Following hard-line Republican grandstanding Thursday during Senate votes on critical budget bills, Democratic legislators and veterans’ advocates gathered to rebuke the minority party’s tactics. They asked why Republican legislators not only walked out, but then voted against funding for everything from K-12 public schools to a long awaited military veterans’ home.
Senate Democrats were able to pass on a 12-9 party-line vote yesterday to fund K-12 public education (SB 544). They did so after they moved $60 million originally allocated for school vouchers into the Distributive Schools Account, which was necessary once all Republicans voted against the marijuana excise tax (SB 487) that would have provided $64 million for schools. They also passed the bill to fund state agencies (SB 545) on a 12-9 party-line vote to. But when it came to SB 546 to fund state infrastructure improvements, that bill failed on a 12-9 party-line vote.
Why did the state infrastructure funding bill die?
SB 546 funds vital projects across Nevada, from veterans’ homes to higher education facilities. The bill requires a supermajority of at least two-thirds to pass.
When explaining the high stakes of this bill, Senator David Parks (D-Paradise) stated, “This is the first year we’ve put additional money into the budget for maintenance projects that we’ve deferred for a long time. We’re so far behind.” The bill includes $33 million for construction of Northern Nevada Veterans’ Home.
Senator David Parks is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) is a U.S Army Veteran. Both urged their Republican colleagues to “stop the games” and pass the budget bills. Both noted that Northern Nevada veterans have been waiting for 15 years for the veterans’ nursing home to be built. Governor Sandoval himself has considered completion of Northern Nevada Veterans’ Home a top priority. Spearman refused to mince words on how she viewed the budget stalemate that’s threatening completion of Northern Nevada Veterans’ Home. “It was partisan politics that obfuscated the larger mission that we have our veterans in Northern Nevada taken care of.”
Spearman particularly expressed outrage over Republicans’ budget walkout and votes against the budget bills. SB 546 also includes $84 million for the University of Nevada, Reno, College of Engineering, and funding for repair projects throughout the state.
“The people of Nevada sent us here to get the job done. The people didn’t send us here to throw tantrums. We still have work to do.”
– Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas)
Spearman then shifted gears to discuss another group of Nevadans in need of help. She described how she was recently notified of the lack of special facilities and programs for these and other students with disabilities… Then asked why Republican legislators demand $60 million for vouchers instead of special education programs.
While yesterday’s Senate showdown provided plenty of gamesmanship, there are real-world consequences to the Republican walkout and votes. A long awaited veterans’ nursing home could be further delayed. UNR and UNLV could lose funds for various programs. Correctional facilities could lose the opportunity for much needed upgrades. Several state buildings are in need of repairs that have been delayed for several years.
The 79th Session of the Nevada Legislature is legally required to end Monday night. Earlier today, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) insisted there will be no special session following adjournment of this session Monday night. Parks and Spearman indicated it’s up to their Republican colleagues to prove the Governor correct.
Will his fellow Republicans provide the votes needed to provide the necessary funds to critical infrastructure and programs across Nevada? Stay tuned, as they have just over 72 hours left to pass the state budget.