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Defending Danny Thompson & the AFL-CIO (sort of)

In Nevada’s legislative upper house, de facto Republican Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson issued a strange statement on Tuesday slamming the ballot initiative process.

In his press release, Roberson said “ballot initiatives which seek to raise taxes destabilize the state’s budget process and could transform Nevada into another California, where the initiative process has damaged the Legislature’s ability to control spending and enact sensible tax policy.”

Um, not exactly.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m opposed to raising taxes. But to suggest that a tax hike instituted by the citizens on themselves through the initiative process “destabilizes” the budget process is just silly.

I mean, to buy that you have to believe that if the citizens of Nevada raised taxes on themselves by, say, $500 million, that this would cause problems for government bureaucrats and legislators who would have to try to figure out how to spend all the extra the money? Puh-lease. Spending our money is what these people DO!

And truth be told, it’s only because of the initiative process that spending in California isn’t even MORE out of control. Thanks to Prop 13 and the 2/3 super-majority requirement for tax hikes – imposed on the government by the citizen initiative process – our neighbor to the West has been forced to cut spending rather than jack up taxes into the stratosphere during this seemingly never-ending Obama-Berkley recession.

In any event – and surely not coincidentally – shortly after Roberson’s press release came the announcement that conservative business leader Monte Miller had decided to drop his initiatives to raise taxes on the gaming and mining industries.

That now leaves Danny Thompson and the AFL-CIO with the only tax-hiking initiative potentially on the horizon for this election cycle. Which clearly led Roberson to say:

“Rather than relying on ballot initiatives to replace the hard, but necessary work of legislating, I call on my fellow legislators to join me in discussing and debating tax and spending policy now and throughout the next legislative session.”

Um, except the problem isn’t that legislators don’t “discuss and debate” tax and spending policies in Carson City every other year.

The problem is that no matter how high you raise taxes, it’s never enough to satisfy the Left. And no matter how high the tax hikes are, too many GOP legislators will go along with it…as long as it’s not quite as high as what the Democrats proposed.

Remember the “Mean 15” in 2003? That was the 15 Republicans in the state Assembly who refused to go along with an $860 million tax hike proposal. However, a number of them would have been perfectly content to vote for a $720 million tax hike proposal. Yes, capitulating…er, um, legislating is hard work indeed.

Roberson added that he opposes “any form of a job-killing income tax on Nevada businesses and will work to enact tax and spending policies that help grow our economy.”

You know, it’s half-truth, BS statements such as this that really get under my skin and give politicians such a well-deserved bad reputation.

Is Roberson opposed to a “job-killing INCOME tax” on Nevada businesses? We’ll concede that point for argument’s sake.

But what Roberson didn’t say was that he has flip-flopped on the job-killing PAYROLL tax hike that was supposed to expire last June but was re-imposed by the Legislature after Gov. Brian Sandoval broke his word to the citizens of Nevada.

Indeed, last year Sen. Roberson voted against re-imposing those “sunsets.” But that was then; this is now.

And now Sen. Roberson is apparently willing to sell out the tax-hike issue and go along to get along with the governor and other special interests in exchange for promised campaign cash that might catapult him from minority leader to majority leader next session.

Seriously, folks. Please explain to me how assessing a tax penalty on businesses for every employee they hire helps create jobs and grow our economy. It’s absurd on its face.

But let’s get back to Danny Thompson and the coming AFL-CIO ballot initiative to raise taxes.

As I’ve said, I’m opposed. To the tax hike, not the process Danny is following. Indeed, ballot initiatives are vintage exercises in government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Yes, we elect legislators in our republican form of government to handle most of the legislative process. However, the people, in their wisdom, recognized that sometimes, for various reasons, usually political, elected legislators just can’t, won’t or don’t get the job done.

At that point, the citizens have rightfully reserved the right to take the law into their own hands…literally.

Again, I think Danny’s wrong on the issue itself. Personally, I believe the state already spends too much money and that taxes should be lower, not higher. But that’s immaterial for this discussion.

The point is, if Danny can go out and collect enough signatures from the voting citizens of Nevada, he will have demonstrated that there is at least some interest in the issue by, you know, the actual citizens of the state.

And if Danny collects enough signatures to qualify his initiative by November, it will then go before the Legislature next year where our elected representatives will have the opportunity to debate, discuss and vote on the proposal.

And if the elected representatives decide not to approve it, then it will go directly to the people for an up-of-down vote.

And if a majority of THE PEOPLE approve it…well, so let it be written; so let it be done.

In conclusion, let me repeat: Philosophically, I believe Danny Thompson’s proposal to raise taxes is wrong; however, he’s going about it in exactly the right way. Just as the teachers union did with their misguided, anti-tourist room tax hike in 2009.

So while I’ll continue to fight Danny’s proposal tooth-and-nail, I’ll equally defend his rightful use of the initiative process. Soldier on, Citizen Thompson.