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The Big Con

Democrats, aided and abetted by the GOP’s legislative leadership, are setting up Nevada’s citizens for yet another monster of a tax hike before this session is scheduled to end on June 1st. Only time will tell if it’ll be the Mother of All Tax Hikes.

The strategy has been clear from Day One: Complain about Gov. Gibbons proposed budget, highlight in committee hearings and press interviews a bunch of whining and complaining by government bureaucrats and other taxpayers leeches about spending cuts, then declare that there’s no choice but to raise taxes in order to fund “essential” services.

I would LOVE for a mainstream newspaper or blogger to interview all 63 state legislators and ask them to define exactly what the term “essential” means.

Now here’s how the con game has been played so far.

The governor submitted a balanced budget in January which included some pretty healthy and much-needed spending cuts. If Nevadans have to tighten their belts, so should government.

But ever since that time, legislators have been adding stuff back into the governor’s budget without taking other stuff out. In other words, the budget as it sits in the Legislature this very minute is no longer balanced. It’s much higher than the balanced budget the governor proposed in January.

And once the Economic Forum releases its revenue projects this week, the budget will be even MORE out of balance….unless, of course, the economy dramatically turns around in the next few days and the Economic Forum projects that there will be enough money to fund everything legislators have added back in.

Fat…chance.

At the end of last week, we finally got a list of the “add backs” which apparently Democrat and Republican leaders have agreed to SO FAR. From Anjeanette Damon’s “Inside Nevada Politics” blog:

“Earlier this month, legislative leaders refused to release a list of budget add backs they had agreed on, saying a consensus hadn’t yet been reached on how much funding to restore to Gov. Jim Gibbons’ budget. And while lawmakers have yet to agree on the largest add backs– salary cuts, higher education, retirement benefits– they handed out their list of already agreed upon add backs to business leaders at today’s closed-door meeting. The total so far: $62.1 million with another $13.6 million on the priority list.”

So legislative leaders have already agreed to pass a budget which is AT LEAST $62.1 million higher than the balanced budget submitted by Gov. Gibbons – and they’re STILL NOT FINISHED adding other stuff back in – and that doesn’t even include the likelihood that the Economic Forum is going to project even less revenue coming in for the next biennium than what the governor projected in January.

So once the Economic Forum’s numbers come out on May 1st, legislative leaders are going to claim we HAVE NO CHOICE but to raise taxes in order to comply with Nevada’s constitutional requirement to have a balanced budget – without, you know, telling people that the main reason the budget is no longer balanced is because they added stuff back in to the governor’s originally balanced budget without offsetting the additional expense with budget cuts elsewhere. Details, details.

In the private sector a con game such as this would be illegal. In politics, it’s simply business as usual. Either way, the rubes get screwed. Time to stock up on Vaseline.