Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval came into office with tough talk about taxes. Since then, it seems, he's grown disenchanted with Grover Norquist-style governance. For the second time in as many years, he's pushing to extend a group of temporary tax increases, rather than cut public-education funding. What is the world coming to?
Nevada's budget crisis last year was among the worst in the country, with a shortfall that amounted to 45 percent of state expenses according to Stateline.org. When courts ruled the state could not draw on local government funds appropriated by a prior legislature to balance the budget, Sandoval opted to maintain tax rates rather than make more core cuts. This year, he's going with the same philosophy it seems. As the Las Vegas Sun reports:
“Let me be clear, as I’ve said before, the economy is improving, but I believe we must begin this budgeting process with all the information available,” Sandoval said in a written statement. “In addition to avoiding further cuts to education, this decision means there will be no need for tax increases in the next session. Nevadans will pay no more than they are in the current biennium.”
According to both the Sun and Stateline.org, this is evidence of a moderating move by Nevada Republicans. The political stakes are high—the state GOP lost its majority in the Senate by one vote—and several of those who voted against the move last year are supporting this year's proposed extension.
The situation in Nevada stands in stark contrast to the presidential race, where parties seem more and more polarized. Across the country, the vast majority of Republicans have signed on to Grover Norquist's tax pledge, promising never to support tax increases. Nevada Republicans, however, have not rushed to sign—only eight of the state's 63 legislators have signed the pledge. Sandoval has not signed. Without a pledge, the Republicans in Nevada have more room to govern based on the situation and the facts, rather than just hard-line ideologies.
And that's not something you see every day.