Holding the Legislature accountable

How many workers will be added to the state's payroll?

How will the state's revenue plan affect school budgets?

How much will the university system's budget really go up?

These are good questions, and every day we are getting answers to them. Sometimes we get different answers, depending on who's doing the calculating, but each one represents an interesting debate on Nevada's all-important budget.

The distressing aspect to us is that this debate is going on now -- three weeks after the end of Nevada's constitutionally mandated 120-day session.

In fact, as far as we can tell, there are still more questions than answers about the budget and whatever tax plan may wind up funding it.

We suppose at some point our disappointment and dismay over the failures of the 72nd session of the Nevada Legislature will begin to fade. But not yet.

At this point, with the Legislature set to convene again next week, we remain outraged -- and, we think, the taxpaying public remains outraged -- that its members were unable to complete their most fundamental and important task.

Gov. Kenny Guinn, for as much criticism as he has taken, at least met his deadline for presenting a balanced budget back in February. We're beginning to wonder if the Legislature's ineffectual wrangling shouldn't be disregarded, Guinn's proposal put into effect, and lawmakers told to come back to try again in two years.

Some blame the two-thirds majority of Assembly and Senate needed for any tax increase. We say, thank goodness it's in place.

The ability of a minority to waylay the largest tax increase in Nevada history is just the kind of safeguard it was envisioned to be when enacted. Without it, a tax plan -- barely analyzed, wholly undiscussed by the public -- would have been forced down our throats in the waning minutes of June 2.

A powerful minority can hold the majority accountable. So far, that's about the only thing positive to have happened.


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