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Welcome to Taxapalooza ’09

“Legislative Democrats are looking at a revenue-raising plan that spreads the pain across most of the state’s major tax sources,” reported Geoff Dornan, veteran capital reporter for the Nevada Appeal over the weekend, confirming rumors we reported here in News and Views a week ago.

“The idea is to increase taxes proportionally so that each revenue source continues to provide about the same percentage of total collections, deflecting criticism that one industry or sector is taking a bigger impact than any other.”

In other words, Democrats are indeed laying track for the Mother of All Tax Hikes this year. Remember, the Progressive Liberal Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) has already called for a billion dollars in new and/or higher taxes this year. And with the 3 percent room tax increase all but a done deal, the Democrats – and their rubber-stamp Republican enablers – are already about a third of the way there.

Naïve voters, three naïve Strip gaming companies, and naïve Republican legislators wrongly thought that if they’d just feed the alligators a tax hike on tourists, the alligators would leave them alone. Not a chance. As we’ll soon see, the alligators simply left them for later, opting to feast on the low-hanging fruit first.

Under the Democrats’ rumored secret plan, the sales tax would be raised, the gaming tax would be raised, the business tax on hiring employees would be raised, the tax on insurance policies would be raised, the real estate transfer tax would be raised and the tax on tobacco products would be raised. And maybe even the tax on beer, wine and my old friend, Mr. Jack Daniels!

According to Dornan, Democrat leaders have already “asked staff to prepare an analysis” showing how much additional revenue would be brought in from each separate tax hike. But they are being “tight-lipped about what (their plan) will include to keep opponents from building a case against it.”

While no one has any idea what the Republican agenda is this session – since, well, they don’t have one – Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry knows exactly what he’s doing by secretly crafting this tax-hike proposal. “What I’m hoping,” Arberry told Dornan, “is we’re going to do the best we can to keep as much of the budget whole as we can.”

And this is exactly where the Gibbons administration has blown this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually shrink government.

By arguing that his budget cut proposals were due to the revenue shortfall instead of arguing that many services, programs and departments should be scaled back or eliminated because they were wasteful, redundant, or not a legitimate function of the government in the first place, Gov. Gibbons has no moral high ground to fall back on when Democrats try to save those programs through higher taxation.

Especially since he’s already broken his Tax Pledge.

And by the way, exactly what do you think will happen to the windfall of tax revenue that’ll be coming in due to the Democrats’ tax increases once the recession is over? Does anyone actually think any of these tax hikes will be “temporary”?

So again, Gov. Gibbons should have been arguing – as he did back in 2003 when he criticized then-Gov. Kenny Guinn’s proposed tax hike – that he was cutting various government programs and services because that’s what needs to be done, whether the economy was doing well or poorly. By hiding behind shrinking revenues due to the recession, he will lose the argument – and all of us are likely to be stuck with even bigger government and higher taxes, to boot.

Hell, we coulda gotten THAT from Dina Tax-us!