Newspaper column: And you thought your vote counted?

“Elections have consequences …” President Obama likes to tell Republicans, especially after he just won one.

But not in Nevada. Not any more.

The voters of Nevada swept into office a majority of Republicans in both the Assembly and state Senate, as well as all constitutional statewide offices — many of whom pledged to not raise taxes. Instead, the Republican governor has proposed the biggest tax hike in history — $1.3 billion — for the $7.3 billion general fund. It appears a majority of those Senate and Assembly Republicans will meekly go along with him.

Raising taxes will require a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature, but there does not appear to be enough votes to stop it.

To add literal insult to injury, several Republicans are ridiculing anyone who dares suggest anything even slightly less draconian than the governor’s plan.

Brian Sandoval (R-J photo)

When Republican Treasurer Dan Schwartz suggested the state could get by with raising the general fund budget only 4.6 percent instead of the 12.3 percent proposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson barked at Schwartz, “I’m in shock and dismay that you would be here today proposing this. I’m embarrassed for you, sir.”

Sandoval’s Chief of Staff Mike Willden, who has had his snout in the public trough for 40 years, including several as head of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said to Schwartz that he was “insulted” by his criticism of the budget.

The governor himself sniffed to a Las Vegas television reporter, “As I said, I’d invite anybody to make their presentation, but again, it’s gotta be thoughtful.”

Actually, total state spending under Sandoval’s budget — which includes transportation expenditures and other special budgets — increases 16.5 percent, from $20.17 billion to $23.5 billion. Willden’s former HHS division grows by 28.5 percent under the governor’s budget to $9.6 billion, probably due mostly to expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare. Education spending increases by 15.8 percent under the governor’s budget.

Meanwhile, Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported that weekly wages in Nevada increased half a percent in a year, while inflation for all of 2014 was 1.6 percent, meaning taxpayers lost ground — before taxes.

Two of Gov. Sandoval’s proposals were specifically rejected by the voters in November — a tax on gross receipts and increasing the tax on mining.

Despite this, Sandoval proposes a business license fee based on, you guessed it, gross receipts. He also proposes increasing the modified business tax on mining from 1.17 percent of payroll to 2 percent. Voters rejected the gross receipts tax by four to one, and one the loudest opponents was Brian Edward Sandoval.

The governor also advocates making permanent a package of temporary taxes that were supposed to sunset in 2011. Despite promises to the voters by the governor to allow those taxes to sunset, he extended them in 2011 and 2013 and now says they should be permanent, sucking nearly $600 million out of the taxpayers over the next two years.

Lawmakers now have passed and the governor has signed a bill that rolls over school bonds for 10 years beyond what the voters approved, meaning property taxes will not decrease as they would otherwise.

According to Nevada Policy Research Institute, this will cost taxpayers as much as an additional $4 billion in higher property taxes, especially in Clark and Washoe counties, where voters have in recent years rejected school bond issues at the ballot box.

A compromise proposal to extend the school bonding for only two years and put the matter on the ballot in 2016 never got any traction.

To further add insult to voter injury, Sandoval has even proposed that local school boards be appointed and not elected.

“Based on recent events, I have concluded that local school boards should be appointed, not elected,” the duly elected governor said in his State of the State speech. “Although well intended, some of these boards have become disconnected from their communities. I will therefore support legislation to provide for the appointment of members of local school boards.”

As a poke in the eye of the duly elected Washoe County school trustees, Sandoval then announced that he was naming the superintendent they had just fired to be Superintendent in Residence with the Nevada Department of Education.

And you thought your vote counted. Democracy in Nevada was a nice experiment while it lasted.

A version of this column appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.
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16 comments on “Newspaper column: And you thought your vote counted?

  1. A.D. Hopkins says:

    I hope you’ll also be in the Sparks paper just added to Battle-Born battery.

  2. Supposed to be but its website hasn’t been updated.

  3. Bruce Feher says:

    It’s them, government, against us, taxpayers!

  4. Steve says:

    No one LIKES tax’s. Let alone, increasing them.

    The last several sessions of the legislature taxes were not increased, in fact the last times taxes were increased have been under Republican governors and over the resistance of the legislature!

    Hell, even today the Democrats won’t make any stand on taxes, other than to say something needs to be done. All the while screaming about how they HATE all the conservative ideals that are being passed along with the tax increases we all agree are needed in some amount, form or type.

    Are you really saying we need to vote Democrats back into power to keep from having our taxes increased?

    Or can’t you see we have a glass half full this time?

  5. No, I’m saying it makes no difference. Both parties are worthless and pay no heed to the citizens.

  6. Steve says:

    That is the Libertarian, I like in you, speaking.

    This country was designed to very slowly and only with great pressure from the public forcing it.

    I can’t be unhappy that some of the things I care about are being passed into law this time. If it costs more to get it done then so be it. Take this hill and try to take another on the next cycle.

  7. Steve says:

    What happened to the word “change” in my statement? I was sure I thought it while typing it!

  8. Barbara says:

    I agree with Tom. I have no use for either party. The Republicans should have seen Sandoval for the liberal he is when he signed onto the ACA and expanded Medicaid.

  9. Winston Smith says:

    The Republicans long ago became Socialist Party B, especially at the national level. We keep calling them neo-con RINOs and it doesn’t seem to bother them.

    I’ve come to realize that nearly all Republicans believe we vote them in to compromise our principles for the sake of getting along with the opposition party. There are still not enough Dr. No’s around. I’m not even sure Rand is one.

  10. Barbara says:

    Rand Paul lost my support when he endorsed Mitch McConnell in the primary against Matt Bevins. Anyone who supports McConnell cannot have the best interest of the country at hear.

  11. Steve says:

    There is a word for them…DeRP

    Kinda good thing, I think. Maybe it means popular opinion is shifting away from both major parties. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  12. Rincon says:

    Unfortunately, with our present voting system, third parties are generally not viable. Australia’s instant runoff system allows voters to support third parties without throwing their vote away.

  13. If conservatives can’t first take back the ailing Republican party…how on earth can they ever hope to take back our ailing country…and put this ship back on course?

  14. Sorry…this is the correct link…

  15. Please disregard the first two links…hopefully this is the correct one: No Jeb Bush and No Third Parties! My apologies…

  16. […] you couple the $1.3 billion per biennium general fund spending the with school bond rollover approaching $4 billion over the next decade that taps every household budget in Nevada for more […]

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