Stumbling governor goes wobbly on tax pledge

As if the increasingly public and messy Gibbons divorce wasn't bad enough, Nevada citizens are now treated with the spectacle of a governor who was accused two years ago of inappropriate behavior with a young woman while walking her to her car after a night of wining and dining appointing someone to head up the just-created SAGE Commission who was accused five years ago of inappropriate behavior with a young woman while walking her home after a night of wining and dining. Good grief.


Admittedly, there is no "proof" that either man was guilty of anything other than bad judgment. However, we're talking politics here, where perception is reality. And the reality is Gov. Gibbons, as well as some members of his staff and top advisors, knew about the accusations against the SAGE commissioner ... but appointed him anyway.


This is just the latest example in a long line of questionable and botched appointments, actions and policy decisions. And you simply can't blame this all on the "liberal press." The fact is Jim Gibbons and his administration have often been their own worst enemies. If shooting yourself in the foot was an Olympic event, these people would be gold medalists.


And it's not just personal behavior problems, which, arguably, have nothing to do with the governor's job of governing the state. Also last week we witnessed the governor going wobbly on his "no new taxes" pledge - perhaps the only thing keeping many fiscal conservatives such as myself in the Gibbons camp.


As you know, the teachers union is trying to gather enough signatures to put a gaming tax hike on the ballot this November. Obviously, the gaming industry is opposed. So they're trying to negotiate with the teachers to yank their initiative in return for the gaming industry's support for a hike in the room tax. And the governor has reportedly signed off on the deal providing the Legislature first puts this effort to raise taxes on the ballot as an "advisory question."


Apparently the governor and some people on his staff are having difficulty reading and/or understanding the plain language of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge the Governor made to the people of Nevada when he ran for governor in 2006. So please allow me to reprint it here verbatim so that there is no further confusion on this issue: "I, Jim Gibbons, pledge to the taxpayers of Nevada, and all the people of this State, that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes."


Make no mistake. If the teachers gather enough signatures to put a tax hike on the ballot this year, the governor is obligated by the Taxpayer Protection Pledge he signed in 2006 to oppose it. Likewise, if the Legislature - rather than the people themselves through the signature-gathering process - attempts to put even an "advisory question" on the ballot in an effort to raise taxes, the governor is obligated by the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to oppose and veto any such effort should it reach his desk.


Any effort to raise taxes through a legislatively created "advisory question" rather than gathering signatures from citizens to do such a thing is absolutely, positively, without question, no-doubt-about-it an effort to increase taxes. And Gov. Gibbons absolutely, positively, without question, no-doubt-about-it is obligated by the pledge he signed to oppose any such effort and veto any such bill should it come before him. If not, he will have absolutely, positively, without question, no-doubt-about-it broken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge he signed. I can't make it any clearer than that.


Forget the cocktail waitress, the divorce and other tabloid transgressions. A violation of his Tax Pledge would doom any thoughts of a second Gibbons gubernatorial term, if not an early end to the first. Which reminds me, I wonder how strongly Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki feels about the Taxpayer Protection Pledge HE signed in 2006?




• Chuck Muth, of Carson City, is president and CEO of Citizen Outreach and a political blogger. Read his views Fridays on the Appeal Opinion page or visit www.muthstruths.com. You can e-mail him at chuck@chuckmuth.com.

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