Thursday, December 20, 2012

"The T Word"... & The Tiny Box It's In

Even though some still don't want to talk about it in public, there's increasingly been more buzz behind the scenes and on center stage about "The T Word". And interestingly enough, public safety concerns have brought this issue back to the forefront. And Governor Brian Sandoval
is weighing in a somewhat surprising way.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wednesday he will support a quarter-cent sales tax increase in Clark County to pay for more police officers.

Sandoval cited Clark County voters’ approval in 2004 of a half-cent sales tax increase — only a quarter-cent has been enacted so far — for police.

“Given the importance of public safety to Clark County’s economy and to the citizens of our state’s most populated county, I plan to support the decision of voters of Clark County and sign this measure if it passes the 2013 Legislature,” Sandoval said in a statement provided at the request of the Sun.

Of course, he then had to declare yet again his aversion to "new taxes"... While simultaneously beefing up his "moderate" bona fides by declaring yet again his intention to extend the "Never Really Sunsetting Taxes".

He has, though, rallied Republican support for extending up to $620 million worth of state taxes to prevent cuts to education and health and human services that would otherwise expire in 2013. He said he would cut some business taxes in the budget proposal he will present to the Legislature in January.

Sandoval said earlier this month that raising taxes would hurt businesses as the state’s economy recovers.

Here's what confuses me. Sandoval keeps mouthing the G-O-TEA talking point that "raising taxes hurts the economy". Yet when push comes to shove, he wants to continue indefinitely the flawed policies of the 2009/2011 "Sunset Tax" deal while avoiding talk of real tax reform that can actually provide relief for working families (instead of the usual coddling of the 1% while hitting working families and small businesses the hardest). Oh, and apparently now it's OK to allow for another sales tax bump in Clark County to better fund Metro.

We all know what this is really about. Just read between the lines in Ray Hagar's blog entry from last week.

Sandoval and his moderate stances are in position to dominate this 2013 Legislature for two reasons:

Popularity is the first. There is no GOP hard-liner or Democrat tough enough to take him out in 2014. Secondly, Sandoval raised around $800,000 for GOP State Senate candidates. In the tit-for-tat of politics, some state senators owe him. [...]

Republican state senators who ran on the no-new-taxes platform along with Sandoval in 2010 —like caucus leader Michael Roberson of Henderson —have also moved to the middle.

Roberson is now advocating no cuts to education after talking like a hard-liner in past years. Roberson, plus Reno GOP Sens. Greg Brower and Ben Kieckhefer (another who ran as a tough conservative in 2010) are marching in lockstep with Sandoval, too..

“There is really no denying Sandoval’s popularity and I think other Republicans are trying to ride his coattails,” [NPRI's Geoffrey] Lawrence [oh so woefully had to admit]. “And as a result, they are afraid to go against him on any policy measure.”

Or in other words, what we found 9 months ago still stands. Sandoval and his Republican #NVLeg confidants are embracing just enough taxes to look "moderate" and "reasonable". But in allowing for a little this, a little that, and a whole lot of the same regressive status quo, they're hoping to quash any chances of real, comprehensive, progressive tax reform that may offend too many in "the gaming-mining-lobbying industrial complex".

So this is the box that progressive activists want to pull legislators out of. Are there enough people in Carson City who can think big enough to notice the solutions available outside the box? Or will we have to endure more of the same nonsensical status quo?

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