Put the Legislature under house arrest

Now that all three branches of Nevada state government -- legislative, administrative and judicial -- are into the tax-and-budget fray, what will be the result?

Higher taxes.

But we already knew that, as nobody in the Legislature is arguing taxes don't need to rise at all to pay for increasing costs in a growing state. The questions from the beginning have been: How much and who pays?

So it's still up to the Legislature to determine. The Nevada Supreme Court can only order the Legislature to meet its constitutional mandates.

They are, as noted in Attorney General Brian Sandoval's petition to the court early Tuesday morning:

-- Article 9, Section 2: "The legislature shall provide by law for an annual tax sufficient to defray the estimated expenses of the state for each fiscal year; and whenever the expenses of any year exceed the income, the legislature shall provide for levying a tax sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency, as well as the estimated expenses of such ensuing year or two years."

-- Article 11, Section 6: "Support of university and common schools by direct legislative appropriation.EIn addition to other means provided for the support and maintenance of said university and common schools, the legislature shall provide for their support and maintenance by direct legislative appropriation from the general fund, upon the presentation of budgets in the manner required by law."

Sandoval's petition would have the Supreme Court order the Legislature to act by a "time certain" -- in other words, set a new deadline to balance the state budget. But it's not at all clear what would happen if legislators miss that deadline.

The court need do nothing more than place the members of the Legislature under house arrest in the Legislative Building in Carson City and prohibit them from leaving until the budget is balanced.

Case closed.


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