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Democrats move to plans B and C for Nevada property tax increases

While making definitive predictions with 52 days left in the Legislative session is a good way to end up with rhetorical egg on your face, I’m calling it now: There will be no property tax increase this session.

I told you previously about Assembly Bill 43, the property tax increase local government officials and Democrats claim they need to “stabilize” property taxes. That bill will not officially die until June 5, but there are two ways you can tell it’s toast.

First, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, and his caucus remain opposed to a property tax increase. Because tax increases need two-thirds approval, Democrats have no path to passage.

Second, Democrats have all-but abandoned the bill. But they have plans B and C to raise your property taxes.

Plan B is a study of Nevada’s property tax system, which both Assembly Concurrent Resolution 7 and Senate Bill 489 call for. While a study sounds innocent, the intentions behind it are not. Most legislative studies are simply show trials. The conclusion — raise your property taxes — is a given, and the meetings are carefully choreographed performances to show that the state’s powerful special interest groups have figured out what’s best for everyone.

Plan C is Senate Joint Resolution 14, which proposes to put a property tax increase into Nevada’s constitution. Constitutional amendments do not need two-thirds approval, but they must be passed by both houses in two consecutive sessions and be approved by voters in the following general election.

SJR14 would increase property taxes on buyers of used homes. Currently, Nevada depreciates a property’s structure, which lowers taxes based on property age, not ownership. SJR14 would reset depreciation upon sale.

In her Tuesday presentation on SJR14, Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, estimated this could increase property taxes by over 150 percent — from $794 to $2,014 for the purchaser of a $250,000 house built in 1963.

In her presentation, Ratti bemoaned that “Our property taxes in Nevada are already significantly lower than most every other state in the nation.”

Silly me. I thought that was a good thing. Ratti concluded that low property taxes revenues mean “we can’t afford services.”

What we can’t afford are the thousands of government employees and retirees making $150,000, $200,000 or even $250,000 a year in total compensation. Boosting property tax collections will only further inflate those sky-high salaries.

Property tax increases are dead in 2017, but Democrats’ desire to take more of your money is alive and well.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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