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Depends on Your Definition of “Essential”

“Of course, providing adequate services takes money and that money must come from taxation,” Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio (R-Reno) writes in a March 3 email to a constituent.  “In my view, Nevada cannot drastically cut taxes and still remain economically competitive, particularly in these difficult times when public revenues may not even be adequate to maintain current programs. Let me be perfectly clear.  Raising taxes is an option, if necessary, to provide essential services but for me it is the last option.”

This is such a typical politician statement.

The debate here isn’t over the necessity of using tax money to pay for “essential services.” The debate is over the meaning of “essential services.” Is the Nevada Arts Council an “essential service” requiring taxpayer funding. Sen. Raggio believes yes. I say no. How about the Civil Rights Commission? The Consumer Affairs Division? The “Culture of Pizza” and “History of the Beatles” courses at UNLV?

And of course we can cut taxes and remain economically competitive. Our state’s low level of taxation, including the absence of a state income tax, is one of the prime reasons so many people and businesses have fled their home states and moved to Nevada. I mean, come on. Nevada has led the nation in population growth for the better part of a decade. And we’re STILL growing. If you want to retard Nevada economically, raise taxes and fees to levels similar to other states.

It doesn’t take an Economics degree to understand this, just common sense.

Sen. Raggio also wants to “maintain current programs” and says in order to do so “raising taxes is an option.” He says its “the last option,” but I see no evidence of that. I’ve not heard Sen. Raggio propose cutting a single government program, department or agency. Not even UNLV’s Office of Student Diversity Programs and Services.

Sen. Raggio appears to like the size and scope of government just the way it is, thank you very much – at least until the revenue is there to grow it again. So I just don’t believe tax hikes are the “last option” for the moderate Republican Minority Leader. In fact, I’m betting Sen. Raggio votes for the room tax hike when it moves its way over to the Senate this week or next – before a single budget vote is cast.

Any takers?