Sunday, January 6, 2013

Just Say "The T Word" Already.

Over the weekend, there's been plenty of discussion around the revelation that Nevada gave $600,000 of taxpayer funded "economic development aid" to Take-Two Interactive, the company behind "Grand Theft Auto". Legislators have been quick to jump and defend this decision. Sure, "Grand Theft Auto" may be extraordinarily violent, but who is the State of Nevada to make any kind of "moral values" based decision on where to invest economic development funds and which companies to beg & bribe ask to relocate here?

Funny enough, quite a few lawmakers have come out of the woodwork to share their $0.02 on throwing more money to beg & bribe another company to move here. Yet when it comes to raising the revenue needed to actually provide for the basic needs for all the rest of the Nevadans who can't afford high priced lobbyists, there's silence.

“My bottom-line goal on the revenue portion is to have a full discussion about it,” said Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas.

“There’s not an easy answer,” said Assembly Speaker-elect Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas. “There’s not a yes-or-no answer to that question.”

“I can’t answer that,” said Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, the incoming chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee. “I think we need to have a tax discussion. I think there’s common agreement we need to look at our tax structure.” [...]

“There’s no leadership of an effort to raise taxes this session,” said Mike Sloan, a gaming lobbyist and veteran of the 2003 tax fight with late former Gov. Kenny Guinn. “I do think there’s a recognition that we have unmet needs.”

But the left wing of the Democratic coalition is frustrated.

“They’re saying, ‘Why fall on our swords if it won’t go anywhere anyway?’” said Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “The problem with that is you don’t move the ball further ahead. We have these dysfunctional discussions.”

This is the problem. Neither generous corporate welfare nor inadequate support for our public infrastructure is questioned enough. And when the issue of "The T Word" arises (yet again), all too often we hear deafening silence from most quarters.

Something must change. Lost amidst the discussion about the $600,000 taxpayer funded check to Take-Two Interactive is the fact that Take-Two was actually able to find help from the state. Yet when it comes to allowing working poor families to access the health care they need, some politicians are still talking about how difficult to make that. And while extending taxes and fees that hit the working poor, the middle class, and small businesses the most may no longer seem quite so "controversial", far too many in Carson City are afraid to take on the kind of tax reform that's necessary to properly fund state government by making the wealthiest individuals & corporations pay their fair share.

Something must change. We simply can't afford for "The T Word" to be "taboo" any more. And we can't afford this constant double standard when it comes to funding & providing public services. And yes, now is the time to start talking about it.

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