Chuck Muth: Nevada Democrats have everything they need to raise taxes
November 6, 2008
There’s an old saying about being careful what you wish for because you just might get it. And Nevada Democrats got just about everything they asked for on Tuesday.
Not only did they win control of the Nevada state Senate, but they won a three-seat majority instead of a one-seat majority. Newly-minted Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford now only needs two Republicans to cross over to the dark side to give Democrats the 2/3 super-majority vote they need to raise taxes and over-ride Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto.
Actually, when you factor in “Republican” State Sen. Dennis Nolan ” who’s rarely met a tax hike or government regulation he didn’t give a big ol’ bear hug to ” Horsford probably will only need to twist one GOP arm. And if history is any guide ” remember: Only two Republican senators voted against the largest tax hike in history in 2003 ” he won’t have to twist very hard.
Over in the Assembly, Republicans managed to somehow actually lose yet another net seat in this election ” thus giving Democrats and Speaker Barbara Buckley the 2/3 super-majority they need to raise taxes and over-ride a Gibbons’ veto. And there WILL be at least one tax hike coming before legislators next year, whether they like it or not.
The teachers union and a trio of “I hope the alligator eats me last” casinos have gathered a sufficient number of citizen signatures on a petition to force the Legislature to vote up-or-down on a plan to sock the few remaining tourists who can still afford to come to Nevada with a hike in their room tax. In a bygone era, we called this “taxation without representation.”
It’s also called killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Tourism is the life-blood of Nevada’s economy. That’s why the government and the gaming industry spend so much money marketing Nevada around the galaxy.
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But what’s done is done. And now Democrats are going to have to cast a very painful vote. Those who vote in favor of the tax hike may as well paint a political bullseye on their backs. I’m sure Assemblyman Ty Cobb, the most politically attuned Republican in the lower house, is already designing the mailers in his head. Democrats who haven’t thought about this yet are gonna be cursing their teachers union friends under their breaths right around the Ides of March for forcing them to cast this vote.
Of course, theoretically the Democrats could just vote “no” on the initiative, which would send it directly to the people for a vote. But that would royally tick off a powerful ally. So the D’s are gonna have to suck it up and bite the bullet. Gibbons will then veto the tax hike ” and Democrats will have to vote for it a SECOND time in order to over-ride his veto. Yee-haw!
This, of course, will enable the governor to go into his re-election campaign two years from now reminding voters that he kept his “no new taxes” promise and that it was the bad ol’ Democrats who voted to raise them. Now which side of this issue would you rather be on if you were a candidate in 2010?
This is not to say Gibbons isn’t facing his own problems next year. He still has to find about $1 billion in spending cuts or new revenue ” without raising taxes ” to close the projected budget gap. And unlike in his first session in 2007, he won’t have his predecessor’s budget to blame. This one will be pure Gibbons.
No matter what the governor tries to cut, somebody’s gonna squeal like a stuck pig. Lots of stuck pigs. Loudly. VERY loudly. And the only way to avoid this unpleasantness without raising taxes is to find a billion dollar pot of gold somewhere over the rainbow. And that rainbow appears to end at … Yucca Mountain. Hmmmmm.
– 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 http://www.muthstruths.com. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org