Week in review: spreading the word

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


With the establishment of Nevada’s new Education Savings Accounts program, it’s quite possible that Silver State students are the freest in the country.

Once the program goes into effect in January, any student who has been in public school for 100 days will have the opportunity to attend private school, receive a home-based education, be tutored, or experience any number of other individualized education environments using a portion of the money the state already spends to educate him or her.

For the first time ever, parents have a true say in how and where their children are educated, and all children have the opportunity to succeed. 

But that freedom doesn’t mean much if parents don’t know they have it.

That’s why, even though Nevada has approved universal ESAs, our work at NPRI is far from over. We have committed ourselves to going beyond making policy recommendations, to making sure parents know the ESA program exists and have all the information they need to use one of the $5,100-plus-per-year grants, if they decide that is the best option for their child.

Over the past few months, one of our long-time staff members, Karen Gray, took on a new role as our citizen engagement coordinator to help us spread the word at a grassroots level and meet parents one-on-one.

Today, she is standing with parents at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas to help walk them through the process of offering comment to the Nevada Treasurer, who is holding a public meeting to gather input on how the new ESA program should operate.

And tomorrow, we will hold our first informational meeting for parents to let them know about the opportunities created by this program that’s so new to Nevada. Karen will be joined by administrators at Mountain View Christian Schools — the co-host of tomorrow’s event and a Las Vegas private school that is able to accommodate 1,000 new students immediately — and the lawmaker responsible for introducing ESAs to Nevada, Sen. Scott Hammond.

Since announcing tomorrow’s event, we’ve had numerous inquiries into other informational meetings that will be held in Las Vegas, Reno and other parts of our state. While we don’t have those dates yet, we are actively working with schools and community groups to set up more of these meetings, so that every parent who wants to learn about how ESAs can help their child will be able to do so.

As I’ve explained before, ESAs will fundamentally transform the lives of students and the quality of education in our state. These grants are children’s tickets out of failing schools and into exceptional ones that prepare them for a successful life.

It never made sense to me that we’d take students with unique talents and abilities and stick them into a one-size-fits-all classroom and just hope they do well. For decades, Nevada schools have struggled to graduate students with basic English and math skills, yet for decades, defenders of the status quo have given us nothing but the same educational approach that has failed countless students.

Now that we finally have something different — a solution we at NPRI have long advocated for — let’s get out and spread the word so as many students as possible can start receiving the education they deserve.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Courage and cowardice

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


This week, we saw two very opposite sides of government: the side that values individual rights above the power of the state, and the side that thinks government power trumps any freedoms the people ostensibly have.

It started out on a good note. On Monday, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt held a press conference to announce his office had filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of our lawsuit on behalf of Victor Fuentes and his church, Ministerio Roca Solida (Solid Rock Church). 

The attorney general noted the irony of Pastor Fuentes swimming from Santiago, Cuba, to Guantanamo Bay to escape oppression by an unaccountable government, only to come to Nevada to have the federal government take his vested water rights utilizing a diversion dam to reroute a stream off his land — a stream which has traversed that property since as early as 1881.  Adding insult to injury, months after the diversion, the very water taken from the church was returned by way of floodwater when a Christmas eve rainfall caused the water rerouted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife to jump its newly and negligently constructed channel, resulting in significant damage to the church camp’s buildings.

Specifically, Laxalt is supporting our effort to have the Supreme Court overrule a lower court decision that, relying on some statutory oddities, found that Victor cannot seek remedy for the multiple rights violations he has endured. Instead, he must choose among them ─ which would of course prevent him from truly being made whole.

But Laxalt also spoke more broadly, and quite passionately, about some of the principles we value most at NPRI: individual liberty, property rights and the freedom to pursue the American Dream.

What happened to Victor is heartbreaking and infuriating. But it was encouraging to see the attorney general take a principled stand in behalf of individual rights.

Unfortunately, the very next day brought something quite different.

In U.S. District Court on Tuesday, U.S. attorneys representing the United States Fish and Wildlife Service argued that the government has complete discretion to flood a person’s property without any legal recourse in negligence.

Yes, you read that right.

Despite having caused nearly $90,000 worth of damage to private property by building a waterway that ­─ by the government’s own admission ─ could only sustain spring flow (and no rainwater flow), the federal government is actually trying to convince a judge that because it allegedly had discretion to reroute the waterway off private property in the first place, it cannot be held liable for any negligent acts it commits in carrying out that action.

In other words, the government believes that so long as it has the discretion to do X, it can’t be held responsible for how it does X ─ even if how it does X results in massive damage and destruction to neighboring private property.

It would follow, then, that if the judge sides with the federal government, agencies would be allowed to haphazardly conduct business with free rein to completely disregard the effects their negligent actions might have on the people they’re supposed to serve.

Really makes you eager to drive over a government-constructed bridge, doesn’t it?

The contrast between what Adam Laxalt said on Monday and what the federal government tried to pull on Tuesday could not be starker.

And it served as a useful reminder. There are indeed good and honorable people in public life who are willing to do the right thing. But there will always be those who will try to avoid accountability, and who will need to be confronted by liberty-loving citizens like you and me.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Week in review: It’s that time

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


I’ve had unions on the brain quite a bit lately, and understandably so.

For starters, Wednesday marked the beginning of the teacher union opt-out period for most of Nevada’s counties. From July 1-15, public school teachers belonging to Nevada State Education Association affiliates can choose to save hundreds of dollars a year (currently taken from them in the form of union dues) by walking away from their union.

As you’re probably aware, for the past several years we at NPRI have been working to let teachers know that they have this right. Many make the mistake of assuming that they have to belong to the union in order to teach in Nevada. The truth is that Nevada is a right-to-work state, which means no such requirement exists. And we’re making sure teachers know it.

In recent days, we started reaching out to teachers to alert them that the opt-out window is upon us. Most of the response, as usual, has been positive. But there are of course those few union fans who aren’t quite as grateful to hear from us.

In previous years, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing from some of the latter, who haven’t been shy about directing their fury toward my email inbox. Thankfully, this year it’s NPRI’s Chantal Lovell who’s bearing the brunt of the anger, though she’s shared a few of her favorite responses with me ─ most of which are not suitable for print in this space. But this one pretty much summed it up (and yes, the ALL CAPS were in the original):

ALL YOU ARE DOING IS TRYING TO BREAK UP UNIONS, NOT TRYING TO HELP TEACHERS!

What’s interesting, of course, is that those who are lashing out at us for informing teachers of their rights are, in a sense, proving our point. They personally like the union, and they’re exercising their choice to remain in it. No one, not even NPRI, is trying to stop them. And they are perfectly free to ignore our message.

But what about their colleagues who don’t share their affinity for union membership? Shouldn’t they be trusted to make their own decision as well? We certainly think so, and it’s telling that these union backers, who are perfectly within their right to remain in the union, are afraid of letting their co-workers know they have that choice.

There was some other interesting union-related news this week, from outside of Nevada’s borders. We Nevadans are fortunate to live in a right-to-work state, but not everyone can say the same, and that includes the neighboring state of California.

But the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to take up a case, which originated in the Golden State, that could deal a serious blow to the coercive powers that public-sector unions still enjoy in many places. The L.A. Times reports that:

At issue is the court’s 1977 precedent in Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, which today allows government worker unions in California and 20 other states to collect “fair share” fees to cover the costs of collective bargaining, even from employees who do not join or support the union.

Though the high court has said workers cannot be required to pay for a union’s political activities, it has concluded that they should contribute something toward a union’s cost of negotiating better wages and benefits for everyone.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Rebecca Friedrichs, a teacher in Orange County who along with a group of her colleagues is challenging the assessment of union fees against non-union members. Should she prevail, it would mark a huge victory for worker freedom that will be felt from coast to coast.

We’ll be watching this story closely, naturally, and here’s hoping that the day will soon arrive when workers nationwide are able to exercise the same rights as here in Nevada.

And in the meantime, we’ll continue to make sure that those who are in Nevada and want to leave their union have the information they need to do exactly that.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Teachers union assists NPRI

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


I must say, Nevada’s teacher union honchos have disappointed me this time.

Surely they can do better than this.

Can’t they?

That’s a video produced by the Nevada State Education Association, featuring NPRI’s Victor Joecks testifying on the serial failure of education spending hikes to improve student achievement.

You really need to watch it for yourself. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Weird, isn’t it? The video’s got just about everything one would expect from the union marketing machine. There’s the ominous music. The on-screen words introducing us to their bogeyman du jour. The video ─ eerily out of focus, naturally ─ of said bogeyman saying something antithetical to union dogma.

“Decades of spending increases haven’t increased student achievement.”

Cue the record-scratching sound effect. The replay of the terrifying sound bite. More on-screen text expressing shock and disbelief over the words that just came from the villain’s mouth.

And then…

Wait, nothing?

Well I’ll be…

I can only assume that, like me, you were left with a good deal of confusion when that video ended simply and abruptly by flashing a web address on the screen. It seems the PR team over in union land, in their rush to convict Victor for his hate speech, forgot to include something rather important ─ an argument.

Overcome with curiosity, I typed in the web address that the video had provided, thinking that maybe there I would find some sort of rebuttal, analysis or at the very least an anecdote or two that might seek to contradict Victor’s words. But still, nothing.

Even stranger is that a local affiliate of the union apparently posted that video on social media this week for all ─ including its own membership ─ to see. What this means is that thousands of teachers around the state received a powerful message that we at NPRI have been working hard for years to share with them ourselves ─ that more spending won’t improve our education system. And it was the teacher union itself that helped us get that message out, while letting our point go completely unchallenged.

I’m not sure how to respond, other than to say … thank you?

Perhaps the video’s creators thought Victor’s statement was so absurd on its face, so self-damning and certain to be greeted as such by the masses, that it didn’t require any response. If that’s what they think, then they haven’t been paying attention.

Remember the margin tax ballot initiative? That was a teacher union-backed effort predicated on the claim that Nevada’s poor educational performance was the result of insufficient spending. We at NPRI pointed out that the numbers tell a different story, as the past two decades have seen Nevada nearly double public education spending on a per-pupil, inflation-adjusted basis, without any increase in student achievement. Who won that debate? A full seventy-nine percent of voters rejected the margin tax at the polls.

What’s more, the evidence is mounting that even the union’s own members aren’t buying what the brass is selling. NPRI’s union opt-out awareness campaign has helped lead to more than 2,000 teachers and support staffers quitting their union altogether over the past three years, and hundreds more are no doubt getting ready to do the same in just a few days. What does it say about your organization that maintaining healthy membership numbers depends largely on tricking people into believing they have no choice but to belong?

Whether or not its leaders realize it, the teacher union’s credibility is shot. If they genuinely believe that public opinion is so favorably disposed toward their cause that they don’t even have to bother making the arguments to support it, then they are bathing in a pool of self-delusion from which they’re unlikely ever to emerge.

Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that their lack of awareness really is that complete. So I would expect them to feel compelled to offer at least something ─ anything ─ in that video to try to disprove Victor’s point. But they didn’t, and so we’re left with only one logical explanation as to why.

It’s because they know they can’t.

Take care,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Warning

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Nearly 200 NPRI supporters gathered at the Eldorado in Reno on Wednesday night for our fourth annual Spring Celebration. We were there, of course, to celebrate the Institute’s achievements over the past year, but also to commit ourselves to the important work that lies ahead.

And boy, is there a lot to do.

Our keynote speaker was Dr. Yuri Maltsev, a former economic advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev and now a professor at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Dr. Maltsev was part of the team that developed Gorbachev’s policy of perestroika, the term for the package of political and economic reforms implemented in the waning years of the Soviet Union.

Lots of people have sounded the alarm over the continuing slide into statism we’re experiencing here in the United States. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone issue that warning as incisively or with as much credibility as Dr. Maltsev did on Wednesday.

This is a man who saw first-hand the horrors that are unleashed when government is left unrestrained, and when the supposed good of the “collective” is elevated above the rights of the individual. Fortunately for Dr. Maltsev, he was able to defect to the U.S. from the Soviet Union in 1989 and leave those horrors behind him.

Or so he thought.

What Dr. Maltsev has observed, especially in recent years, is America’s slow but steady abandonment of the principles that inspired our nation’s founding, and our increasing acceptance of the kinds of government policies that have destroyed so many societies around the world.

His remarks on Wednesday night were meant as a wake-up call to those of us who love liberty and appreciate its unique power to foster prosperity and opportunity: We are letting it slip away.

The good news, according to Dr. Maltsev, is that it’s not too late. As far as we’ve drifted from our nation’s bedrock principles, we’ve not yet reached the point of no return. His warning, then, can also be seen as something else ─ a challenge to all of us to engage and win this crucial battle for our country’s future.

To those of you who joined us in Reno on Wednesday night, thank you for taking the time to hear that important message.

And to all of you, thank you for all you do to fight for the principles that made America the greatest country the world has ever known.

Your efforts are needed more now than ever.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Opt out

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


If you’re in Las Vegas, a glimmer of freedom may have caught your eye as you drove to work this morning.

Our latest billboard campaign — aimed at informing teachers and support staff or their rights — began yesterday and marked the start of our annual teacher union opt-out campaign. For the fourth year in a row, NPRI is reaching out to educators across the State of Nevada to make sure they know union membership is a choice and that, from July 1 to July 15, they may leave their union if they desire by submitting written notice to their union and, in some areas, their school district.

The billboards highlight one of the major benefits of dropping union membership — the ability to save hundreds of dollars a year in dues — but there are many other reasons teachers and support staff employees have been abandoning their local affiliates of the Nevada State Education Association.

While the billboards are certainly the most visible part of our efforts in Southern Nevada, they’re far from the only piece of the plan. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be communicating directly with teachers across the state through email and media coverage to inform them of this short, ill-timed opt-out window and some of the reasons educators have chosen to leave.

For many, the decision to leave the union was simple: They didn’t like the idea of financially supporting an organization that uses their money to work against them. For example, the NSEA and its local affiliates spent millions of dollars last year funding the failed margin tax campaign, which 79 percent of voters — presumably many of them teachers and support staff — voted against.

The union also funds groups that work to increase the availability of abortions and expand same-sex marriage legalization. While NPRI does not take a position on either issue, it’s safe to say teachers have strong feelings about these controversial issues and many would not support these groups financially if given the choice.

Others don’t like the idea of union bosses getting rich on their backs, or find the union unresponsive and, ultimately, unnecessary. And then there are the many educators who realize that the union’s promise of liability insurance isn’t such a bargain when private associations, like the Association of American Educators, offer twice the amount of insurance for a mere fraction of the price.

The list goes on and on, but what all the reasons boil down to is the understanding and belief that individuals can make better decisions about their lives and finances than a union or school district can. Union membership is voluntary, and we believe teachers and support staff deserve to have all the information needed to make this important decision for themselves and their families.

So if you know a teacher or support staff member, do that a person a favor and let him or her know there’s a choice when it comes to union membership. Encourage anyone who may be interested to visit NevadaTeacherFreedom.com to find out how to save money and gain freedom this summer.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Nevada kids are winning

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


In the days immediately following the November elections, NPRI published a series of articles on how Republicans could succeed in the 78th Legislative Session where Democrats have failed in past years.

The first installment laid out what we thought to be the most important opportunity that, if seized by the newly elected Republicans, would constitute the greatest step forward Nevada has taken in memory: reform education by enacting school choice.

And reform they did.

Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Brian Sandoval followed the lead of legislators and signed into law Senate Bill 302, creating the nation’s first universal Educational Savings Accounts program. Not only did Nevada make history through its ESA bill, it also, with the creation of the tuition tax credit scholarship program in April, became the first state to pass two pieces of school choice legislation in a single session.

By any measure, Nevada kids were the big winners of the 78th Legislative Session.

As I said in a statement following the governor’s signing of SB302, Education Savings Accounts will fundamentally transform the lives and futures of Nevada’s children.

For the first time ever, children who are struggling in public schools now have the opportunity to succeed in an educational environment that is tailored to their unique abilities and needs. Kids who have longed to be challenged in a more rigorous environment now have the chance to flourish in private, online or other alternative types of schools. Families who never before could afford private education will now be able to give their child what they know is best.

Through the ESA program, parents will be able to receive a portion of the public funds allocated to their child into a savings account. The amount available will generally range from $5,100 to $5,600 per year, with parents able to use those funds to pay for private school, online learning programs, tutoring, parented-coordinated education and even transportation. Under this program, parents, not government bureaucrats, will be allowed to follow the educational path they understand is right for their child.

And the benefits of this new program won’t be limited to the children whose families take advantage of it. Opponents claim that school choice programs such as Education Savings Accounts take money away from the public school system, thereby hurting traditional schools. But those people ignore the empirical evidence which has shown the exact opposite. By giving parents more options and creating a climate of competition, school choice forces public schools to do something they’ve never really been pressured to do: improve.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that school choice opponents — including the typical big-government types like teacher unions and administrators — call Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts program “the first step toward dismantling the nation’s public schools.” This is obviously an attempted scare tactic, but it does invite a question: If public schools continue to fail to provide a quality education with the ample tax dollars they’ve been given, then what good does it do for those schools to remain open? Some may indeed close, and in their places will emerge schools that thrive on the challenge to innovate and are more concerned with improving the lives of children than preserving the status quo.

Prior to the Legislative Session, NPRI committed to doing everything within its power to ensure the ESA idea became a reality. Now that we’ve succeeded, thanks in large part to the courage of Sen. Scott Hammond, who introduced this legislation, we are committing the Institute to ensuring all Nevada parents have the knowledge and tools available to give their child the gift of ESAs.

Our citizen engagement coordinator, Karen Gray, has already begun meeting with parents to teach them about these ESAs — which are only available in four other states, by the way — and help walk them through the process of researching possible schools for their children to attend. Over the next few months, you’ll see these efforts ramp up and become more publicized, but in the meantime, if you know of Nevada families that could benefit from this new opportunity, please reach out to Karen at kg@npri.org

The creation of Education Savings Accounts is a huge victory, not just for liberty lovers, but for anyone who desires to see Nevada’s children succeed in school. Now that we’ve overcome the hurdle of establishing this program, it’s time to spread the word and ensure that it’s not just the nation’s most expansive school choice program, but also the best.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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The governor’s refusal to compromise

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


We’re down to the final days of the Legislative Session and one thing is clear: Gov. Brian Sandoval is not interested in compromising on three key issues.

As he gave his State of the State address, Sandoval laid out three priorities that he actually campaigned against during his run for re-election: the largest tax increase in state history, passing a modified version of the margin tax and a massive expansion of government.

Those three issues are obviously interrelated, and Sandoval has refused to compromise on any of them.

Rather than pare back his initial $1.3 billion tax-increase proposal, which would have been the largest tax increase in state history, Sandoval has actually called for even higher taxes than he first proposed. Once the Economic Forum dropped revenue projections by $150 million due to transferable tax credits, Sandoval ally and Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson proposed raising the cigarette tax by $1, rather than the 40 cents per-pack increase Sandoval originally wanted. Combined with the Uber/taxi cab tax increase, total tax hikes will be around $1.5 billion, which is close to what the margin tax would have raised.

Sandoval hasn’t compromised. He’s doubled down.

Once it became obvious that Sandoval’s original gross-receipts tax proposal, SB252, was doomed, the governor came up with a new plan to introduce gross-receipts taxation. We’ve outlined the numerous structural and constitutional problems with his new plan, but here’s the most interesting and telling part.

The new gross-receipts tax, called the “commerce” tax, would net only $60 million in the next biennium. That would make it Nevada’s 12th largest tax source and account for less than 1 percent of Nevada’s general fund spending.

So why not compromise and eliminate the gross-receipts tax?

The subtle and not-so-subtle rumblings in the legislative building are that gaming companies want some form of a gross-receipts tax passed this session. The amount doesn’t matter as much, because those powerful lobbyists think they can expand it in upcoming sessions to the benefit of gaming institutions.

One wag even cracked that the special session will go as long as gaming wants it to go.

Once again, Sandoval has shown his loyalty to powerful special-interest groups, rather than to average families and businesses. He has refused to compromise on implementing a gross-receipts tax.

Sandoval’s recommended $7.3 billion budget has been trimmed “all the way down” to around $7.25 billion, but with “emergency” spending requests it will likely end up being greater than he originally proposed.

Last week a list of preferred spending levels from Assembly Republicans leaked, showing that just two Assembly Republicans wanted spending as high as the governor desired.

Has the governor compromised? Nope.

The governor is asking Assembly members to compromise their values and break their campaign promises, rather than do what is best for Nevadans.

On the three biggest fiscal issues of the session, compromising is simply something that the governor has refused to do.

That leaves two unappetizing scenarios: Either lawmakers capitulate to Sandoval or there’s going to be a special session.

If there is a special session — and right now that’s the best-case scenario for taxpayers — it will happen because Sandoval continuously refused to compromise.

The five on the fence still need to hear from you. Let them know your stance on the largest tax increase in state history and that there are so many Nevadans counting on them — other than just the lobbyists in Carson City.

Your elected representatives need to hear from you now more than ever.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Week in review: A letter to lawmakers

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Dear Assemblymen Nelson, O’Neill, Trowbridge, Edwards and Silberkraus:

Sometime in the next few days, you will make your most important decision of the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session. Given that you are all up for reelection next year, and are not guaranteed to be back for future sessions, it may well be the most important decision of each of your legislative careers.

That decision will be whether to support the largest tax hike in the history of the State of Nevada.

As my colleague Victor Joecks noted earlier this week, you five represent the crucial votes that will determine the outcome of the most important policy battle of the year. Gov. Brian Sandoval and his top legislative ally, Sen. Michael Roberson, are leading the charge to saddle hard-working Nevadans with $1.5 billion in new taxes. If they succeed, they will have truly made history — by using historic levels of Republican power in Carson City to implement the largest tax increase our state has ever seen.

I’m asking you to make sure they don’t succeed.

The pressure you’re under to support the tax hike is significant. Don’t think I don’t recognize and appreciate that. Both Gov. Sandoval and Sen. Roberson are Republicans who ran for reelection in 2014 on promises to keep taxes low and promote fiscal discipline. Both have broken their promises and, even as I write this, they are no doubt pressuring all of you to go back on the pledges you’ve made to your own constituents. The spotlight is on the five of you, and you’re no doubt feeling a lot of heat.

The reason I understand what it is you’re going through today is that we’ve been here before. Back in 2003, another Republican governor was pushing a massive tax-hike proposal. As is the case today, the final battlefield was the state Assembly, and the question then, as now, was whether 15 Assembly members — the number needed under the Nevada Constitution to prevent any tax increase — would stand strong against the governor’s efforts. 

As you consider the choice before you, I want each of you to ask yourself a question: If this is indeed the decision that will define your political legacy, what do you want that legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?

I want you to think back to the point when you first decided to pursue a political career, and when you decided to do so as a member of the major party that, historically at least, has stood for limited, responsible government. Why did you make the decisions you did? What was it that motivated you to enter public service?

What were the principles and ideals that inspired you, and what was it that you wanted to accomplish during your time in office?

If someone — perhaps a constituent of yours — were to have told you back then that the fate of the largest tax increase in state history would soon be in your hands, what would you have told that person you would do? What would you have told yourself?

The intellectual case against this tax hike has been made clearly and consistently by a number of people, including many of your legislative colleagues and, yes, those of us at the Nevada Policy Research Institute. I won’t rehash those arguments here, because I know you’ve heard them enough times already.

All that’s left for you to do now is choose.

Twelve years ago, 15 courageous Assembly members did indeed stand strong against the governor’s tax push. They earned the nickname “The Fearless Fifteen,” and today they are remembered as taxpayer heroes for sticking to their principles in the face of enormous pressure — pressure that was every bit as strong as what you face today.

And now, it’s your turn. You have the opportunity to decide how it is that you’ll be remembered.

I don’t have to tell you that if you choose to give in to the pressure and support this tax increase, you’ll invite a good deal of criticism from me and my NPRI colleagues.  You’ll be panned on talk radio, you’ll get ripped by conservative grassroots leaders, and you’ll get a lot of angry calls and emails from voters in your districts. Call it a hunch, but I have a feeling that a Mr. Chuck Muth might have a few words to say about your decision as well.

But don’t oppose this tax hike to appease any of us. Do it because you want to stand for something you know is important. Do it because you know that the principles that led you to seek public office in the first place are as true today as they were back then. Do it because you know that Nevadans deserve better than the same policies that have failed us for decades.

Do it because you know in your heart that it’s the right thing to do for our great state and its great people.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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What's in Sandoval's new tax package

Late last night, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s team released the legislative language for his new tax package. The tax package is being proposed as an amendment on AB464.

Less than 24 hours later, at 3 p.m. today, there will be a joint meeting of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees to discuss the amendment.

With only broad details being known beforehand, this will be a running blog of what’s in the bill.

Commerce tax

Sandoval is continuing his push for some form of a gross receipts tax and has changed the name of his gross receipts business license tax to a gross receipts “commerce” tax. Both versions of the tax are based on the same principle of taxation that voters rejected 4 to 1 in November.

In Sandoval’s gross receipts BLT proposal, there were over two dozen industry specific rates. In his new proposal, Sections 24 to 49, similar rates are maintained, although they will be assessed as rates, instead of being based on the tables from SB252.

The proposed rates are:

  1. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting: .063 percent
  2. Mining: .051 percent
  3. Utilities and telecommunications: .136 percent
  4. Construction: .083 percent
  5. Manufacturing: .091 percent
  6. Wholesale trade: .101 percent
  7. Retail trade: .111 percent
  8. Air transportation: .058 percent
  9. Truck transportation: .202 percent
  10. Rail transportation: .331 percent
  11. Other transportation: .129 percent
  12. Warehousing and storage: .128 percent
  13. Publishing, software and data processing: .253 percent
  14. Finance and insurance: .111 percent
  15. Real estate and rental and leasing: .25 percent
  16. Professional, scientific and technical services: .181 percent
  17. Management of companies and enterprises: .137 percent
  18. Administrative and support services: .154 percent
  19. Waste management and remediation services: .261 percent
  20. Educational services: .281 percent
  21. Health care and social assistance: .190 percent
  22. Arts, entertainment and recreation: .24 percent
  23. Accommodation: .2 percent
  24. Food services and drinking places: .194 percent
  25. Other services: .142 percent
  26. Unclassified business category: .128 percent

Total Records: 1892

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