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Tax Fight Turns Red Hot

Wow. I’m not even sure where to start with this column other than to say the fight over tax hikes this legislative session is already pretty heated. Witness the recent rant by Sen. Raggio against Assemblyman Goedhart (“Be a man”) and the Nevada GOP robo-calls into the districts of pro-tax hike Democrats. And thing are getting hotter as tempers get shorter by the day.

In fact, a tax fight hasn’t been this hot since the end of the 2003 session – at which point then-Gov. Kenny Guinn, the Raggio-controlled state Senate and the Nevada Supreme Court steamrolled the largest tax hike in the state’s history over the minority Republicans in the Assembly.

By the way, Gov. Guinn’s chief-of-staff at the time was Marybel Batjer. Here’s some very brief background on Ms. Batjer courtesy of a November 2003 story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal by Jane Ann Morrison:

“Relying on the recommendation of his political adviser, Sig Rogich, Guinn hired her (Batjer) in December 2000. The priority was to craft a budget for the 2001 Legislature, during which Guinn laid groundwork for tax increases by promising to pare state expenses. In 2003, she had the joyless job of advocating his $836 million tax increase.”

Bear with me. You’ll see why this is relevant in a bit.

And while I’m seemingly going to go off on some tangents here, trust me; I’ll square this circle.

Now recall that last year the teachers union pointed a political gun to the collective heads of the gaming industry, threatening to circulate a ballot initiative to raise the gaming game. Three major gaming companies caved, “pulled a Specter,” and cut a deal with the union extortionists to back a room tax increase instead.

One of those three gaming companies was: Harrah’s.

OK, this morning I woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…

No, wait a minute. That can’t be right. I don’t have any hair. Oh, yeah, that’s the Beatles song I woke up to. Never mind.

After fixing my first cup of coffee I started reading emails which had come in overnight. Then a little after 6:30 a.m I received a new one from “VoteLowerTaxes.”

Obviously intrigued, I opened it. In it was a message from an unnamed individual who was actually calling for tax CUTS in Nevada to “create the MOST competitive business and consumer environment in the world.”

Obviously, whoever this person is they “get it.” So I read on.

The author’s Tax Relief Act of 2009 proposal calls for completely eliminating the payroll tax, limiting property tax hikes for everyone to 2 percent, lowering the state sales tax to 6 percent, lowering the gaming tax to 6.5 percent and eliminating both the bank branch tax and the entertainment tax. In addition, the proposal opposes any new sales tax on services, any kind of business or corporate gross receipts tax, or a personal income tax of any kind.

For a minute there I thought someone had cloned me without my knowledge!

The email concluded with this: “You can help lead the way to economic recovery, Make Nevada Stronger, Right Now! Send a message to the Nevada Legislature at www.LowerNevadaTaxes.com.”

OK, in for a penny, in for a pound. So I go the website to see if I could figure out who was behind this brilliant political and public policy proposal. There I found a video of Todd Taxpayer…and yes, as it turns out that is his real name.

And on the website is a simple fill-in-the-blanks online form to send a message to the governor and state legislators calling for lower Nevada taxes. So I filled it out and included a message something along the lines of “We need tax roll-backs, not spending roll-ups.”

(Rollbacks, not rollups. Hey, I like that! Get the button machine out.)

I also hit “Reply” to the original email to let Todd Taxpayer know I thought he’d done a great job with the website and how easy he made it for folks who share his views on taxes to communicate those views to legislators.

Long story short: Todd wrote back…we exchanged a few emails…and are scheduled to have lunch together tomorrow. But that’s not the end of the story.

It seems a certain Marybel Batjer either found Todd’s website or received his email, too. And wait’ll you get a load of the email she sent back to him. Here it is, in its entirety. No edits whatsoever…

“I don’t know who you are but I do know you are a complete idiot! NV is the most under taxed state in the Union. Frankly I have no desire to be compared to Utah or MS. We have NO social infrastructure and our education system is bankrupt. Get a clue! You clearly have not spoken to any CA company who is looking to relocate to a ‘better environment’—they look beyond NV not bc/ of our tax base, but bc/ our higher education system can’t support their business w/ well educated workers—and, their ees don’t want to live in our wonderful state bc/ of our poor K-12 system, which they see as pitifully under funded! Where do those businesses go? To Oregon, AZ, TX, ID—all states w/ higher taxes then NV! Idiot!”

Oh, man. Is that something or what? Talk about coming unglued.

Now for the kicker.

Marybel is currently Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for…

Harrah’s.

Told you I’d square the circle! Are we having fun yet?