Tax train has to get back on track
June 10, 2003
No wonder Nevada legislators are having a hard time agreeing on a tax plan.
Now in their second special session, they have resurrected an idea that died two years ago — a tax on business profits. It was part of the package which failed Saturday night, and it’s anybody’s guess what might pass muster today.
And that’s exactly the problem.
After a year’s study by the governor’s task force and a 120-day legislative session, the tax plan that will make history in Nevada has come down to total guesswork.
Where is the analysis of the combination of taxes being proposed? It’s being done on the fly, with the best estimates anybody with a calculator can throw at it.
Where is the public comment? There is none. The interests being heard in the Legislative Building now are exclusively special and political.
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No matter what tax plan comes about now, it will be a bad one because no one will be willing to take responsibility for it.
Gov. Kenny Guinn and legislative leaders have backed themselves into their respective corners.
Guinn is playing hardball now and holds the deciding vote. He has been issuing warnings about shutting down governmental services, including schools, if he doesn’t get a tax plan to his liking.
Legislators did what no responsible business or family would do — decide what it was going to spend without knowing where it would get the money.
This is not a train wreck. This is a locomotive that has left the tracks and is slowly plunging into oblivion, taking the residents and businesses of Nevada with it.
Of all the scenarios envisioned when the legislative session opened in February, this is the worst. The inability of the Nevada Legislature to deal with its most important and fundamental task only deepens the cynicism of the people it represents.
It may take another three months, or another six months, but the Senate and Assembly should reopen the state’s spending budgets. The members must come to an agreement on a revenue plan, then decide where their expense priorities lie.
The delay will be painful. But not so painful as two years of tax policy created out of thin air.