Live blogging the IFC tax study working group

Victor Joecks

***Scroll for updates***

This is the working group, chaired by Sen. Raggio, that is tasked with recommending a group to conduct the tax study.

If you’re wondering why this tax study matters, remember that it is going to be the excuse politicians use to try and raise your taxes in 2011. Consider this quote from gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid.

In announcing his candidacy, the Democrat also joined his Republican competitors in failing to articulate how he would plug the state’s estimated $2 billion budget hole. He’s reserving judgment on the state’s tax structure until an independent commission reveals its recommendations next year.

Also remember this isn’t an unbiased study. As Assemblyman Anderson said in the first meeting, “We don’t have money. That’s the reason we’re doing the study.”

9:10 Meeting begins. The funding for the study has been approved by the Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners recommended $500,000 for the study, but as we learned last time, that’s only a recommendation. The IFC can spend as much as they want.

9:18 Sen. Raggio pulls a Gibbons. His cell phone goes off and he checks his missed call. Sen. Raggio says the study needs to be credible, meet requirements of the Legislature.

9:23 Alright, the top two or three groups will present at the next subcommittee meeting, which will be in approximately 2 weeks.

9:33 Sen. Kirkpatrick and Sen. Horsford both applaud UNR’s visioning statement. Wouldn’t UNR conducting this revenue “review” be a clear conflict of interest, because they are a publicly funded institution?

9:36 Here’s the tally so far. Moody’s is the clear front runner. Willdan is in second. And UNR’s getting big points for its “visioning” statement.

9:41 Wow. Raggio sounds like a liberal (“We’re not funding essential services”) and then he knocks down the UNR proposal, because it could look self-serving (given that they are a public university — and exactly the point I just made). He also likes Moody’s the most.

9:47 Initial results 1. Moody’s 2. Willdan 3. UNR/NV Consultants

9:52 A couple of things regarding Sen. Raggio’s comments on state spending. First, per capita spending has increased by over 33 percent since 2005 and over 25 percent since 1994. Second, more spending does not guarantee better results. In fact, that study indicates that more spending decreases results.

9:59 Sen. Horsford has just requested and received a 10 minute recess. There’s been some controversy over third place. UNR received 4 third place votes and NV Consultants received 2 second place votes. So they each had 4 points total. Sen. Horsford appears to really want UNR to make a presentation to the subcommittee or not want NV Consultants to make one. My guess is that Sen. Horsford is going to use this brief recess to talk off the record with some committee members to obtain the results he wants.

10:09 This break is a good chance to review SCR 37, which created this subcommittee.

RESOLVED, That in conjunction with the revenue stabilization study process, the consultant shall:
1. Collect independent data on Nevada’s national rankings in quality-of-life areas; and
2. Coordinate with the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group to develop strategies to advance Nevada’s national standing in critical quality-of-life areas;

Remember that the Stakeholder Group is going to be drawn from the five groups that are the biggest spenders in Nevada. This is why it doesn’t matter how independent or reputable the group is that prepares the tax study — they have been specifically tasked with coming up with a proposal to raise taxes. So guess what? The study is going to recommend raising taxes.

10:14 The working group recommends Moody’s, Willdan, UNR and NV Consultants.

10:23 Knight Allen, in public comment, also points out that UNR has a conflict of interest. UNR would be asked to judge the quality of Nevada’s revenue structure and they would also benefit directly from higher taxes in Nevada.

I’m posting my thoughts in real time, so please forgive any spelling errors. I’m also going back through and proof reading it as I get a chance, so the text may change slightly.