Leaders of the RIP Commerce Tax group trying to ditch that part of Nevada’s new tax package made their case Wednesday and solicited financial support for a referendum repeal bid.
Nevada Controller Ron Knecht, president of the organization expected to file papers with the Nevada Secretary of State today, said 55,233 petition signatures would be needed to put the repeal referendum on the ballot but predicted upward of 80,000 would sign if they can be reached. Knecht, Assemblyman Jim Wheeler of Douglas County and Theresa Catalini of NV 80 appeared at a Nevada Business Connections (NBC) breakfast meeting to push their cause.
Wheeler said the effort would carry significant costs and asked for donations of $1,000 or more.
“Let me be the first,” Bill Miller of Bill Miller Engineering shouted from the audience of more than 50 when Wheeler initially proposed people get out their check books and donate $1,000. Miller earlier had complained during a question-answer period about Gov. Brian Sandoval, along with Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill of Carson City and others who supported the commerce tax, who enacted the legislation. He basically called them Republican turncoats.
“All they did was stab us in the back,” Miller said.
Also from the audience came concerns the negative impact of the commerce tax would affect all businesses, at least indirectly, including exporting industries that aren’t directly in the path of the tax. Karl Hutter of Click Bond, Inc., one of Carson City’s largest manufacturers, said Nevada sub-contractors doing business with exporting concerns like his would be hit. The Click Bond president/CEO said that will be passed on in costs to larger concerns.
Ray Bacon of Nevada Manufacturers Association, Knecht and Wheeler noted administrative information burdens would escalate for all firms, even exporters. Knecht and Wheeler both saw the tax as the opening salvo in another government growth scenario, a scenario Knecht said has long been underway nationally, in the state and locally.
Knecht said the commerce tax is the camel’s nose under the tent that would be followed by two humps if it isn’t stopped. He said basically it will pit various business interests against each other in future legislative sessions when what he called the political class will consider changes. “If you’re not at the table,” as he put it, “you’re on the menu.”
He said commerce tax repeal would cut merely 2 percent of the budget even though tax proponents would portray repeal advocates as hard-hearted regarding the elderly and kids.
Catalini, whose NV 80 effort is joining forces with RIP Commerce Tax, said she’s concerned those who think their votes don’t count are going to have their “fears validated” unless the tax is repealed.
The NBC breakfast audience also heard from Chuck Barnett of Dura-Bond Bearing Co., which makes parts for rebuilt engines and transmissions. He called himself the warm up act, said his company came to Carson City from Palo Alto, Calif., in 1987, and survived by being nimble and adapting. The firm, in business since 1947, now employs 58 in a plant of 78,000 square feet here and exports worldwide.
In addition, the crowd heard from Kris Holt, NBC director, who said he lost three members but gained five in fallout or reaction after he put commerce tax repeal advocates on his Wednesday breakfast program. He said his advisory board members were contacted in an effort to roil them, though all but one stayed, and added his NBC website had been hacked but the problem has since been fixed.