Budget Battle Could End Up in Court

By: James Steiner
By: James Steiner

With a little more than 25 hours to go for the Nevada legislature to balance the state's $5 billion budget, talk centered around Gov. Kenny Guinn filing suit with the Supreme Court against lawmakers.

However on the tax propsals, there was no movement on the floor.

Part of that talk is swirling because the Assembly today didn't even vote on Senate Bill 6.

Time is not on their side - so many lawmakers are wondering why some of their colleagues are wasting it by not reaching a compromise.

The Assembly was supposed to re-covene at 11 in the morning. But lawmakers didn't all meet together on the floor until 5:30 in the afternoon.

It was a quick vote to adjourn for the day - not a vote on a $864 million tax package to fund the budget over the next two years.

"We're just trying to fund schools and we're taxing big business. Most who have said please tax us, so it's frustrating," said Assembly speaker Richard Perkins.

Both side have offered a number of suggestions for resolving the stalemate . . . but the Assembly remains one vote shy.

Says minority floor leader Lynn Hettrick: "People have very strong feelings about this. There's nothing wrong with fighting for what you believe in."

But, if the fight goes past midnight Monday the task of funding a budget could be turned over to the Nevada Supreme Court. Governor Guinn has hinted if lawmakers can't reach a compromise, the courts will have to step in.

"It's one of the options he is considering if they don't meet the June 30th deadline. They would then be in violation of the state constitution," said Michael Hillberby, the governor's Chief of Staff.

Something that has never happened before in state history. And it is something legislators don't want hanging over their heads.
Sheila Leslie\(D) Washoe
County]
"No one knows - it's uncharted territory", said Sheila Leslie. "The
legislators would be just heartsick to turn over their affairs to another branch of government."

Both sides say they're continuing to talk throughout the night. At this point, the Assembly is not expected to re-convene until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

That would leave them roughly 14 hours to get the 28 votes - which would be a two-thirds majority to balance the budget and find a way to fund it.

Are lawmakers worried that they could be sued by the Governor and this matter could end up in the courts?

Yes and no . . .

Some talked of a possible impeachment of some lawmakers today but could not say who would be impeached.

Others say if the Governor sees progress he won't file suit but instead have the courts send them back to the table to hammer out an agreement.


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