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State near top in business climate

The 13th annual “Small Business Survival Index,” compiled by the Oakton, Virginia-based Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, ranks Nevada second nationally for its friendliness to small businesses — second only to South Dakota — primarily because of the Silver State’s favorable tax structure, the nonprofit small business advocacy group recently announced.

Wyoming ranked third best in the results — released last month — followed by Florida, Washington state, and Texas.

The least business friendly states were listed as Rhode Island, Maine, California, New Jersey, and — in 51st place — the District of Columbia, though the authors added: “Please note that the District of Columbia was not included in the studies covering three of the measures included in the Index, so D.C.’s last place score actually should be even worse.”

Given that the U.S. Congress gets its way in administering D.C. more directly than in any state, the finding gives new meaning to the old admonition that investments are safe only when Congress is not in session.

Colorado also made the business-friendly top 10. New York, and Minnesota ranked near the bottom.

SBE Council chief economist Raymond J. Keating, author of the study, said: “The U.S. economy is in a serious downturn, and the outlook for a robust recovery seems remote. That means state and local policymakers face some very difficult decisions, especially on budget matters. Depending on the policy course that state lawmakers choose, they can either make the economic situation in their own state better or far worse.”

“Quite often,” the economist continued, “policies have unintended consequences for small businesses when they raise costs, create uncertainty and diminish incentives for starting up, investing in and building a business.”

The Survival Index measures factors including taxes, regulatory costs, government spending, property rights, health care and energy costs.

As the Nevada Legislature prepares for its biennial session — with threats on the wind to punish local businesses and the tourists they serve with higher taxes in order to “spare further pain” to state taxmen, regulators, and other bureaucrats — here’s hoping a few voices are still raised to point out that Nevadans made this inhospitable desert flower by adopting policies that advanced small business growth, job creation and entrepreneurship.

This is hardly the time to abandon that proud — and proven — tradition.

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