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GOP’s Kirner Tinkles on Our Toes, Hands Us Umbrellas

AB46 doesn’t raise taxes.

It’s worse. Far worse.

It essentially “enables” the Washoe County school district to seek a tax hike…without a 2/3 vote of the Legislature OR a vote of the people. As conservative Republican State Sen. Don Gustavson explains…

“Years ago, Nevadans favored a constitutional change that restricted tax-happy legislators from raising your taxes without the approval of a two-thirds majority. Under AB46, the spirit of that constitutional mandate becomes moot.”

And as conservatives have warned, if they can pull this off is Washoe County, the dirty little tax-hiking trick will soon visit all of Nevada’s other counties. And that’s what makes it so bad.

Make no mistake; this is an effort to raise taxes, plain and simple. So any legislator who signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and thought voting for the bill wasn’t a Pledge violation because it didn’t raise taxes directly is wrong.

The good news is that 8 Republicans in the Assembly voted against this effort to increase taxes, including all four of the Tax Pledge signers: Michele Fiore, Jim Wheeler, Pete Livermore and John Hambrick.

Joining their Pledge-signing colleagues in voting against this horrible tax-hiking bill were Wes Duncan, John Ellison, Ira Hansen and James Oscarson.

The bad Republicans who voted in favor of this unconscionable end-run around the Gibbons Tax Restraint Initiative, as well as the people themselves, were: Minority Leader Pat Hickey, Assistant Minority Leader Cresent Hardy, Tom Grady (naturally), Lynn Stewart (of course), Melissa Woodbury (no surprise)…and Randy Kirner.

Assemblyman Paul Anderson was excused.

Before moving on to rip Kirner yet another new one, allow me to fire up my broken record to point out that NONE of the Pledge signers voted for this effort to raise taxes, and none of those who DID vote for the tax hike effort were Pledge signers.

Now back to Kirner…

Recall that 10 days ago Kirner bone-headedly led a majority of his GOP colleagues into killing the single most important education reform bill of the entire session – a “parent trigger” bill that had already passed out of the Senate 21-0 and most assuredly would have been signed by The Artful Dodger, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R&R-Partners).

Kirner has been a leader in this effort to circumvent the Gibbons Tax Restraint Law and apparently got an earful from Republican grassroots activists who, you know, thought Republicans should, you know, follow the Republican Party platform and, you know, vote against tax hikes.

In response, Kirner sent out a canned email response last week that whined about some of the messages he received being “rather accusatory and pernicious.”

Yeah, I didn’t know what pernicious meant either. Had to look it up (“Having a harmful effect, esp. in a gradual or subtle way”). But that’s the way some folks talk when trying to impress others about how much smarter they are than you.

Kirner went on to complain about an email blast to conservative activists sent out last week by Americans for Prosperity calling attention to this tax hike bill.

“The Legislature is debating a bill that skirts the Nevada Constitution’s 2/3rds tax requirement – a requirement designed to PROTECT Nevada taxpayers against the overreaches of power-hungry legislators’ intent on funneling taxpayer dollars into wasteful public spending,” AFP warned. “In Nevada, tax increases require a 2/3 majority vote in the Nevada Legislature to pass – a rule that safeguards taxpayer dollars.”

Not a 2/3 vote of the county commission, mind you. Of the Legislature.

You see, Nevada operates under what is called the “Dillon Rule,” which means legislators make tax hiking decisions for the local governments. It’s a bad form of government – government is best closest to the people – but it is what it is. So AB46 not only was an end-run around the Gibbons Tax Restraint Initiative, but an end-run around the Dillon Rule.

If you want to get rid of the Dillon Rule – and we should – and give local municipalities “home rule,” then do it. Don’t try to get cute and circumvent the existing rules.

But back to Kirner’s email…

“The Americans for Prosperity email was simply false and distorted the facts,” Kirner complained. “I don’t believe we have acted to pervert the 2/3rds vote on new taxes as required by law.”

But of course, the AFP email was accurate and yes, Kirner and associates were trying to pervert the clear meaning and understanding of current laws at it relates to both tax hikes and the Dillon Rule.

“The bill was a very complex bill and the process here is knotty as well,” Kirner continued to kvetch.

And thank goodness we have someone so much smarter than we, the little people, watching our backs, and explaining this “very complex bill,” right?

“I did not vote to raise taxes,” Kirner dissembled. “I have not ignored the 2012 Nevada Republican Platform. I am not encouraging an ‘end-run.’ Our party is about many things and has many constituencies. My duty is to represent the people of my district, all of them.”

Look, despite Kirner’s claims to the contrary, this bill wasn’t complex. Not by a long shot. It was an effort to raise taxes to dump more money into school construction projects – using over-priced union labor – that had already been rejected by the people.

No, he didn’t vote to raise taxes. He voted to let others do his dirty work for him since he knew that (a) the people didn’t want this tax hike, and (b) he couldn’t get it passed in the Legislature because of the Gibbons Tax Restraint Initiative.

No, he didn’t ignore the 2012 Nevada Republican Platform. He BROKE it.

And yes, it absolutely was an “end run” around the people, the Gibbons Tax Restraint Law and the Dillon Rule.

And yes, the GOP may be about many things, but tax hikes aren’t one of them. You could look it up. In the party platform. It’s right there in black and white.

And finally, there are indeed many constituencies in the Republican Party, but Kirner did not run on a platform of “Elect me and I’ll vote to raise your taxes.” As such, he has absolutely no mandate to do so and his support for AB46 is actually a complete misrepresentation of the very people who sent him to Carson City.

The majority of Kirner’s constituents are Republican voters who sure as hell didn’t vote for him on the promise that he’d raise their taxes. If he wants to represent the minority of constituents who want their taxes raised then he should do one of two things…

1.) Run on a campaign promise to raise taxes and see how that works out for him, or…

2.) Change parties and run as a tax-hiking Democrat and see how that works out for him.

Otherwise, don’t barf up this political pabulum that you’re not doing what we can all plainly see that you’re doing.

As the old saying goes, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

Randy Kirner is a nice man. But he’s a bad Republican and an even worse conservative. In a Republican-majority district. Something tells me he’s going to make my end-of-session “Primary My Legislator” list.