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 in included — prevailing 29-13 in the Assembly and 17-4 in the Senate.
The Nevada Taxpayer Honor Roll this semester includes:
— Mark Amodei, R-Carson City; Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas; Mike McGinness, R-Fallon; and Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, in the Senate.
— Chad Christensen, R-Las Vegas; Ty Cobb, R-Reno; Heidi Gansert, R-Reno; Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley; Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka; Tom Grady, R-Yerington; Don Gustavson, R-Sparks; John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas; Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City; Richard McArthur, R-Las Vegas; Lynn Stewart, R-Boulder City; and Melissa Woodbury, R-Henderson, in the Assembly.
Credit also goes to the governor, who was elected on a “no new taxes” pledge and managed to keep it despite the constant ululating and caterwauling from the big government crowd and its stenographers in the media.
Typical was this bit of pomposity from Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, the Las Vegas Democrat now responsible for helping srong-arm through the Legislature the two biggest tax hikes in state history: “We had to decide to govern for the good of our constituents and not by platitude.” Keep in mind that just eight short months ago, Ms. Buckley was telling her constituents that the state should address its budget difficulties without imposing new and higher taxes.
At least Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford — another Las Vegas Democrat who insisted during the 2009 campaign that higher taxes weren’t on the table — had the good graces to keep his mouth closed Thursday while the was breaking his word and pushing the override of the governor’s tax veto.
Remember: Despite what you may have heard, state spending under the newly passed budget will be higher than it was under the previous plan. We are where we are today because for two decades lawmakers every two years opted for double-digit spending increases over fiscal restraint. Nothing that happened this session in Carson City indicates this pattern will change once revenues rebound.
Yes, the Republicans who went along with the override — John Carpenter, R-Elko, in the Assembly and Bill Raggio, R-Reno; Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas; Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas; Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora; and Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, in the Senate — can argue that they secured a few concessions from Democrats on the issue of public sector pension reform. Indeed, such change, however minimal, is important and long overdue. But it won’t result in budget savings for years while the taxes will be an almost immediate destructive force, especially during a recession.
These higher taxes — on room rates, business license fees, big company payrolls, vehicle fees and taxable goods — will hinder and slow the state’s road to economic recovery.
This budget, with its reliance on one-shot federal stimulus funds, optimistic revenue projections, the temporary raid of local government coffers, and minimal public sector sacrifice, is a monument to Democratic wishful thinking and duplicity. Republicans were correct to stand up for the bruised and battered private-sector taxpayer who has sacrificed at every turn during this recession but will now be forced by Democrats to provide the state bureaucracy with another $1 billion.
And make no mistake: if Ms. Buckley or some other Democratic hopeful manages to win the Governor’s Mansion in 2010, forget about the tax “sunsets” the GOP managed to impose and get ready for a tax hike package in 2011 or 2013 that will dwarf the one just passed.