Guinn goes for the registration rebate

Thanks, governor. In an announcement Thursday, Gov. Kenny Guinn said he would refund up to $300 on each vehicle registered by a Nevadan in 2004. In all, it will be a $300 million return to taxpayers.

Even though we've been calling for just such a rebate, we were stunned - pleasantly stunned, to be sure - by Guinn's proposal.

The governor has said on at least a couple of occasions he was going to be cautious with his budget and a $360 million expected surplus for Nevada. Even if he were inclined to favor a rebate, he also had said the vehicle-registration rebate didn't sound like the most equitable way to give money back to taxpayers.

But on Thursday he trumped Bob Beers three-fold. Beers, a Las Vegas Republican senator, had floated a proposal for $100 rebates on vehicle registrations, which he was told would cost the state's coffers about $70 million.

According to Guinn, he and his advisers have been kicking around the idea of a car-registration refund for six months. His spokesman pooh-poohed any notion that Guinn was reacting to Beers' proposal. He also said the governor's staff had considered a "no sales tax" day as a means of spreading Nevada's wealth.

No matter whose idea, Guinn should get credit for making a bold move. It's almost on par with the tax increases he unveiled in 2003.

Anybody who wanted to knock him down then should be lining up to shake his hand now.

In both cases, Guinn demonstrated leadership on the basis of what he believes is good for Nevadans. In the stretch run of his second term as governor, the political consequences for him were minimal.

Indeed, the political consequences fall more heavily in the lap of the Legislature, which turned Guinn's tax proposal into goulash but managed eventually to get it done. Here's hoping a tax refund, a far more politically palatable proposal, won't become hash in the hands of lawmakers.

Knowing the Nevada Legislature as we do, though, here's one bit of advice: Don't spend that rebate money until you have the check in your hand.


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