How did Nevada’s governor rank in Cato fiscal policy report card?

The Cato Institute today handed out report cards to the governors of all 50 states. Five earned an A. Only 10 warranted an F on their fiscal policies.

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Guess what grade Nevada’s Brian Sandoval earned?

The grading is based on seven variables, including two spending variables, one revenue variable, and four tax-rate variables.

Ding. Ding. Ding. Right you are, sports fans.

Sandoval got an F.

This is the Republican governor who came into office promising no new taxes and then pushed the highest tax hike in history. This is the governor who has handed tax breaks to Apple, Tesla and Faraday Future. This is the governor who is calling the Legislature into session on Monday to hike Las Vegas room taxes by 1.5 percentage points to build a stadium and expand a convention center, but refuses to consider funding education savings accounts, even though Democrats might win a majority in either the Senate or Assembly in November and thus doom the program for years to come.

Here is what the report has to say about Nevada’s Republican governor:

Brian Sandoval came into office promising no tax increases. But Governor Sandoval made a U-turn in 2015 and signed into law the largest package of tax increases in Nevada’s history at more than $600 million per year. The package included a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase, extension of a prior sales tax hike, an increase in business license fees, a new excise tax on transportation companies, and an increase in the rate of Nevada’s existing business tax, the Modified Business Tax (MBT).

However, the worst part of the package was the imposition of a whole new business tax in Nevada, the Commerce Tax. This tax is imposed on the gross receipts of all Nevada businesses that have revenues of more than $4 million a year. The new tax has numerous deductions and 27 different rates based on the industry, and it interacts with the MBT.

The Commerce Tax is complex, distortionary, and hidden from the general public. As a gross receipts tax, it will hit economic output across industries unevenly, and it will likely spur more lobbying as industries complain that their tax burdens are higher than other industries. Imposing the tax was a major policy blunder.

The Commerce Tax was imposed to increase funding for education. But Sandoval and the legislature had been directly rebuked by the public in 2014 for their effort to impose a new tax for education. In a November 2014 ballot, Nevada voters overwhelming rejected by a 79–21 margin the adoption of a new franchise tax to fund education.

Meanwhile, in recent years Sandoval and the legislature have been handing out narrow tax breaks to electric car companies, data centers, and other favored businesses. In 2014, for example, Sandoval approved a deal to provide $1.25 billion in special tax breaks and subsidies over 20 years to car firm Tesla. So Nevada’s tax policy entails large increases for all businesses, but narrow breaks for the lucky few.

This November, Nevada voters will weigh in on a ballot question, Question 2, to legalize recreational marijuana and impose the state sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on the product. Governor Sandoval opposes legalization.

Sandoval actually ranked fourth worse in the nation.





19 comments on “How did Nevada’s governor rank in Cato fiscal policy report card?

  1. Bruce Feher says:

    At least he isn’t dead last…HA!

  2. Barbara says:

    After the passage of the stadium bonds he probably will be last and deservedly so.

  3. Steve says:

    turns out the ESA subject was pulled because the solution was to tax southern Nevada to pay for the program and spread southern revenue over the whole state.
    Basically it was totally screwing the south.
    And we have Steve Sisolak to thank for policing the administration’s attempted thievery.

    Sisolak is a Democrat, but he is a frugal, stingy conservative when it comes to finance.

  4. nyp says:

    Today’s jobs report: another 156,000 jobs added to the US economy in September. Unemployment at 5%.
    Labor force participation rate up.
    Wages up.

    I blame that job-killing ObamaCare.

  5. The governor has basically insulated himself from most other Republicans and isolated himself from conservatives. He relies on a small circle of advisors…the politically connected and powerful handlers that got him elected. He’s done little or nothing to help his party…and hasn’t done anything of substance to expand the Republican outreach to the Hispanic population of our state. There’s a reason why he’s at the bottom of the list with seven Democrats (and two other Rinos)…because that’s how he governs. As far as I’m concerned his only real accomplishment was defeating Rory Reid.

  6. nyp says:

    According to the Council of Economic Advisors, real wages have grown faster over the current business cycle than in any since the early 1970s.

  7. Steve says:

    Yeah, nyp.

    the market is underwhelmed

  8. Rincon says:

    If you feel that the market is a good judge of the economy, then you should be impressed that we are still in the second longest and fourth most powerful bull market in history.

  9. Steve says:

    Gotta agree, my investments are happy with the Feds QA and near zero interest rates.
    It appears I may need to sell a bunch of stuff in the coming months to keep the gains I have managed to obtain over the last few years.

  10. Rincon says:

    As if QA and low interest alone can more than double the market value. You must think investors are really stupid.

  11. Steve says:

    You say double, Rincon.
    Care to show us where I said that?

    World markets, most recently the UK (FTSE) have seen their market values climb significantly due directly to the value of currency and how much of that currency is being “created”.

  12. Steve says:

    Therefore, your statement about me ” You must think investors are really stupid.”

    is nothing.


  13. Rincon says:


  14. Steve says:

    Your own words confuse you….even better.

  15. Rincon says:

    Do you treat people in person the way you treat them online?

  16. Steve says:

    Huh….that is a good question, do you?

  17. Bill Shuster says:

    I see you graded on a sliding scale where 75% was perfect. In my day, only 2 states passed, the rest were all failures bot that is not being PC. All the failures still received passing grades and a prize. What a crock of crap this shows.

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