K-12 Budget Debate Turns Ugly in Assembly

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K-12 Budget Debate Turns Ugly in Assembly

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Brandon Rittiman/KUNR

The video screen in the Nevada Assembly chambers shows a straight party vote on Governor Sandoval's proposed K-12 education cuts.

The Nevada Assembly wrapped up a heated debate shortly before midnight Tuesday evening, after the first of several large-scale budget hearings being held in Committees of the Whole.

The entire assembly sat as a big committee to consider cuts to K-12 education.

The theatrics began when Democrats pushed for a series of test votes on the issue.

Minority leader Pete Goicoechea made it clear he and his fellow Republicans weren't happy about voting on the budget for public schools before working on a series of conservative government reforms.

Goicoechea: "Until we have a dialogue and a discussion about the reforms and the revenue package, we will continue to maintain our position, which is gov rec."

When Goicochea says "gov rec," he means sticking to Governor Sandoval's budget and all the cuts contained in it.

And he meant it. A test vote on the Governor's K-12 cuts broke on straight party lines. All 16 republicans voting for and all 26 democrats against.

That drew the ire of Democrats like Assemblywoman April Mastroluca, upset at a lack of compromise from the GOP.

Mastroluca: "I cannot just blindly vote 'gov rec, gov rec, gov rec,' and go home. Because if that's the reason you think you're supposed to be here, then we could put anyone in your seat."

Tensions ratcheted up from there.

Democrats tried to get test votes to see who was willing to compromise, but Republicans wouldn't budge.

They simply do not want to set spending levels before they get what they're after.

By the end of the long night, the battle got away from the issues.

Sherwood: "This is a farce."

Freshman Assemblyman Mark Sherwood made himself a target when he challenged Assemblywoman Debbie Smith on the number of Republican bills being considered.

Sherwood: "How many bills did we get out, Debbie?"

During hearings lawmakers aren't on a first name basis.

Out of respect they call each other Miss and Mister.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick was quick to retort.

Kirkpatrick: "That's disrespectful to the institution. Period. For you freshmen that this is your first time, if you don't respect the institution, don't come back."

Some members of both sides did try extending the olive branch, but the long night ended with a partisan stalemate on public school funding.