'If They Choose to Test My Resolve, I'll Make It Easy for Them,' NV Gov Lombardo Isn't Backing Down Over State Budget

Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo. Credit: State of Nevada government website

In Carson City, Nevada there have been tensions brewing between the Democrat-controlled legislature and Republican first-term Governor Joe Lombardo as the legislative session comes to a close on June 5. The grand finale is a squabble over the state budget, which is projected to have a $2 billion surplus.

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In previous reporting at RedState, the possibility that the Governor would veto the budget has been alluded to:

NV Gov Joe Lombardo Brings His One-Year Gas Tax Holiday Plan to the Legislature

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On Thursday, Gov Lombardo released a statement explicitly stating that he intends to veto any of the five budget bills making their way through the chambers if his priorities are not addressed.

The statement reads:

As the five budget bills are being fast-tracked by legislative Democrats, I will repeat what I have previously stated. I will not sign any budget bills until my priorities are addressed. Period. So, before the Senate and Assembly take final action on these five bills today, tomorrow, or the next day, I suggest they reconsider their decision and delay final passage until the policy priorities that I spelled out on day one are on my desk. If they choose to test my resolve, I’ll make it easy for them. The people of Nevada hired me to protect their interests and that is what I intend to do. –Governor Joe Lombardo

The press release goes on to lay out the Day One Priorities of the governor:

  • Governor Lombardo’s Day One Priorities
  • Fiscally Responsible Budget
  • School Safety
  • School Choice and Accountability
  • Government Efficiency
  • Crime Reduction
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In addition to the Day One Priorities laid out by the governor, the Athletic’s baseball stadium legislation, a film tax credit expansion, and funding a new school in Duck Valley Indian Reservation are reported to be among the major bills being withheld. Notably, the governor did not list his election security reforms, which the Democrat leadership has declared to be a “nonstarter.”

Governor Lombardo’s explicit priority demands were not random, but in response to Democrat leadership saying that they would not pass any of the major policy bills until after the budget is approved. This week, the legislators have rushed through five versions of a state budget, introducing some on Monday, nine days earlier than the anticipated introduction date of May 31, according to the legislative calendar.

Now, Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D) is pretending that passing the budget is not the last order of business, saying:

If we get a budget veto, I don’t know how we pass any of those bills, because we don’t have a budget, we don’t know how much money we have … If that veto happens, I don’t know any other way forward. I think the bills are done at that point.

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Passing the budget bills earlier than calendered isn’t about this woeful act of confusion on the part of the Assembly Speaker, it’s because the Dems want time to try to overcome the veto, for which they would need one Republican Senator to break party lines.

If the state budget doesn’t get approved by June 5, lawmakers will be summoned for a special session to get funding for the state government before July 1, the start of the fiscal year when the new two-year budget begins. Not passing a budget would mean services provided by the state would not have funding, and state employees may not get paid.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said they’re only going to focus on passing the budget and won’t be discussing any policy bills in a special session, saying:

I’ve been really clear, and I think we all agree on this: A special session is all about the budget, no policy debates. We’ll deal with the budget we have, and if any issues pop up, we can tackle them. But we’re not passing any policy bills during the special session.

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Even though Lombardo would be the one to call for the special session by proclamation and set the agenda, Cannizzaro asserted that the governor cannot dictate which bills are introduced. She added that any bills brought forward would have to come from herself or Yeager.

Even if the Democrat leadership sandbags the major policy proposals Gov Lombardo was tasked by the voters to bring forward, the state budget is the angel on the Christmas tree; the most important part.

Earlier this month, Lombardo’s Chief of Staff Ben Kieckhefer said, “If zero policy bills pass, from either party, and we pass a budget that does that, we think it’d be a good outcome.”

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