By Ron Knecht
Nevada State Controller
Last week, Assistant Controller Geoffrey Lawrence and I presented to the Legislature the state budget we developed with some Assembly members, professionals and business people as an alternative to the Governor’s proposal.
Las Vegas left-wing pundit Steve Sebelius trashed it and us. No surprise because he’s an aggressive tax-spend-regulate statist PC liberal, while our proposals are the antidote to such maladies. What was surprising is the ignorance, laziness, carelessness and possible malice and dishonesty in his attacks. They demonstrate the sorry state of much journalism today.
Start with this assertion: “There’s nothing in Knecht’s job description that requires him to weigh in on the budget, or even allows him to do so.”
Tough. Hard-hitting. No nonsense. And completely false.
Nevada Revised Statutes, Section 227.110(2) states: “The State Controller may recommend such plans as he or she deems expedient for the support of the public credit, for promoting frugality and economy, and for the better management and more perfect understanding of the fiscal affairs of the State.”
Section 227.300 adds: “The State Controller shall give information to either house or the Legislature, whenever required, upon any subject relating to the fiscal affairs of the State, or touching any duty of his or her office.”
Did Sebelius miss this permission and mandate because he’s too lazy even to look up the Controller’s duties? Because he’s ignorant of the general charge of the office? Because he doesn’t care enough to even try to get it right? Probably all of those.
But he was present last summer when the Review-Journal editorial board interviewed me, which resulted in it endorsing me. And I recall saying that the Controller has a statutory charge to provide the public information that will allow people to determine whether their tax dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.
A key theme of my campaign was that I will make liberal use of those informational charges, among other things by publishing a Controller’s monthly report providing facts, data, analysis and proposals. In its endorsement, the RJ cited that commitment approvingly. In my first four months, we published one report a month. The third one was our alternate budget, and it cited our statutory authority.
The facts that Sebelius was present at that interview and that I emphasized those points suggests possible malice and dishonesty. But give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he just forgot. That still leaves the shoddy laziness, ignorance and carelessness that typifies too much journalism today and much liberal and progressive advocacy in every age.
Other statements he made suggest at least the usual smug liberal arrogance and disdain for facts, data, analysis and the views of limited-government conservatives, if not malice or dishonesty. For example, he attacks my being present at the hearing as “taking time off from [my] official duties.” If I were a statist, liberal, PC progressive (like I used to be – story for another day), no doubt he would have praised my initiative, dedication, selflessness, etc.
He studiously ignores the substance of matters. Namely, we offered a compromise balanced budget that secures the education and other public-service values of Nevadans, with reforms and cost savings via judicious line-item cuts. It also requires Nevada’s well-paid local government employees to come halfway to parity with state and private employees by beginning to contribute very modestly to their generous pensions.
And it does not require new or increased taxes, as verified by the Legislature’s General Counsel, meaning it requires fewer votes to pass than any other proposal on the table.
But none of that suits his politics. So, he went low road on us.