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Gov’t Gets Gold, Biz Gets Shaft

There are three things businessmen need know about the 2009 session of the Legislature:

1.) Nevada’s business community – big and small – got the shaft.

2.) Many pro-business lobbyists and association representatives let it happen with barely a peep of opposition. Some actually participated in the tax-hike negotiations, trying to keep their own ox from being gored by throwing other businesses under the bus (see: Mining).

3.) Things are gonna be even worse in 2011.

The payroll tax was doubled for many businesses which hire too many people, as was the annual cost of obtaining and renewing a business license. Oh, and for those of you with multiple locations, you now have to obtain a separate government “permission slip” for each and every one of them.

The worst part?

Many of Carson City’s business lobbyists – some of whom are paid rather handsomely to watch our backs while we watch our businesses – sat back and watched it happen. Indeed, consider this first-hand report from a disgusted pro-business Carson City observer who witnessed the testimony of our supposed defenders once the Legislature’s anti-business tax plan was finally revealed:

“The story would not be complete if I didn’t relate the most revolting part. That was the parade of unctuous, ass-kissing business lobbyists who came to the testimony table to offer: 1) Thanks to the legislators for making such wrenching decisions. 2) Help and support over these next few difficult days as the poor dears put together the final package. 3) A hodge-podge of ridiculous utterances meant to demonstrate their empathy for the rat bastards.”

One industry lobbyist, when asked why he didn’t fight more aggressively against these anti-business tax hikes, replied, “Hey, I have a reputation to protect here.” So this longtime business lobbyist was more worried about what legislators and fellow lobbyists thought about him than in fighting vigorously for the interests of the businesses he was paid to represent!

In their defense, these professional schmoozers are now coming back to us, patting themselves on the back, and explaining that “it could have been worse.”

No. They only succeeded in putting off the day of reckoning. Which reminds me of a quote by Ronald Reagan: “If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.”

While it’s certainly true that the small business community dodged the corporate income tax bullet this session, you can bet the farm the crocodiles will be back again in 2011. As the Las Vegas Sun reported on May 19, 2009:

“Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford said Monday that he has given up on broadening the state’s tax structure this session by gaining approval for a corporate income tax, but he wants to enter the 2011 session fully armed to enact real tax reform.”

If the Nevada business community hopes to stop a truly brutal tax “re-structuring” in 2011, its “every-man-for-himself” lobbyists better “grow a pair” between now and then and embrace the wisdom about hanging together or risk hanging separately.