You might think a Republican governor in a swing state muscling through a top agenda item with a big bipartisan vote might generate some national headlines.
But national Republicans are not interested in promoting what Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval just accomplished: a huge boost for public education funded by the largest tax increase in state history.
Nevada schools are literally ranked the worst in the nation. Sandoval, determined to fix the problem, acknowledged the obvious: You get what you pay for.
So he proposed new taxes on businesses, most notably a new tax on business revenue above $4 million a year. And he said the money would fund full-day kindergarten in every school, programs to help all kids read by third grade and efforts to help children for whom English is a second language.
Needing a two-thirds vote in the legislature, he fought back opposition from anti-tax absolutists in his party. He was buoyed by polls showing considerable support for the plan, especially when the higher taxes are directly linked to education.
And a Sunday, Sandoval won the Assembly vote 30-to-10. Now the bill is expected to easily clear the Senate and be sent to his desk.
Sandoval exerted real leadership to rally his state and forge a coalition in support of a big policy designed to help real people in need. Can any of the Republican governors running for president say the same?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s claim to fame is busting unions, which did nothing for union workers or non-union workers. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal deeply cut education. New Jsersey Gov. Chris Christie’s economic record is atrocious and so is his approval rating in the state.
Gov. John Kasich can at least say he expanded Medicaid to Ohio’s working poor. But that compassionate, decent act is also why no one thinks he’s going to win the Republican nomination.
This is insane. As Kasich notes, Republicans need to win Ohio! The smaller Nevada is not quite as mathematically essential. But it’s still a purple state that went from Bush to Obama, the kind of state Republicans have to win back. These governors are jewels for Republican to treasure. But they are being treated like junk in the back of the closet.
While Walker likes to claim he is proof that virulent right-wing conservatism can win in blue states, he trails Hillary Clinton by 10 points in his own state. Meanwhile, Sandoval and Kasich have huge approval ratings at home, have a record that sells in swing states, yet are ignored by their fellow Republicans.
It’s political malpractice.