Interview: GOP Lawmakers Have Concerns Over Bipartisanship, Budget
With just a little more than a month left in Nevada's legislative session, hundreds of bills still remain up for consideration. That includes dozens of measures introduced by minority Republicans. KUNR's Paul Boger spoke with Assembly Minority Leader Jim Wheeler in Carson City to discuss whether Republicans are seeing the bipartisanship they were guaranteed by Democrats.
“During the last session, eight percent of our bills made it out of first house passage. This session, 32 percent of our bills made it out of first house passage. When the Republicans were in charge in 2015, 45 percent of Democrat bills made it out of first house passage. That’s what we call bipartisanship, when it’s almost fifty-fifty… So this session is better. There’s no doubt about that when you say that 32 percent of our bills made it through. But you also have to look at what type of bills made it through. Did any of our super priorities make it through? Not really, but a lot of there super priorities died too.”
Republicans have also raised concerns over potential state spending proposed by Democrats over the next biennium. Wheeler says lawmakers really need to look at the budget and determine what programs and proposals the state can live without.
“What we’re seeing coming out of some of these departments are enormous, what I call, raises…” says Wheeler. “There are some new departments that the governor wants that I don’t think are necessary. For instance, there’s a new citizens of America program. [It] really sounds good, people coming in, getting their citizenship. This is what you want. This is the immigration you want. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s something we’ve done without for years. So let’s look at these things and say maybe we can spend this money on our schools. Maybe we can spend this money on our cops. Maybe we can give state employees a cost of living increase that actually means something."
Recently, Republican concerns over the state budget came to a head when members of the Senate GOP introduced emergency legislation severely curtailing lawmakers ability to dip into the state's Rainy Day Fund. Democratic leaders have been debating whether they should tap into the state's emergency account in order to pay for a three percent increase in teacher salaries. The measure will likely not get a hearing.