“First of all, congratulations to the 17 legislative Republicans who stuck by Gov. Jim Gibbons and refused to go along with the biggest government cash grab in Nevada history.
“They failed to carry the day, of course, as majority Democrats on Thursday managed to override the governor’s veto of a $781 million tax hike — which is actually closer to $1 billion when a previously passed room tax increase is included …” — Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial, May 31, 2009
That editorial goes on to list the heroes and villains of the session and point out that for two decades Nevada’s lawmakers had been opting for double-digit spending increases instead of fiscal restraint. It also warned that the tax increases would hinder economic recovery and predict that if a Democrat were to win the governor’s mansion in 2010 that tax “sunsets” the GOP managed to impose would never happen and future tax hikes would dwarf the ones just passed. (I would link to the full editorial but it has been lost somewhere in the ether.)
What a difference half a decade makes.
Pardon us if this causes whiplash, but the lede on today’s R-J editorial reads:
“For years and years, the Nevada Legislature never failed to disappoint the citizens it serves. And so, being conditioned to expect the worst from the state’s most powerful body, it’s shocking to look at the work of the just-completed 2015 session and say … ‘Bravo.’
“Bravo to lawmakers. Bravo to Gov. Brian Sandoval. Bravo to everyone who shaped and championed a transformative agenda and passed policies that never, ever would have had a chance of approval going back decades. …
“Yes, there were tax increases. Record tax increases, in fact. And the state’s tax policy still could be much better and much broader. But that new revenue will flow into a K-12 system that will be more accountable and will give all parents more choices than they’ve ever had before. Education headlines the best work of the 2015 session.”
No mention of the fact the governor and the lawmakers ignored the concept of elasticity, which predicts the new taxes will not raise nearly as much as projected and there will be a shortfall in two short years when the money is spent and the tax revenues lag. Don’t fault the writers. They are just taking orders from the new regime, which apparently is sucking up to the powerful.
A front page story in the paper spells out the tax hikes and how much they are supposed to net in revenue — pipe dreams.
Though that 2009 editorial is no longer extant online, for some strange reason my column, which appeared beside it in print, still lurks among the electrons. The headline was: “I am very proud of the fact that I stand for something.”
“I don’t recall a single winning candidate saying back before the November election that the state of Nevada needs to raise taxes, much less $1 billion in new taxes.
“Not Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, not Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, not Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio.
“Despite repeated questions, Democrat Horsford would not say he would raise taxes. Buckley said her plan did not call for raising taxes. Other candidates of both Democratic and Republican stripes refused to allow the word to pass their lips.
“Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons is one of the few people to say no to new taxes and stick by it, so far. At an editorial board at the Review-Journal this past week, the day before he vetoed the state budget with that $1 billion tax hike, he said, ‘I am very proud of the fact that I stand for something, because I think the Nevada public is tired of politicians who walk in, tell you they’re going to do something and then turn around, when they get elected and go (to) the Legislature and do just the opposite. Mainly, go look at the comments of Majority Leader Steven Horsford when he was running for election. Your paper printed a whole series of comments saying we are not going to raise taxes during this session. Where is he today? He turned around and said I am going to support raising taxes. I tell you the people I speak with, as I travel around Nevada, hope that the people who (they) elected tell them something and stick to it.’
“Words and deeds should have consequences. Our legislators must someday be held accountable to the voters. If the voters have no problem with what was said on the campaign trail in contrast to what was done in the halls of the Legislature, so be it.”
Gibbons lost in 2010 in the Republican primary to Sandoval, who was re-elected in November.
During the 2014 election campaign I don’t recall any candidate, including Sandoval, calling for another round of record tax hikes, do you?
Words and deeds should have consequences, but apparently Thomas Jefferson was quite the seer when he wrote in 1788: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yeild (sic), and government to gain ground.”
Eventually everything yields to bigger and bigger government, except a few old folks stuck in their ways even after being put out to pasture.