Editorial: Legislature showed leadership in quickly passing budget bills | NevadaAppeal.com
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Editorial: Legislature showed leadership in quickly passing budget bills

Nevada Appeal Editorial Board

There’s a new attitude taking hold in American politics, from Washington, D.C., to Carson City, and it’s a welcome relief after years of politics as usual.

The severity of this nation’s economic crisis has brought to a standstill, at least for now, the worst of the partisan bickering and posturing among our elected officials. That new spirit of cooperation is in evidence in Washington, as Congressional leaders worked cooperatively ” for the most part ” to pass bailout legislation and are deciding what to do with the failing U.S. automakers.

And while the decisions have not been unanimous, and debate will always be a healthy and necessary part of crafting our nation’s laws, leaders have clearly heeded the American public’s desire for them to set aside political in-fighting and get to work rescuing our nation.

This attitude also was in evidence Monday when the Nevada Legislature gathered for a special session, originally planned to last two days. Lawmakers got down to business quickly and efficiently, passing two bills each in the Assembly and Senate to cover an additional $340 million shortfall in this year’s budget. And they did so in an eight-hour span ” surely a record for reaching consensus in that often-fractious political body.

Credit must be given to Gov. Gibbons and legislative leaders who crafted the plans before the special session convened. They included some unpopular provisions that in the end passed in the interest of bridging the gap until the Legislature convenes Feb. 2.

None of this is to suggest that the Legislature is moving in lockstep, nor should it. Republicans in the Assembly voted in a block against two bills, which they said unfairly shorted the rural counties, and nearly unanimously against the bill that allowed the state to borrow money to continue operating.

No one expects Republicans to bow to the majority, but in critical times such as these, had their votes been enough to prevent passage of the legislation, their protests would have been a severe misjudgment. Even Gov. Gibbons and Sen. Bill Raggio said the measures were a necessary but temporary stop-gap to help the state survive.

The Senate, on the other hand, passed both of the Assembly’s resolutions with just one dissenting vote.

Unfortunately, it would be naïve to think that the upcoming Legislature will run as smoothly. The seriousness of the financial crisis, combined with inevitable clashes between a newly powerful Democratic majority and Republicans intent on preserving their conservative ideals, will surely result in the occasional gridlock. The important thing for legislators to remember is that their constituents are hurting deeply, and that spirit of cooperation is absolutely necessary to get through these rough times and put us on the path to recovery.