June 25, 2019
25 Jun 2019

Political Update – June 25, 2019

Nevada Embraces Public Unions

Democrats let state employees collectively bargain. Watch out for a state income tax.

The Editorial Board
The Wall Street Journal

June 20, 2019

Nevada taxpayers had a good 54-year run, but this month their luck ran out. The state Legislature recently overrode a 1965 ban on collectively bargaining for state employees. Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed the bill, and watch now for a tax-and-spend ratchet to accelerate in one of the nine states without a tax on wage and salary income.

The legislation means the state’s 20,000 or so public employees can be represented by a union to negotiate wages, pensions and work rules. The law is a huge payoff for the unions that supported Mr. Sisolak and the Democratic legislative majorities that swept to power in November.

In effect the unions will now be on both sides of the negotiating table as they demand more money from the Governor they helped elect. Taxpayers won’t be represented because Mr. Sisolak will want to reward his union benefactors. This is why public unions differ from industrial unions that negotiate with a single private employer, and why Franklin Roosevelt opposed unions for public workers.

Nevada Democrats claim the law includes checks on wage and benefit increases. If Mr. Sisolak doesn’t like the result of negotiations, he can include “any amount of money that the Governor deems appropriate” in his proposed budget. A collective-bargaining agreement must also include a clause stipulating that “any provision” that “requires the Legislature to appropriate money is effective only to the extent of the legislative appropriation.”

But in practice this merely means that Democrats in the Legislature will have to be involved in the bargaining. And their incentive is to reward the unions too. Labor negotiations are exempt from the state’s open-meeting requirements, so the deal will emerge from the backrooms as a fait accompli.

This is the way it always works. Illinois and Connecticut are classic examples as public unions effectively run the state governments. In both states unfunded pension liabilities are more than 45% of the gross state product, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Illinois Democrats are now trying to kill the state’s constitutional flat income-tax rate, and Connecticut is raising taxes again, as taxpayers flee to lower-tax climes.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates that Nevada can expect to spend an additional $1.7 billion to $1.75 billion annually by 2036. That comes to $579 to $596 per resident a year. Mr. Sisolak won’t admit it, but in signing this bill he has started the clock ticking on the date that unions and Democrats lobby to impose a state income tax.

Quote of
the week



“In effect the unions will now be on both sides of the negotiating table as they demand more money from the Governor they helped elect. Taxpayers won’t be represented because Mr. Sisolak will want to reward his union benefactors.”

The Wall Street Journal

Let Nevada taxpayers in
on collective bargaining talks

Las Vegas Review-Journal 

June 23, 2019

The legacy legislation that emerged from the 2019 session will be the bill allowing state workers to collectively bargain.

Long sought by Nevada’s public employee unions, the concept nevertheless languished for decades — even under previous Democratic governors, who feared the inevitable budget ramifications. But government lobbyists had their way in Carson City this year after labor helped Democrats gain large majorities in both legislative houses last November. On June 12, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Senate Bill 135, giving state workers the right to bargain for wages and benefits.

The bill includes a provision allowing the governor to ignore any deal for financial reasons. That’s a tacit admission that allowing collective bargaining for government workers is a recipe for fiscal disaster, laying the groundwork for ever-escalating compensation costs and spiraling budgets, crowding other spending. Just ask Illinois … or Connecticut … or New York … or any progressive jurisdiction. But even that limiting codicil will have minimal effect. Abiding by the results of any negotiation will become a litmus test that will determine the political fate of legislative Democrats and gubernatorial candidates. 

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

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• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

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