Clark County’s 8.25 percent sales tax is relatively high compared to other jurisdictions across the country. But state Sen. Tick Segerblom, a Democrat, yearns to make it an even greater burden for county residents.
Sen. Segerblom, an attorney by trade, is perhaps best known as the happy frontman for legalized pot in Nevada. But during his 11 years in the Legislature, he’s also gained a well-deserved reputation for supporting every proposal to loot state taxpayers of more money — and Sen. Segerblom’s haughty disdain for those who pay the bills comes through loud and clear in his latest proposal.
Appearing on “Nevada Newsmakers” late last year, Sen. Segerblom unveiled a plan to increase the county sales tax by 1 percentage point. The funds would be earmarked for the Clark County School District. Keep in mind that this comes barely two years after lawmakers in 2015 passed the largest tax increase in state history — $1.4 billion — to boost school spending.
Alas, not everybody shares Sen. Segerblom’s desire to bury state residents under a mass of higher and higher levies. In particular, he noted during the interview, “We just need to cut ourselves loose from Northern Nevada and their ‘don’t tax me, don’t tax me’ mentality.”
In addition, Nevadans in 1994 and 1996 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds legislative majority to raise taxes. This handcuff was designed explicitly to restrain politicians such as Sen. Segerblom who are addicted to mainlining other people’s money — and it also threatens to put the kibosh on his sales tax proposal because local authorities face a legislative cap on the levy.
Sen. Segerblom, however, would prefer to ignore the will of state voters and find a loophole to neuter the two-thirds requirement. To that end, he says the legal minds at the Legislative Counsel Bureau have assured him that “the Legislature, by majority vote, can approve or authorize the Clark County Commission to impose a sales tax” without violating the supermajority requirement. The commissioners could then enact the tax increase by a simple majority.
As Sen. Segerblom envisions it, this scheme not only shuts out Northern Nevada — Clark County lawmakers constitute more than 70 percent of the Legislature — but provides a neat roadmap around the two-thirds mandate.
Sen. Segerblom’s formula depends on Democrats maintaining their legislative majorities and a Clark County Commission willing to risk voter wrath. But the most striking feature of Sen. Segerblom’s strategy is its sheer, unapologetic cynicism. Not only are Clark County voters cut out of the picture, but the state constitution is casually treated as an inconvenience to his loftier goals. If only the unwashed masses knew what was good for them! Sen. Segerblom knows, though, and the peons should just step aside.
Is it any great mystery why so many people hold members of the political elite in such low esteem?