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Conservative Senator Sipping Tax Hike Kool-Aid

Word on the street is that it’s not moderate Republican senators who are pushing aggressively for tax hikes in legislative negotiations right now, but a conservative Republican state senator who has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and works for a construction association when not in session.

State Sen. Warren Hardy (R-Las Vegas).

Hardy is reportedly a member of the so-called “Core Group” of legislators who have been secretly meeting behind closed doors – a violation of at least the spirit of our open meeting law – to develop a tax hike package to balance the budget rather than eliminate the Nevada Arts Council and the Diversity and Inclusion office at UNLV. Hardy was quoted this week as conceding the tax hike issue to the Democrats by declaring, “I understand we need more revenue….”

No, we don’t.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has now introduced an amended budget proposal which balances the budget without any additional tax hikes beyond the mamma-jamma room tax hike he proposed last January – presently estimated to be worth well more than $200 million – along with a 25 percent marriage tax hike recently passed by the Legislature which the governor’s spokesman has, regretfully, said he will sign.

In addition, the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) recently released a “Freedom Budget” alternative which funds truly essential government services with no tax hikes whatsoever and without taking a dime of strings-attached federal stimulus money.

Nevertheless, Carson City insiders are saying that Hardy has sipping the Kool-Aid and aggressively participating in those smoke-free back room negotiations to hit Nevadans with yet another huge tax hike before this session is over. But there’s still time for Sen. Hardy to redeem himself and not jump off the tax hike cliff.

At a recent meeting with members of the Keystone Corporation – a group of real business leaders, not the “useful idiots” often trotted out by Democrats who claim that Nevada’s businsesses can’t wait to have their taxes raised – those in attendance have reported that Sen. Hardy challenged them to show him spending cuts instead of tax hikes and promised to be the champion of those spending cuts instead of tax hikes if they would do so.

Apparently Sen. Hardy missed a couple of rather important memos.

Again, the governor’s revised budget and NPRI’s “Freedom Budget” have no tax hikes included and rely primarily on cuts to non-essential government services. Someone needs to get copies of these budget proposals to the good senator and then we’ll see if he becomes the champion of fiscal responsibility without massive new tax hikes in the middle of a recession – or if he was just giving the Keystone folks political lip service.

I put the odds at no better than 50-50.