Monday, April 29, 2013

All That Truly Matters

Over the course of this month, we've seen even more tossing & turning in Carson City over matters of tax reform. Some proposals have died gruesome deaths up there, while others received a sudden and unexpected burst of new life. So far this session, we've seen plenty of fascinating twists & turns.

And now, another one is coming... Or maybe not. We just know Senate Democrats will be releasing their own tax reform plan later this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis says Democrats are putting the final touches on their plan to tweak Nevada’s tax structure to bring in more money for education and other services.

But the Las Vegas lawmaker says they will await final revenues projections due Wednesday from the Economic Forum before introducing their plan in bill form.

The Economic Forum is an independent panel charged with forecasting Nevada revenues for the next two years.

Democrats also have not closed in on how much additional revenue they want to generate. Among things being considered are revamping the state’s live entertainment tax.

Well, at least we can say the Senate Democrats are moving away from Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick's (D-North Las Vegas) revenue-neutral sales tax clusterfuck proposal. I guess that's a start. So what's actually in their plan? We'll have to wait & see, but I wouldn't suggest getting your hopes too high (for this).

And you know what? It's OK. Regardless of what Democratic leaders settle for in Carson City this session, We the People will ultimately decide next year. And that's what has some Republicans in Carson City nervous.

So far, The Education Initiative (IP 1) has strong support among voters despite the "Tea Party, Inc." smear campaign against this initiative aimed at making the largest corporations doing business in Nevada pay something closer to their fair share. (They currently pay a rate just barely above nothing.) Perhaps this is why Senator Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) decided that the best way to beat IP 1 is to join it on the ballot box. At first, it seemed like Roberson hatched up the perfect strategy to triangulate Nevada Republicans into the political sweet spot while tearing Democrats & progressives apart. There's just been one problem with his plan: his fellow Nevada Republicans!

Oh, and there's another problem with this: the law! Despite the constant spin from certain Republican Senators and their media pundit cheerleaders, the fact remains that Governor Brian Sandoval (R), Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), and several more lawyers who have studied this issue have all determined that Senator Roberson's IP 1 mining tax alternative is unconstitutional. They really can't blame Democrats or their fellow Republicans if/when the courts strike down any further attempts to pursue this.

Yet despite the political and legal controversies surrounding Senator Roberson's IP 1 mining tax alternative, SJR 15 remains. And there are no political hijinks here. It just removes mining industry bailouts from the Nevada Constitution. And all legislators have to do is approve it a second time this year so We the People can vote on it next year. And once voters approve SJR 15 next year, the Legislature will finally have the power to change mining tax rates.

Really, that's all the Legislature needs to do this spring to make real change possible. The Senate has already passed SJR 15 overwhelmingly this session. Now, it's the Assembly's turn.

There will be plenty of gossip in the next few weeks over supposedly grand tax reform plans. But really, it all comes down to just two initiatives. One is already guaranteed a spot on next year's (general election) ballot, while the other just needs one more vote of approval from the Assembly. And regardless of what certain media pundits hyperventilate about any further political positioning in Carson City this year, all that truly matters now is what We the People will be voting on next year.

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