Legislature should do trimming of taxes | NevadaAppeal.com

Legislature should do trimming of taxes

Nevada Appeal editorial board

The “Axe the Tax” initiative won’t be on your November ballot, and that’s probably a good thing.

An axe was an appropriate metaphor for the initiative petition, which would have taken a hatchet to the tax increases approved by the 2003 Legislature and felled the entire tree.

Despite the protestations of some elected officials, past and present, we’re sure state government would have somehow managed to function without the $833 million increase in taxes. But it wouldn’t have been pretty.

According to a count of signatures, petition backers fell short of the required number for the ballot. Nevertheless, it’s worth nothing that nearly 50,000 people did sign the petitions and polls showed the initiative may well have been approved if it had gone to the voters.

Nothing surprising there. Who doesn’t want lower taxes? The real questions, however – the questions over which Nevada legislators labored for those many weeks in the summer of 2003 – have to do with fine-tuning increases and decreases. Which taxes, by how much, and what will still be able to afford without them?

Few questioned the need then for at least some tax increase. Now that the economy is well on its way to recovery and state revenues are more than healthy, the same debates need to take place in 2005 – this time with an eye toward reducing the increases and making sure the burden is fairly distributed.

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“Axe the Tax” supporters have made several valid points. We certainly expect them to take their tax-cutting, budget-pinching arguments to the Legislature.

But somewhere between a chain saw and a scalpel is the tool needed to guarantee that state government is adequately funded without gouging Nevada taxpayers. We’d favor a butcher knife as our metaphor, trimming away the fat and leaving nothing but the prime cuts of meat.