Saturday, July 12, 2003

Gag me

The ever-inane Las Vegas Sun editorializes that the Supreme Court's decision was "a victory for the children." (Must .. not ... spew.)

Chief Justice Deborah Agosti, who wrote the court's opinion, noted that the deadlock in the Legislature had created a crisis for public schools because the Legislature has failed to meet its constitutional responsibility to fund public education for the upcoming school year. Basically, the court found that the constitutional requirement for the Legislature to fund education trumped the requirement that tax increases be passed by a two-thirds vote.

Crisis ... not

But what is this responsibility, exactly? Let's go to the constitution, Article 11:

Section 2. Uniform system of common schools. The legislature shall provide for a uniform system of common schools, by which a school shall be established and maintained in each school district at least six months in every year, and any school district which shall allow instruction of a sectarian character therein may be deprived of its proportion of the interest of the public school fund during such neglect or infraction, and the legislature may pass such laws as will tend to secure a general attendance of the children in each school district upon said public schools. (Emphasis mine.)

Clearly, this provision was included to guarantee that kids in the sparsely populated rural counties would receive public schooling. But any "conflict" between the mandate that schools be funded and the necessity to balance the state's budget was invented by the court from whole cloth. The court could have ruled that existing tax revenues would easily cover the spending bills passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Kenny Guinn, leaving more than enough money to finance the operation of a school in each district for at least six months during the forthcoming school year. If the governor wished to ask lawmakers to appropriate more money for the schools -- and raise additional revenues by the necessary 2/3 majorities -- he would certainly be at his liberty to do so ... and republican government in Nevada would be preserved.

Far-fetched? Of course. But at least it's legal.

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