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The Chicken Little Chancellor who Cried Wolf

(Chuck Muth) – Dan Klaich – the Nevada university chancellor who, in what meets the classic definition of a “gaffe;” that being when a politician tells the truth – recently said “I think we have been guilty of hyperbole in the past where, you know, we get the first dollar of a cut and we would like you to believe that the sky is falling.”

That same Dan Klaich took his act on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face program this week wondering why more people in the public aren’t up in arms over spending cuts to his taxpayer-subsidized higher ed system.

Duh. Could it be all those many years of Chicken Little hyperbole? Actually, it’s probably more like the boy who falsely cried wolf so often that when a real wolf showed up, nobody believed him.

Which is not to say I think there’s a real wolf at NSHE’s door today; I don’t. I’m simply suggesting that the incessant woe-is-me whining and kvetching for so many years, especially during the Jim Rogers reign of hyperbolic terror, has probably worn out its welcome with beleaguered taxpayers.

But that’s not why I’m writing about Mr. Klaich today. Instead I want to focus on a little smart-ass comment he made about small businesses in Nevada on that same Face to Face program. Jon asked Klaich if he thought a proposal to give businesses tax breaks for investing in higher ed projects was a good idea. Here’s Mr. Klaich smarmy answer:

“Well, I think it’s a great idea. I mean, when I first saw that, uh, there was, uh, invest in higher education and you get an abatement of your taxes, my first thought is, what taxes do we have that could be abated?” (My emphasis)

Get it? Businesses aren’t paying their fair share. They’re under-taxed. Haven’t heard that one before.

But the reality is, despite Dan Klaich’s sarcastic shot at the state’s various businesses and industries that employ hundreds of thousands of Nevadans in the private sector, there are quite a few taxes that could be abated here. So many, in fact, that it blows apart the ridiculous argument that Nevada’s tax base isn’t broad enough.

I ran the following list of taxes paid in Nevada a couple years ago, but in light of Mr. Klaich’s apparent ignorance of them, I guess it bears repeating. This is from my Nevada Appeal column back in May 2008:

(F)or those who might be inclined to buy into this argument that Nevada’s tax base isn’t broad enough, allow me to point out that while there might be 50 ways to leave your lover, there are over 80 ways the government currently sucks money out of Nevada’s economy via various taxes and fees, including the …

Business License Fee, Modified Business Tax, Modified Business Tax for Financial Institutions, Bank Branch Excise Tax, Incorporation Fees, Business Trusts, Limited Liability Company Fees, Limited Partnership Fees & LLLP Fees, Limited Liability Partnership Fees, Trademarks & Trade Names Fees, Uniform Commercial Code Fees, Video Service Provider Fees, Unemployment Insurance Tax, Drug Taxes, Controlled Substance Tax, Special Drug Manufacturing Tax, Excise Taxes, Cigarette & Other Tobacco Products Excise Tax, Intoxicating Liquor License & Tax, Fuel Taxes, State Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax and Aviation Fuel Tax.

Hold on. We’re just getting warmed up. There’s also the…

County Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax, County RTC Motor Vehicle Tax, Special Fuel Tax, Jet Fuel Tax, Gaming and Entertainment Taxes & Fees, City-County Gaming Tax, County Gaming Fees, Gross Gaming Revenue Fee, Pari-Mutual Wagering Tax, Race Wire License Fee, Slot License Fee Ð NonRestricted, Slot License Fee – Restricted, Slot Machine Excise Tax, Slot Route Operator & Distributor Fees, State Gaming License – Annual Fees, State Games License – Quarterly Fees, Internet Gaming Tax, Insurance Tax, Insurance Premium Tax, Lodging Tax, and State Transient Lodging Tax.

Whew! But we’re not finished yet. There’s also the…

Local Transient Lodging Tax, Mining Tax and Miscellaneous Mine Fees, Net Proceeds of Minerals & Patented Mines Tax, Oil & Gas Administrative Fee, Miscellaneous Taxes & Fees, Unarmed Combat Fees, Car Rental Government Services Tax, Livestock Tax, Live Entertainment Tax, Local Franchise Fee, Tax on Estates, Tire Tax, Nevada Transportation Authority Fees, Water Transfer Tax, Motor Vehicle Taxes, Motor Vehicle Registration Tax, Governmental Services Tax Ð Basic, Governmental Services Tax – Supplemental, Property Taxes, Real Property Tax (Ad Valorem), Personal Property Tax, and the Real Property Transfer Tax.

Take a breath. We’re almost there…

Public Utility Taxes, Public Utility Assessment Fee, Universal Energy Charge and Sales and Use Taxes. Combined Sales and Use Tax/State Sales and Use Tax (S.S.T.), Combined Sales and Use Tax/Local School Support Tax (LSST), Combined Sales and Use Tax/Basic City-County Relief Tax (BCCRT), Combined Sales and Use Tax/Supplemental City-County Relief Tax (SCCRT), and, of course, the County Optional Sales Tax.

Seems like a pretty broad tax base to me. How ’bout you?

So maybe instead of criticizing, belittling, deriding and berating the small business entrepreneurs responsible for hiring the taxpaying citizens of Nevada who fund his $302,782.57 worth of annual compensation (Source: Transparent Nevada, 2009), maybe he should suspend the hyperbole and get on his hands and knees and give ‘em a little of the ol’ “we’re not worthy treatment” instead.