AB 46 and Sandoval’s ‘no new taxes’ ruse

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.

AB 46 and Sandoval’s ‘no new taxes’ ruse

For most of this past week, I was in Northern Nevada, meeting with many friends and supporters of NPRI. I always enjoy being up there, and not only because of the stunning natural beauty surrounding Reno and at Lake Tahoe.

What I enjoy most are my conversations with engaged citizens who are battling for limited, accountable government on a daily basis. And one of the biggest battles going on in Washoe County right now is over Assembly Bill 46. AB 46 authorizes the Washoe County Commission (WCC) to raise property and sales taxes, with the vote of a two-thirds majority, to increase revenues for the Washoe County School District.

There are plenty of problems with this bill, the most obvious being that a “tax authorization” bill is an attempt to circumvent the Gibbons tax restraint constitutional amendment, which requires that all taxes be approved by two-thirds of both houses of the Nevada Legislature, or by a vote of the people.

Legislators didn’t want to vote to raise taxes, so they passed AB 46 to enable the WCC to raise taxes, and empowered the Clark County Commission to raise the gas and sales taxes through different bills.

The fight in Washoe County is still ongoing, with the WCC recently asking a state court to determine whether the enabling legislation is constitutional. (Hint: It’s not.)

The Clark County Commission has already approved a gas-tax increase, and the debate over the sales-tax increase is ongoing.

Needless to say, the last legislative session produced several new taxes, even if they were authorized in an unconstitutional manner. And I haven’t even mentioned the higher taxes we all face as a result of Gov. Sandoval and legislators extending the “sunset” taxes, including a higher sales tax, a higher Modified Business Tax for some employers and a doubling of the business license fee.

It’s a taxing situation out here.

Which is why it’s astonishing to see this headline on Gov. Sandoval’s campaign website. It reads: “$486 million more for education without raising taxes.”

Or this picture on Gov. Sandoval’s twitter account proclaiming “Better schools No new taxes.”

No new taxes? This is the governor who called a special session to make sure the “More (for highly paid) Cops tax” enabling legislation got pushed through.

No new taxes? This is the governor who announced he supported raising taxes 10 months before the 2013 session even began.

No new taxes? There’s a reason the governor scored just 36.11 percent on NPRI’s Report Card, and part of the reason is that he supported and authorized numerous tax increases.

If there are no new taxes here in Nevada, why are you and I and every other Nevadan keeping less of our hard-earned money?

As I learned first-hand from my friends in Washoe County who are fighting AB 46, there certainly were new taxes passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Sandoval.

To claim otherwise reminds me of the title of a Judge Judy book: “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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