Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Isn't that special?

The 19th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature convenes at 4 p.m. today. Lawmakers failed to pass a tax package but did complete every spending bill but THE BIG ONE ... the K-12 education spending package.

Kenny Guinn, the gaming industry, the teachers union and the political establishment will lean on wavering lawmakers, claiming that any vote to "cut" school spending is a vote against "the children."

But there are two obvious candidates for the cutting room floor: A $181 million increase in teacher pay, including $102 million for higher salaries, $50 million for health benefits, and $29 million for the pension plan; and $226 million to fund the teacher full-employement act, aka class-size reduction, a program which doesn't improve student achievement an iota.

And there's some good news: Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, the 74-year-old, ultra-establishment, 800-lb. gorilla of this and every legislative session, lost what amounts to a vote of confidence from his Republican caucus when he was informed there weren't enough votes to pass any version of the gross-receipts tax from the Senate. A defanged Raggio might well decide to hang it up when the session ends, return to Reno, and allow a geniune fiscal conservative from Las Vegas (freshman Barbara Cegavske is my pick) to take control of that body.

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