Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford has sent an e-mail to supporters and constituents suggesting the next two-year state budget is facing an attack from "extreme right-wing" interests who will use the current economic crisis to "dismantle our state."
"When Nevada's Legislature returns to session on February 7, we will face an unprecedented budget crisis and incredibly hard choices," said Horsford, D-Las Vegas. "As state Senate majority leader, I will be keeping you informed about the decisions being made and how they impact you and your family."
"Sadly, extreme right-wing interests are lining up to use the budget crisis to dismantle our state," Horsford said in his e-mail.
He did not identify the extreme right wing interests and he could not be reached for comment.
Asked for a response to the e-mail, newly elected Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said Horsford, "has decided to adopt ugly rhetoric and scare tactics to get in the way of the facts."
"It is my earnest hope that Sen. Horsford will realize that it is incumbent on all of us to work together to turn this economy around and get people working again," he said. "That means we need to work to make Nevada more competitive and create an environment that is truly friendly to small business."
Horsford has suggested in past interviews that some level of tax increase will be needed to maintain critical state programs and public education in the 2011-13 general fund budget.
This position is at odds with GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has said he will submit a balanced budget to the Legislature without any tax or fee increases. The state is expected to have about $5.3 billion in general fund revenue, well below current spending levels due to expiring temporary tax increases and the loss of federal stimulus funds.
The exact size of any shortfall remains in dispute.
Horsford, who will run the state Senate with an 11-10 edge over Republicans, said in his letter that, "some things are worth fighting for - like our kids' education, keeping promises to retirees and preserving an already fragile safety net for struggling working families."
"I did not enter public service to slash funding for our schools or leave our most vulnerable citizens without care," he said. "That's why I will fight every day to protect Nevada families from the extreme agenda that threatens our future."
Roberson said Horsford does not have the votes to raise taxes.
Roberson defeated incumbent Democrat Joyce Woodhouse to win the Clark 5 Senate seat and reduce the majority edge to one seat.
"Now, to gin up support for more job-killing tax increases and an ever-expanding state government, he wants to call others 'right-wing extremists' who intend to 'dismantle our state,' " Roberson said. "The fact is, Senator Horsford does not, and will not, have the votes to pass a job-killing tax increase. He can huff and puff all he wants, but elections do have consequences."