At the recent Carson City forum, controller candidates Catherine Byrne and Ron Knecht were a study in contrasts. For Byrne, a CPA with three decades of accounting experience, the controller is the state's chief accounting officer, a technical role outside the realm of politics. For incumbent Ron Knecht, the office serves as a platform for second guessing the legislature and governor on policy matters.
Knecht's main target has been the Commerce Tax, earmarked to boost K-12 education funding. He sponsored a repeal petition, and even released his own state budget, claiming it would preclude the need for the Commerce Tax by making "judicious cuts" to spending.
Such theatrics have gone over about as well as the bill draft Knecht requested before the 2003 session, which called for changing the state's name to "East California," making "The Tax Man" the state song, and adopting "the RINO" as the state animal.
Knecht made other news during that session. He joined with Sharron Angle and 13 other anti-tax radicals to keep Gov. Guinn's education budget from achieving an Assembly supermajority. AG Brian Sandoval sought relief from the Nevada Supreme Court, but in the end John Marvel of Battle Mountain broke with Knecht, averting a constitutional crisis.
We don't need any more of this tomfoolery. I'll be voting for CPA Catherine Byrne for state controller — she can be counted on to take the chief accounting officer's job seriously, not use the controller's office to play sidewalk superintendent on behalf of any pet political causes.