Editorial: Coming Legislature likely to favor tax hikes

Ramirez cartoon

“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session,” is often attributed to Mark Twain. Though the quote is most likely apocryphal, its veracity is likely to be affirmed when Nevada’s newly elected lawmakers gather in early 2019 in Carson City.

The voters, primarily in the urban counties of Clark and Washoe, have loaded up the Legislature with Democrats — a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly and one shy of a supermajority in the state Senate. And that seat could swing to the Democrats if a planned recount in a district in Clark County changes the outcome. The Republican candidate won the seat by a razor-thin 28 votes.

That supermajority is significant because it takes two-thirds of each wing of the legislative building to pass any tax increase. This is due to a constitutional amendment known as the Tax Restraint Initiative pushed by former Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons and approved by voters in 1994 and 1996.

Recent legislative sessions have proven that the Democrats are salivating for higher taxes to satiate their public union enablers in state and local governments and the public education system.

To add to the level of jeopardy, Nevada has elected a Democratic governor, former Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who is unlikely to wield a veto pen on any tax hikes that reach his desk. 

In an interview shortly after the election, Sisolak said, “I’ve committed, we’re not going to be raising taxes. That’s not my intent,” saying existing funds could be reallocated. But earlier in the campaign he told an interviewer, “One of the ways we’re going to have to pay for it, and people don’t want to hear it, is property taxes.” He also has a track record of backing tax increases. He was a key backer of spending tax money to build a professional football stadium in Las Vegas for a billionaire team owner.

On top of that, the lieutenant governor, who presides over the Senate and can vote in the case of a tie is Democrat Kate Marshall. Additionally, the state treasurer, controller and attorney general are all Democrats. 

One of the more likely targets will be our property taxes. Currently the state imposes a cap on annual property tax increases — 3 percent for homes and 8 percent for businesses. There has been talk of changing that, as well as eliminating or altering the depreciation on property assessments currently allowed by law. Such changes could cause property taxes to double or even triple in some cases.

Sales taxes hikes, adjustments to the Commerce Tax on businesses, as well as various fees are likely to be on the table.

Democrats are also likely to be open to proposals to allow state public employees to unionize just like local government public workers, who currently are paid 46 percent more than those in the private sector in Nevada — 57 percent more when generous retirement benefits and paid leave are accounted for. Guess who would pay for that.

There is also discussion about ending Nevada’s status as a right-to-work state, which would devastate small businesses.

Additionally, Sisolak and many of the incumbent and newly elected Democrats have expressed a desire to increase the minimum wage incrementally toward $15 and hour, which also would cripple many small businesses and drive some from the state. 

Keep your phones and your pens handy in the coming months. You’ll want to use them to let our representatives in Carson City know what we think of these potential legislative efforts.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

7 comments on “Editorial: Coming Legislature likely to favor tax hikes

  1. Rincon says:

    Since I’m not a Nevadan, I only have a very general observation: The spending side of the equation is far more important than the tax side. Once the money is spent, the horse is out of the barn.

    Australian taxes are far higher than ours, but their benefits are far greater as well. According to my wife’s family, who are ex-pats (an expert panel of three), Australians are far less worked up about taxes than we are. Conclusion: Low taxes by themselves are a poor goal. Getting value from the taxes paid is far more important.

  2. Bruce Feher says:

    Someone has to pay for all the “free” stuff that was promised!

  3. Bruce Feher says:

    Rincon, I like that they (government) pays $700 for hammers that Harbor Freight sells for $5.00. That’s value HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  4. Rincon says:

    Although I don’t dispute that in any giant organization, ridiculous irresponsibility can be found, I certainly don’t base my beliefs on a single anecdote. Nevertheless, I would like to know if what you wrote is indeed true. Can you provide us with your source, Bruce?

  5. Steve says:

    While not $700 hammers, must have been a discount they were only $640 and they were toilet seats. This is a really entertaining read.
    Enjoy, Rincon.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/only-the-pentagon-could-spend-640-on-a-toilet-seat/

  6. Anonymous says:

    Only when free market business get involved in doing all they can to screw the American people out of the taxes they pay, do hammers cost $600.

    Another reason the government should NEVER involve private businesses in it’s business.

  7. Rincon says:

    Thank you Steve. Interesting that it’s the Pentagon, which is showered with money by Republicans, is the poster child for wasteful spending. I propose that we do what Conservatives urge in a situation like this: Starve the beast. Cut their budget in half and make those SOB’s pinch their pennies. Electing Democrats would accomplish this nicely. The major question about this, which nobody seems to ask, is whose head rolled? And why do we allow a nonanswer to that question?

    I note that while Republicans cut spending by various departments (except for defense, of course), they also cut spending by the IRS for audits, which pay the government vastly more than their cost. Stupidity reigns everywhere, it seems. Once again, hacking with a chain saw is ill advised. Value received for tax dollars is the important thing, and we spend next to nothing on making out tax dollars go farther. We voters just want to cut them and allow the greed and graft to flourish.

    Once again though, quantitation is extremely important. There will always be egregious behavior in any large organization, and it always should be ferreted out, but just because my car’s water pump gives out doesn’t prompt me to take the bus instead, if you can catch the metaphor.

    As an example of why we can’t merely issue a blanket condemnation of government, would it be fair for me to claim that private enterprise should be restricted or eliminated because of say, Enron or Bernie Madoff?

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