Nevada Appeal, “I supported collective bargaining for state workers four years ago, again two years ago and will support it this year.” This needs some clarification. The rights he was fighting for had nothing to do with salaries or benefits. Amodei felt teachers wielded too much power in relation to other state workers, and their contracts were too generous. Amodei supported extending some of these rights to other state workers in an attempt to make sure all state workers were equal. This was not an issue of expanding union power; this was an issue of fairness. Our state employees have a certain set of rights, and it’s only fair that these rights are standardized across the board. Amodei was correct in this endeavor.

The 2003 Tax Vote: In 2003, the Senate Republicans had few options. The Democrats held a majority in the Assembly, and Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn publicly supported a tax increase. Nevada was going to have a tax increase one way or another, and Senate leadership knew it. Enter Mark Amodei. In a refreshing burst of bipartisanship, Amodei partnered with Sen. Terry Care, D-LV, to craft a tax plan which was an alternative to Gov. Guinn’s dreaded gross receipts tax. Yes, it was a tax increase, but pragmatism ruled. It’s a welcome change of pace to see our elected officials actually coming up with real ideas rather than wrapping themselves in the “Don’t blame me, I voted against it” cloak. We elect our representatives for a reason, and sometimes ideology needs to be set aside. Responsible government doesn’t always mean voting no, sometimes it means working together to offer a viable alternative. Novel concept, right?

Amodei was not alone in his support of this plan. The Carson City Chamber of Commerce, for example, ran a full page advertisement the day after the vote commending Sen. Amodei and Sen. Robert Townsend for their tireless fight against a gross receipts tax. It’s disappointing that many have distilled Amodei’s actions in 2003 to nothing more than, “You supported taxes, so I don’t like you.” It’s not that simple. There must come a time in this country when smart politics and wise government intersect, and there are many on both sides of the aisle who have forgotten this. We send representatives to Carson City and to Washington, D.C., to govern and to legislate, not to craft some sort of hyper-political “record” so they can ensure their own reelection.

Amodei is not a “read my lips, no new taxes” politician. Rather, he has been smart on taxes and spending. His record reflects that he does not support new spending without the means to pay for it, which is a welcome trait among anyone who holds public office. Too many think our tax dollars are magical play money that can be used to fund endless pet projects or install a He-Man workout room in the Legislative building.

By and large, Mark Amodei served us well in state government, and if elected, he will do the same in the House. Sure there are things to disagree with, but in the words of Voltaire, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.