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SB119 “Robo-Tax” should be conservatives’ line in the sand

ax the taxThe GOP establishment is threatening some conservative legislators in the Assembly, while promising the moon to others in an effort to pass a property tax giga-hike (SB119) worth BILLIONS of dollars to school districts.

Believe me, a full-court press is on and the pressure is INTENSE.  This is serious “gut check” time.

The so-called “bond rollover” would take voter-approved 10-year property tax hikes that are scheduled to expire and extend them automatically for an additional 10 years without a new vote of the people.

Why do they want to automatically extend the tax hikes without voter approval?  Because in recent years voters have been voting down new property tax hikes for schools, that’s why.

So rather than listen to taxpayers who have spoken very loudly and very clearly that they do not support these tax hikes, liberal Republican legislators – who clearly know what’s best for us, right? – are attempting to do an end run around us with this Robo-Tax scheme.

In the immortal words of legendary film critic Jay Sherman, “It stinks!”

As this bill is clearly an effort to increase taxes – yes, if a tax has an expiration date and you vote to renew it, you are raising taxes (see, “sunsets”) – a vote for SB119 would be a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and I certainly hope all Pledge signers will honor their word to their constituents.

And if they do, SB119, as passed in the state Senate, will suffer a well-deserved death.  Here’s why…

Liberal Republican Senate Majority Leader Moderate Mike Roberson got cute.  He decided to add an exemption to the state’s prevailing wage law for school construction projects in this Robo-Tax bill.  Killing prevailing wage is a deal-breaker for Democrats and a poison pill they’ll never swallow.

Didn’t matter in the Senate, since tax fiend Roberson was able to hold together all of his GOP colleagues to pass it, 11-9.  But the situation is quite different in the Assembly.

You can expect all 17 Democrats to vote to kill the bill, which means if just five conservative Republicans vote with the Democrats to kill the Robo-Tax, it dies.

There are nine Tax Pledge signers in the Assembly.  All they need to do is honor their written word to their constituents – promising to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes” – and the Robo-Tax is dead.

SB119 will be the first test to see which Republicans just talked the talk about being a champion of the taxpayer during last year’s campaigns and which ones will actually walk the walk.

Unfortunately, I fear taxpayers are going to end up awfully disappointed in a number of Republicans we thought we could depend on.

I hope I’m wrong.

P.S.  The argument that we have a “critical” need to build more new schools because of overcrowding is bull.

What we need is to offer vouchers to parents of children who find themselves in overcrowded schools if they’ll take their kid out of the public school and put him or her in the private school of their choice.

That’s the conservative alternative that, for some reason, no Republican is proposing.  For the life of me, I don’t understand why.

It immediately would alleviate the overcrowding problem without socking it to taxpayers with a robo-tax hike of billions of dollars to build unnecessary new schools.

It also would be a small step in the direction of breaking up the monopoly the government currently has on public education in our state.

Isn’t THIS why we worked so hard to elect a Republican majority in the first place?

And isn’t SB119 the exact same kind of deal-making and horse-trading that conservatives have been complaining about in Congress for all these years?

If conservatives cave now on SB119; if they go-along-to-get-along because they’ve been threatened or “bribed,” it will set the stage for an even bigger, total capitulation on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Billion Dollar Tax Hike later this session.

SB119 is where conservative legislators need to make their first stand.

It’s where they need to draw their line in the sand.

We’ll be watching.