Live blog: IFC’s tax study meeting

Victor Joecks

Updates after the jump. Scroll down for the latest…

As we promised last week, Geoff and I are attending the IFC’s tax study meeting. And thanks to the Internet, you can follow along with this live blog and watch the meeting online here. Scroll down a bit and the tax study meeting is the first meeting listed at that link.

9:05 So far I’ve seen eight legislators here in the Las Vegas meeting. The other locations are online and we’re waiting for the meeting to begin

9:06 And it begins. They have a quorum with some members en route.

9:10 At the last meeting, the committee put out a Request for Proposal (RFP). Advertised in several places. Companies that are interested in conducting the study asked 21 clarifying questions, which the legislative staff was required to respond to. I’ll be referring to those questions and answers throughout this live blog.

9:13 Companies that want to conduct this tax study must submit bids by Oct. 1.

9:15 This isn’t just a tax study. Sen. Horsford’s talking about developing a plan for the state in the key quality-of-life areas – education, diversify economy, health. “What we as Nevadans want to see in our state.” Why is this the government’s job? Especially for unelected members of the “vision stakeholder” group.

9:20 Yep, the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group (NVSG) is just going to be used as a reason to raise taxes. Here’s how the argument will go. “The NVSG says we should rank higher in education spending. The NVSG has studied Nevada’s situation and set quality-of-life goals. Therefore we need to raise taxes to achieve this goal for Nevada.” It’ll be more nuanced than that, but that’s going to be the argument for tax increases. And never mind that Nevada has increased inflation-adjusted, per-pupil, education spending by over 150 percent in the last 60 years, but results have been stagnant.

9:28 Proposed size of NVSG is 15 people. How can 15 people determine what quality of life looks like for 3 million people? Every individual is unique with his or her own goals and interests. This is why government’s role is designed to be limited.

9:30 Sen. Kirkpatrick makes the argument I just wrote – How can 15 people represent a state as diverse as Nevada?

9:35 Horsford responds – we have eight or nine months to do this. Stakeholders will reach out. All meetings are public meetings. A starting document for a strategic vision plan.

Wow, so many cliches in so little time.

9:37 Assemblyman Anderson is also concerned that 15 isn’t enough to include smaller groups.

9:45 NVSG members to be appointed in October.

9:55 Horsford: “There is a strategic element to what has to be done here.”

9:59 Horsford’s statement is a good reminder that these meetings are all part of a strategy. How can the legislature justify taking more of your money in 2011?

10:07 No reimbursement for travel or time. That cost will be shouldered by the organizations who nominated them. As Sen. Matthews is saying this limits the members of the NVSG to those who can afford the expense.

10:09 Horsford: We have no money for time or travel. We are using contingency funds for the consultant.

Don’t forget this when legislators say there’s no fat left in the budget. Lawmakers “found” the $500,000 for this study after the governor vetoed the original funding.

10:18 A passing comment from Assemblymen Anderson reveals the true purpose of this study. “We don’t have money. That’s the reason we’re doing the study.”

10:24 From the Draft proposal for getting members of the NVSG:

“The members of the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group will be selected from a list of names submitted by community and statewide interested parties involved in the areas of commerce and industry, education, health and human services, public safety, and infrastructure.”

10:25 Think about that. Five groups that will be charged with improving Nevada’s quality of life and four groups are financially vested in receiving state money. Hmmm, I wonder if groups that benefit directly from government largess will want more or less of your money?

10:36 Discussing the RFP and selecting a consultant. Sen. Horsford asks Sen. Raggio to chair a working group on proposals.

10:38 A review of Nevada tax studies after a five-minute break. We may be out by noon.

10:55 Somewhat ironic to be reviewing Nevada’s past tax studies at a meeting commissioning another tax study. Why do we need another study? To use it as political cover to try and justify another tax increase in 2011.

10:58 Legislative staff (Russ Guindon) just admitted that, in previous tax studies, the legislature basically purchased the results it wanted. For instance, the 1966 tax study gave priority “to additional gaming taxes and the economic positions of gaming.”

11:08 Past tax studies are available here. Look under Studies Required by Legislation in the right column.

11:12 Most hopeful thing about this tax study meeting: This review of previous tax studies that have failed to raise taxes.

11:13 Next meeting will probably be at the end of October. Only thing left is public comment. 15-20 people here in Vegas. I suspect there will be a few public comments. Could be quite interesting.

11:20 Sen. Horsford will appoint working group members (for selecting the NVSG members and for selecting who will do the tax study) by Wednesday.

11:35 With three public comments, two from Geoff and myself (his being much more substantial than mine), the meeting is adjourned.

A more detailed wrap-up and thoughts this afternoon.

NOTE: This post was edited after the meeting for clarity.