Monday, April 15, 2013

Sunrise, Sunset

This morning at the Nevada Legislature, a few Nevada Senators were asking a critical question. Why is the state continuing this silly kabuki theater that we now know as "The Sunset Taxes"? Why place an arbitrary expiration date on something that hardly any one actually wants to expire?

Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee are questioning why the state keeps extending taxes that are set to expire instead of just making them permanent.

The question was raised Monday as the panel considered SB475, a bill authorizing a continuance of taxes that should have expired two years ago.

Lawmakers in 2011 agreed to extend the sunset on those levies through June 30 of this year.

SB 475 is the bill addressing "The Sunset Taxes". But again, the bill only extends them for another two years. At the Senate Finance Committee hearing this morning, Ralston caught this telling moment of truth from Senator Debbie Smith (D-Sparks).

RalstonReports: Now @sendebbiesmith points out how loony it is to keep extending taxes set to expire. Yes, either repeal or make permanent. #nvleg

This isn't quite the revenue reality check I was hoping for, but at least it's now happening. Nevada needs revenue for a functioning state government. And right now, the current "Sunset" kabuki theater just isn't working.

Right now, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and his right-hand people are engaged in a semantics argument with the "tea party" over whether an extension of "The Sunset Taxes" really constitutes a "tax increase". Does it really matter? Again, why is Governor Sandoval even insisting on this arbitrary expiration date to them, especially when he's so afraid of touching anything else "T Word" related?

And that leads us to the bigger problem. Remember how we resulted in this in the first place? In 2009, the late Senator Bill Raggio (R-Reno) wanted "The Sunsets" so he'd have another convenient bargaining chip handy in 2011. Then when he was no longer in Carson City in 2011, Governor Sandoval rather conveniently brought them back when the Nevada Supreme Court forced his hand on the state budget.

Long story short: This is yet another fiscal gimmick. And really, can Nevada afford any more silly, nonsensical fiscal gimmickry? Think about that.

And think about what we discussed back in May 2011.

At some point, the kabuki theater must end. As Mr. Gleaner so eloquently explained this morning, most Nevadans don't give a rat's ass if Sandoval and most legislators grab hands and sing kumbaya over a pile of horse manure. The fact of the matter is that our schools are still grossly underfunded, the rest of our public infrastructure is still woefully inadequate, and our state still needs real long-term solutions for real, sustainable success.

Fast forward to 2013. We've seen bickering over pennies. And we've seen shouting over the definition of "rejection". Now, we just need some real action on revenue. And yes, that means we need another "T Word Reality Check" in Carson City.

If only we can see that continually "sunrise"...

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