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Dis-Information on Tax Hike as High as a Kite

Republican Assemblyman Kelly Kite represents one of the most conservative/most Republican districts in the state, covering Douglas County, south of Carson City. Meaning you could be to the right of Attila the Hun and still be elected in District 39. Without a doubt, unlike some districts in Las Vegas, you do not have to be a mushy moderate squish to win in this district.

Any yet…that’s exactly what Assemblyman Kite is. He chalked up an anemic 60% conservative score in Citizen Outreach’s ratings for the 2011 Legislature and a 53% rating from NPRI.

Worse, not only did Kite refuse to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in his 2010 race, but he, unsurprisingly though disappointingly, ended up voting FOR the $620 million hike in the “temporary” taxes that were re-imposed on Nevada’s citizens and small businesses last July 1.

That’s simply indefensible for a supposed conservative in this overwhelmingly Republican district. And yet, Kite defends his vote…by being more than a little disingenuous about it. In justifying his support for this huge tax increase, here’s what Kite recently told the Record-Courier:

“First of all, 140,000 small businesses still have to report but no longer have to pay the minimum tax base on payroll.”

The Record-Courier notes that Kite was “referring to the compromise (Gov.) Sandoval and lawmakers worked out regarding the modified business tax. While the 2011 budget deal nearly doubled payroll taxes on large firms, it eliminated taxes for roughly 70 percent of businesses across the state.”

But…that’s a load of, er, flapdoodle.

Let’s hop into the Wayback Machine and check out a Las Vegas Sun story written by the intrepid David McGrath Schwartz on January 12, 2011…before Gov. Sandoval introduced his budget.

As part of the 2009 “temporary” tax hike deal engineered by then-Sen. Bill Raggio, the payroll tax was jacked up on large employers while being completely eliminated on small businesses.

So once the “temporary” tax deal expired, the small employers that had been exempted from the tax would have had it re-imposed on them – something the incoming Sandoval administration was apparently “unaware” of. However, once the administration did become aware of the loophole, it immediately closed it. From the Daily Sparks Tribune:

“Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval won’t allow payroll taxes to increase with the sunset of a tax package approved by lawmakers two years ago, the administration said Wednesday. Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert said the first-term Republican governor will adhere to his pledge not to raise taxes in the recession, even though it will widen the budget shortfall by $18 million.”

So two things to note here:

1) That loophole that might have resulted in a tax hike on small businesses was closed in January by the governor, LONG before he flip-flopped on re-imposing the sunsets in late May. So Kite’s claim that his vote for the tax hike was to protect 140,000 small businesses in hogwash. Those businesses WERE NEVER IN JEOPARDY once Sandoval learned of the situation in January.

2) Even if they were (they weren’t), according to the Sparks Tribune we’re talking about $18 million here. $18 million. Just $18 million. Kite voted to raise taxes by $600 MILLION! So to try to excuse his vote by hiding behind this small biz payroll tax excuse is inexcusable.

Hang on; there’s more.

Kite’s also trying to hide behind the last-minute Supreme Court decision that declared that Gov. Sandoval couldn’t use $62 million that was “raided” from a water district project in Clark County for the state budget. Here’s what Kite told the Record-Courier:

“We would have had to go into special session to balance the budget. The state constitution requires a balanced budget. It left us with only two weeks to come up with $160 million we didn’t have. There probably would have been more cuts to education, and more costs passed onto the counties.”

What a load of, um, flapdoodle.

First, the “hole” caused by the court decision was $62 million, not $160 million that Kite is now claiming.

Secondly, they wouldn’t have had to go into special session to balance the budget. All they had to do was go back to the governor’s original budget proposal which, as McGrath Schwartz noted, the governor “vowed” wouldn’t be “more than $5.3 billion” – about a billion dollars less than the budget proposal on the table with two weeks to go.

But thirdly, and this is the real kicker, Kite’s claim that they would have had “to come up with $160 million we didn’t have” is an outright falsehood.

On May 2, 2011 the same David McGrath Schwartz reported the following:

“Nevada’s budget crisis became a bit less severe Monday with word that the general fund will be enriched by a previously unplanned $274 million, a bit of a windfall…”

So again, the hole created by the court decision was only $62 million, not $160 million. But even if it WAS $160 million, the Legislature absolutely DID have the money to cover it thanks to the unexpected $274 million windfall surplus revenue the Economic Forum handed to them just days before the court decision came down.

Facts are very inconvenient things for politicians, aren’t they?

And finally, Kite’s third excuse for voting for the tax hike was that the budget deal “set in place several reforms popular among conservatives,” including some education reforms. But any good conservative worth his salt knows full well that those reforms were nothing more than table scraps.

Kite and his colleagues abandoned efforts to rein in out-of-control construction defect lawsuits – and no matter what reforms they passed in education, many of the children of poor and middle-class families who can’t afford private schools or to move to wealthy neighborhoods are still trapped in mediocre, under-performing public “failure factory” schools.

So the reality is, Kelly Kite sold his $620 million tax hike vote for a bag of magic beans.

A closing thought:

If voting to re-impose this $620 million tax hike was such a great conservative vote and what his constituents wanted, then why didn’t the state senator who represents the very same district, Sen. James Settelmeyer, vote for it? Is Assemblyman Kite saying Sen. Settelmeyer was wrong and isn’t a conservative?

Hmm, let’s see: Sen. Settelmeyer earned an 80% score from Citizen Outreach in its ratings, and an 88% score from NPRI. So it sure seems to me that if there’s a RINO in the Douglas County midst, it’s Kelly Kite, not James Settelmeyer.

What? You’d like to give Assemblyman Kite a piece of your mind while asking if he’s lost his? You want to know how to get in touch with him? Well, here…let me be Mr. Helpful. This is the contact information for him showing on the Legislature’s website.

Assemblyman Kelly Kite
(775) 450-6962
kkite@asm.state.nv.us

But be prepared to be spun like a Tasmanian devil!

P.S. In his Record-Courier interview, Kite said “One thing he won’t do is sign a no-tax pledge a year before the next legislative session.” And you know what that means if he gets re-elected!

Might want to mention to Assemblyman Kite that if he doesn’t take the Pledge, he doesn’t get your vote.