Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson doubts Sandoval will veto budget for vouchers
Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, said Friday it’s not likely Gov. Brian Sandoval will veto the budget bills to try save the school vouchers program.
“The governor has made it clear there will be no special session,” he said in a briefing in his office. “Vetoing the budget would put us into special session so I don’t expect him to veto the budget bills.”
Anderson said that means his caucus has just three days to work something out but he said realistically, if the Educational Savings Accounts are to survive, it will be up to the governor to make a deal with Democrats.
As for the chances ESAs will survive, he said, “Frankly, I’m less optimistic than I have been all session long.”
Democrats were in the process of approving the four budget bills that don’t require a two-thirds vote, planning to send them to the governor by the close of business Friday. They are the Appropriations Act that spells out General Fund spending, the Authorizations Act that details federal and other spending, the K-12 Education bill and the state employee Pay Bill.
The fifth piece of the package is the Capital Improvement Projects bill that failed in the Senate because it didn’t get a two-thirds majority. But Anderson said it also will have to pass in some form because it re-imposes the state’s 17-cent property tax rate. Not doing so, he said, would not only prevent the construction and maintenance projects for the coming two years but make it impossible for the state to service the debt on existing General Obligation bonds.
Several observers have said in the last analysis, a few Republicans will change their votes to ensure that the CIP legislation passes.
Two likely candidates are Reno Republicans Heidi Gansert and Ben Kieckhefer since there is more than $120 million worth of Washoe County projects in that package. The biggest Washoe projects on the CIP list are bonding for half the $83 million engineering college building at University of Nevada, Reno, $42 million for the new Reno DMV building and $33 million in General Fund money for a Northern Nevada Veterans Home. But there are a dozen other, smaller projects on the list as well as several important maintenance contracts including extensive repairs to the exterior of the state Capitol.
“I don’t think we’re walking out of here without a CIP program,” said Kieckhefer.
“These projects are important to everyone,” said Gansert, who works for UNR.
Anderson was respectful about his dealings with Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, saying he believes they enjoyed “true negotiations.” He was less so in his comments about Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford’s handling of the ESA issue in that house. Anderson charged that there was a lack of leadership on Ford’s part that led to his caucus rejecting a deal on ESAs that was “98 percent worked out.”
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, was clear on the Senate Democrats’ reaction to the proposed compromise saying, “there’s no good excuse for ESAs.”