Surprise: Liberals want to make ‘temporary’ tax increases permanent

Victor Joecks

Of course if you've been paying attention — and since you're reading this blog I know you are — this isn't a surprise at all.

If some Nevada lawmakers have their way, the sun may never set on the $650 million tax increase that was supposed to be temporary.

The tax increase, originally passed in 2009 to help the budget through the worst of the recession, was set to expire or “sunset,” but it has not done so. Now, some legislators are saying some of the increases should be permanent.

The Legislature’s tax committees plan to meet at 1 p.m. today to begin that discussion.

“Instead of just kicking something down the road two more years, this is the time to make the decision on those,” said Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas. “Are we going to keep doing them, or are we going to stop doing them?”

I hate to play the NPRI-told-you-so card, but NPRI told you so. Here's what Geoffrey Lawrence, NPRI's deputy policy director, said after the Legislature passed these "temporary" taxes in 2009.

It's likely that if those who voted to raise the tax burden in this session return in 2011, they will claim that an indefinite extension of those "temporary" tax increases would not be a tax hike at all, since Nevadans would already be paying the new taxes.

And here's what Kirkpatrick recently told the Las Vegas Sun:

“Folks have already been paying [the sunset taxes] for four years, and they're pretty already accustomed to it,” Kirkpatrick said.

Here's what Lawrence wrote after the Legislature and Gov. Brian Sandoval extended the sunsets in 2011:

Lifting the sunsets also underscores the dangers of a “temporary tax hike” — when government agencies use one-time revenues to fund ongoing operations, they become dependent on those revenues and the “temporary” taxes rarely expire.

With the sunset date being pushed to 2013, Nevada’s citizens will now have to wait at least two more years for their politicians to keep their word.

And why do Democratic leaders want to permanently raise your taxes?

To avoid playing defense every legislative session, some Democrats have said that some of the taxes should be permanent, especially when they pay for services such as public education that have broad, bipartisan support.

The negative impacts of permanently extending the sunset taxes are two-fold. First, higher taxes take money away from individuals, families and the economy.

Second, higher taxes would allow government to keep pouring money into broken systems — especially K-12 education — instead of implementing the structural reforms that cost less and increase results.

That's another lose-lose scenario that's easy to predict.