2009 Year in Review: Budget hole dominates 2009 Legislature | NevadaAppeal.com

2009 Year in Review: Budget hole dominates 2009 Legislature

The 2009 Legislature was all about the budget and the tax hikes needed to fund it.

By any observer’s standards, it was ugly.

Democrats controlled both the Senate and Assembly for the first time since 1991. But they were two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto, which he promised for any and all tax increases.

That put Senate Republicans led by Reno’s Bill Raggio in the driver’s seat and they exacted a number of compromises before finally agreeing to a package that would raise some $780 million over two years. The most important compromise in Raggio’s mind was to sunset all of the tax increases in two years.

Gibbons made good his threat to veto tax and spending bills, rejecting a record 48 measures. The core group of Senate Republicans who had negotiated the deal kept their promise too, helping Democrats override 25 of those vetoes.

The package was hugely unpopular with state employees who were hit with an unpaid furlough day each month. It also was unpopular with local governments who were hit several ways for more than $200 million, including part of their property tax revenues.

It also was unpopular with those who say the state must lessen its reliance on sales and gaming taxes since most of the new money comes from increases to existing taxes with no real reduction in that dependence.

Senate Republicans demanded and got a two-year study they say is designed to make recommendations overhauling the state’s tax system in trade for supporting the plan.

– Geoff Dornan