In several respects, the 2017 Nevada Legislature was the natural result of its 2015 predecessor. That year, politicians who’d campaigned as “conservatives” won control of both chambers as well as the governor’s mansion. Yet they then proceeded, forthwith, to explicitly ignore a powerful anti-tax message voters had sent just the previous fall.
Siding with an ostensibly popular governor who will never run for reelection again, they imposed upon Nevadans a largely un-conservative and economically destructive agenda, the keystone of which was an ill-advised gross-receipts tax.1
Today labeled the state “commerce” tax, the measure demolished any remaining claims made by either major political party to defend small business,2 free markets or Nevada taxpayers.
Though Nevada voters had overwhelmingly rejected a similar ballot measure by a 79-to-21 percent margin,3 Gov. Brian Sandoval, once reelected, exerted maximum political muscle to drive the ill-conceived tax into law. The broad consensus among tax economists that gross receipts taxes are more destructive than alternatives, and largely serve already powerful lobbying interests, was ignored.
After the debacle, ordinary Nevada taxpayers had little reason to trust Republicans to represent their fiscal interests. Such demoralization likely contributed to Democrats’ recapture of both chambers of the 2017 Legislature.
It is to ensure that Nevada’s elected officials are held to account for the votes they cast that NPRI publishes this legislative report card after every session.
Regularly, NPRI’s Review and Report Card has proven to hold exceptional predictive power in subsequent elections. We expect the 2018 election cycle will be no different.