Commentary: Nevada winds a turbulent force
Many believe that Nevada wind causes all manner of maladies – headaches, eye irritation and foul moods as well. Although the winds can be an irritant, one wonders why people complain about a force of nature that is consequential but about which one can do little. There is, however, a literary dimension, a political metaphor imbedded in the Nevada wind phenomenon.
I love the Nevada wind. It tells a story, starting out in the Pacific, a prevailing easterly flow it picks up moisture, contains differentiated barometric pressures and makes its way eastward over the California flatlands and gentle hills until it reaches the Sierra Nevada.
It crawls up the western slopes, compresses its Pacific Ocean moisture and plunges down the eastern slopes. It can take your breath away in Carson City! The winds aloft are even more powerful, more violent. They sometimes form lenticular clouds, as fierce in their interior makeup as they are beautiful in their external shapes. They are full of turbulence, with violent winds and driving rain inside, but on the outside, graceful to the naked eye.
We have just completed 120 days of turbulent politics. The 75th session of the Nevada Legislature and the governor were locked in mortal combat with Democrats and some Republicans. They fought about higher taxes and reduced human services. The Legislature passed lean budget bills to preserve the K-12 schools and the university; they cut some human services they knew their constituents would not like. But they did preserve critical ones. The governor vetoed the tax increases. The Legislature overrode his vetoes. We now have a balanced budget that no one particularly likes though the state survived. The Nevada political wind was fierce, indeed.
The Legislature knew the severity of the problem and worked hard to solve it. The governor disapproved. But the turbulence is not over as new political storms will threaten us in the 2011 session. Many of the strong leaders we had during this session will be gone – “term limited out” – a sad commentary in a democracy that requires knowledgeable leadership.
Our tax base is not stable enough nor broad enough to support future, vibrant growth in the state. And the tax increases of 2009 will sunset.
A new Legislature and a new governor in 2011 will have to revisit the tax base – more stable and broader. Perhaps they will put income tax back on the table and develop “steel in the backbone” of new policy makers to compel protected industries (such as mining) to pay their fair share. The 2011 windstorm will create fierce head winds but we must elect leaders who can help Nevada flourish in the 21st Century.
• Dr. Eugene T. Paslov, former Nevada superintendent of schools, is a board member for Silver State Charter High School in Carson City.