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Budget Proposed By Nevada Treasurer Drawing Sharp Criticism

The battle over the state’s budget is already underway in Carson City.

During a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee Thursday, Republican State Treasurer Dan Schwartz sparked outrage from both parties when he presented his proposed alternative budget.

Schwartz’s budget is a substitute to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget, which includes increases in taxes and fees to pay for more spending on education programs around the state.

However, delivering a budget is not part of the treasurer’s job. That position is typically dedicated to investing the state’s money.

Political columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal Steve Sebelius called the move a legislative intrusion.

“I hate to use the word ‘budget’ because it really is just a three-page news release,” Sebelius said.

According to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, accused the treasurer of hijacking the legislative process and suggested the treasurer lacked a basic understanding of the budget.

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The Las Vegas Review-Journal caught this exchange:

Schwartz said state law requires him to provide information to the Legislature on any subject connected with the treasury.

“So, Mr. Treasurer, you believe that justifies hijacking the process and bringing forth a three-page budget, your budget? For political purposes?” Roberson said.

The two sparred on who was playing the political trump card.

“I’m in shock and dismay that you would be here today proposing this,” Roberson said. “I’m embarrassed for you, sir.”

Schwartz defended his alternative.

Sebelius said Roberson reacted with such venom because he has made himself the number one supporter of the governor’s agenda.

However, the issue could go beyond a heated exchange among leaders in Carson City. It could impact the state’s bond rating.

“This incident betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the state budget process and a bond rating agency that sees a treasurer who doesn’t understand the basic precepts of the state’s budget process might also have problems understanding things in terms of investments,” Sebelius explained.

The friction on the finance committee is just the latest example of the rift among state GOP leaders.

Just days after the governor gave his State of the State address, Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore vowed to kill it.

Schwartz and state Controller Ron Knecht came out with their alternative budget a few weeks later.

And, Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who was also swept into office with the Republican wave in November, told a Reno radio program Thursday that he is personally opposed to the governor’s budget plan, but noted it was up to the governor and lawmakers to decide.

“There is a lot of dysfunction. I’m sure voters are wondering what happened,” Sebelius said.

GUEST:

Steve Sebelius, political columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Guests

Steve Sebelius, political columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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