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July 16, 2019
16 Jul 2019

Political Update – July 16, 2019

VICTOR JOECKS: Letter from Nevada Democrats hints at quid pro quo

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal 

July13, 2019

Even by swampy congressional standards, a letter signed by three Nevada Democrats to a local casino company reeks of demanding quid pro quo.

In May, 13 congressional Democrats sent a letter to Frank Fertitta, chairman of Red Rock Resorts. The signers, including Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, urged Fertitta to “respect the rights of employees at Red Rock Resorts Inc. properties to form a union and collectively bargain.” That seems like little more than another poke in the eye from allies of the Culinary union.

But the letter took an unexpected turn. It started talking about tax policy.

In 2017, Republicans passed tax reform. In their haste — insert joke about “passing the bill to find out what’s in it” here — a drafting error changed the depreciation schedule for certain capital expenditures. Before the bill, companies could depreciate interior remodeling projects over 15 years. After the bill, businesses had to spread those expenses over 39 years.

The letter points out that Red Rock Resorts is seeking to revert that provision to its original form. The company is hardly alone. Hundreds of businesses — including Wendy’s, Best Buy and Target — have asked Congress to make the change. A bill to do just that has 169 co-sponsors. Titus, Lee and Horsford are among the 88 Democrat co-sponsors.

There’s not a policy link between the two issues, but there is a political link. The letter notes that Red Rock Resorts “is currently completing a $690 million renovation of the Palms Casino Hotel.” The drafting error in the new tax law is likely costing Red Rock Resorts tens of millions of dollars.

“We were disappointed, however, to learn that the company has refused to recognize the union at this facility, even after 84 percent of employees voted to form a union,” the letter reads.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“It’s fine for congressional Democrats to support the Culinary. What’s unacceptable is using their political power to threaten Red Rock Resorts for not acquiescing to union demands.”

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal 

Segerblom wants sales tax hike to fund schools

Ray Hagar
Nevada Newsmakers
Las Vegas Sun

July 14, 2019

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom said on “Nevada Newsmakers” that he is ready to start working to get more funding for the Clark County School District through a sales tax hike.

The Nevada Legislature recently gave county commissions the authority to implement a quarter-cent sales tax increase for education.

“I ran a campaign with the platform of ‘give me the authority for a 1-cent sales tax so we can give $400 million to the School District,’” he told host Sam Shad. The district faces a $17 million budget deficit entering the new school year.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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July 9, 2019
09 Jul 2019

Political Update – July 9, 2019

Will new Nevada law lead to state income tax?

Steve Wolford
News3LV

July 3, 2019

On June 13, Governor State Sisolak signed a bill giving state employees the right to collective bargaining, but the Nevada Policy Research Institute says it may have put Nevada taxpayers on a trajectory that will increase the cost of government for state employees who work for agencies like the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“The price tag associated with this is something that really worried us,” said NPRI Communications Director Michael Schaus. “simply because we’re already straining our budgets.”

Local union leaders disagree. Harry Schiffman, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 4041 says it’s too soon to even know because a deal hasn’t even been negotiated yet, and safeguards are built-in to the law to keep raises in check.

“Even if they all agree to a deal, it’s still the governor,” said Schiffman, “the governor still has a say whether he agrees, or he wants to veto it or to change it, and also, it has to go back to the legislature.”

That’s something the NPRI says could be difficult to do because of the intense political pressure unions can exert on politicians, and eventually, the growing cost of state government could hit critical mass.

“The big concern is, sooner or later the income tax is going to be an issue that is going to be talked about simply because lawmakers are going to run out of existing revenue sources to keep on increasing our tap,” said Schaus.

Shiffman, however, says if a state income tax goes on the table in Nevada, collective bargaining won’t be the reason.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“The big concern is, sooner or later the income tax is going to be an issue that is going to be talked about simply because lawmakers are going to run out of existing revenue sources to keep on increasing our tap.”

 Michael Schaus, Communications Director
Nevada Policy Research Institute

PUBLIC WORKER CONTRACTS SHOULD BE NEGOTIATED IN THE OPEN

Thomas Mitchell
Mesquite Local News

July 4, 2019

Despite being duly warned, Nevada’s Democratic lawmakers and Democratic governor this past legislative session lit the fuse on a huge budget bomb — passing and signing into law Senate Bill 135, which gives state public employees the right to collectively bargain for wages and benefits.

A study commissioned by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates this unionization could in two decades increase the cost of state public employees as much as $1.75 billion a year in inflation-adjusted dollars. The entire current general fund budget amounts to about $4 billion a year.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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July 2, 2019
02 Jul 2019

Political Update – July 2, 2019

EDITORIAL: Why government pension plans are failing and what to do about it

Las Vegas Review-Journal

June 29, 2019

The stock market continues to flirt with record highs, yet government-run pension plans are far from fully funded. That should concern every taxpayer.

The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada, which is officially only 75 percent funded, falls into that category. The funded ratio would be much lower if PERS were held to the same accounting standards that government regulators demand of private companies.

Starting on July 1, contribution rates are increasing to 29.25 percent for regular employees. That’s the fifth increase since 2009, when the rate was 20.5 percent. Government agencies (read: taxpayer) and employees split the contribution rate increase equally.

In a recent National Affairs article, Manhattan Institute senior fellow Josh McGee traces how government pension plans, such as PERS, have ended up in this precarious predicament.

The plans started small and promised modest benefits. For instance, PERS’ initial contribution rate in 1948 was 5 percent on the first $400 in salary. But rates didn’t stay that low in Nevada or around the country. Mr. McGee points out that employer pension costs grew from 9.6 percent to 16.9 percent of payroll from 1988 to 2017.

As workers grew older, the plans expanded by taking in new members. They also grew, because government hiring expanded rapidly. Unfortunately, governments didn’t fully fund the cost of their promises. Part of the reason was that plans unrealistically assumed they would earn investment returns of at least 8 percent annually. For instance, PERS assumed an 8 percent rate of return for decades, before lowering it to 7.5 percent last year.

An 8 percent rate of return wasn’t as risky during the 1980s, when interest rates were high. Pension plans could earn those returns primarily by investing in bonds. But as returns lagged, pension plans moved more money into stocks and hedge funds. Those are riskier, but offer higher returns. Currently, PERS’ target allocation is 72 percent of assets in stocks, real estate and private equity compared to just 28 percent in bonds. In 2003, PERS aimed for an even split between bonds and investments in stocks and real estate.

When the inevitable next downturn comes, it’s going to hit PERS harder than before, because the system has taken on greater risk.

“The upshot of this history is that public pensions are bigger and riskier than ever,” Mr. McGee writes. “Pension liabilities and debt have never been so large relative to taxpayers’ capacity to pay, and pension investments have never been so uncertain.”

All this should sound like alarm bells to an elected officials, starting with Gov. Steve Sisolak. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence he or most politicians — particularly Democrats — care to be bothered. They’re far more interested in currying favor with government unions, which shower them with campaign contributions in return for ignoring the issue and even expanding benefits. Or, in Nevada, for allowing PERS to keep confidential from taxpayers certain information regarding the pension payouts they are forced to fund.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“[Politicians — particularly Democrats are] far more interested in currying favor with government unions, which shower them with campaign contributions in return for ignoring the issue and even expanding benefits.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Free Market Watch:
There is Nothing ‘Progressive’ About Big Government

Nevada Business
Michael Schaus 

July 1, 2019

If progressive voters really want the kind of “bold” and “transformative” changes big-government politicians keep promising, they had better change their voting habits. Despite the lofty-sounding rhetoric, there’s nothing inherently progressive—new, innovative or revolutionary—about the policy proposals being touted by big-government proponents. In fact, far from effecting sweeping change, such policies largely serve to cement the status quo. For a prime example, look no further than the education debate that took place in Nevada’s last legislative session.

Far from fundamentally transforming the state’s educational status quo, progressives doubled down on the very policies that have been failing Nevada’s youth, even going so far as to decimate the one innovative alternative available to low income students: Opportunity Scholarships.

Far from embracing any bold innovation to the way we deliver education in Nevada, progressives actively worked to erode any educational reform or program that didn’t enrich the same government special-interests that have been running the show for decades. Public schools received more funding, scholarships for low-income students were kneecapped and, at one point, even public charter schools found themselves in the cross-hairs of “progressive” politicians. In other words, it was “more of the same” from the education establishment that has run public education into the ground—and it was hailed as a victory by “progressive” activists and lawmakers.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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June 25, 2019
25 Jun 2019

Political Update – June 25, 2019

Nevada Embraces Public Unions

Democrats let state employees collectively bargain. Watch out for a state income tax.

The Editorial Board
The Wall Street Journal

June 20, 2019

Nevada taxpayers had a good 54-year run, but this month their luck ran out. The state Legislature recently overrode a 1965 ban on collectively bargaining for state employees. Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed the bill, and watch now for a tax-and-spend ratchet to accelerate in one of the nine states without a tax on wage and salary income.

The legislation means the state’s 20,000 or so public employees can be represented by a union to negotiate wages, pensions and work rules. The law is a huge payoff for the unions that supported Mr. Sisolak and the Democratic legislative majorities that swept to power in November.

In effect the unions will now be on both sides of the negotiating table as they demand more money from the Governor they helped elect. Taxpayers won’t be represented because Mr. Sisolak will want to reward his union benefactors. This is why public unions differ from industrial unions that negotiate with a single private employer, and why Franklin Roosevelt opposed unions for public workers.

Nevada Democrats claim the law includes checks on wage and benefit increases. If Mr. Sisolak doesn’t like the result of negotiations, he can include “any amount of money that the Governor deems appropriate” in his proposed budget. A collective-bargaining agreement must also include a clause stipulating that “any provision” that “requires the Legislature to appropriate money is effective only to the extent of the legislative appropriation.”

But in practice this merely means that Democrats in the Legislature will have to be involved in the bargaining. And their incentive is to reward the unions too. Labor negotiations are exempt from the state’s open-meeting requirements, so the deal will emerge from the backrooms as a fait accompli.

This is the way it always works. Illinois and Connecticut are classic examples as public unions effectively run the state governments. In both states unfunded pension liabilities are more than 45% of the gross state product, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Illinois Democrats are now trying to kill the state’s constitutional flat income-tax rate, and Connecticut is raising taxes again, as taxpayers flee to lower-tax climes.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates that Nevada can expect to spend an additional $1.7 billion to $1.75 billion annually by 2036. That comes to $579 to $596 per resident a year. Mr. Sisolak won’t admit it, but in signing this bill he has started the clock ticking on the date that unions and Democrats lobby to impose a state income tax.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“In effect the unions will now be on both sides of the negotiating table as they demand more money from the Governor they helped elect. Taxpayers won’t be represented because Mr. Sisolak will want to reward his union benefactors.”

The Wall Street Journal

EDITORIAL:
Let Nevada taxpayers in
on collective bargaining talks

Las Vegas Review-Journal 

June 23, 2019

The legacy legislation that emerged from the 2019 session will be the bill allowing state workers to collectively bargain.

Long sought by Nevada’s public employee unions, the concept nevertheless languished for decades — even under previous Democratic governors, who feared the inevitable budget ramifications. But government lobbyists had their way in Carson City this year after labor helped Democrats gain large majorities in both legislative houses last November. On June 12, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Senate Bill 135, giving state workers the right to bargain for wages and benefits.

The bill includes a provision allowing the governor to ignore any deal for financial reasons. That’s a tacit admission that allowing collective bargaining for government workers is a recipe for fiscal disaster, laying the groundwork for ever-escalating compensation costs and spiraling budgets, crowding other spending. Just ask Illinois … or Connecticut … or New York … or any progressive jurisdiction. But even that limiting codicil will have minimal effect. Abiding by the results of any negotiation will become a litmus test that will determine the political fate of legislative Democrats and gubernatorial candidates. 

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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June 18, 2019
18 Jun 2019

Political Update – June 18, 2019

FILE SUIT TO UPHOLD TWO-THIRDS VOTE REQUIREMENT FOR TAXES

Thomas Mitchell
Mesquite Local News

June 13, 2019

So, the governor is confident that the extension of the modified business tax rate will withstand a legal challenge, according to both the Las Vegas newspaper and the online Nevada Independent.

“We’ve got legal opinion from LCB (Legislative Counsel Bureau) that, you know, a simple majority is what’s needed,” Gov. Steve Sisolak was quoted as saying this past week. “I’ve been in government for 20 some-odd years, and if you don’t trust your attorneys, you’ve got a problem. So I’m confident that the attorneys gave us a good opinion. We’ll move forward from there.”

Be prepared to move back, governor, by nearly $100 million in your budget for the next two years — the budget that promises 5 percent raises for teachers.

Republicans have promised a legal challenge if the business tax were extended without a two-thirds majority of both houses as prescribed by the Constitution. The tax extension passed the Senate on a party line vote of 13-8, one vote shy of two-thirds.

Voters in 1994 and 1996 amended the Nevada Constitution to state “an affirmative vote of not fewer than two-thirds of the members elected to each House is necessary to pass a bill or joint resolution which creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form, including but not limited to taxes, fees, assessments and rates, or changes in the computation bases for taxes, fees, assessments and rates.”

The modified business tax passed in 2015 by a two-thirds vote of lawmakers contained specific language saying the rates would be reduced in 2019 if tax revenues exceeded a certain level, which they have.

But the compliant LCB told the majority Democratic lawmakers and the Democratic governor, “It is the opinion of this office that Nevada’s two-thirds majority requirement does not apply to a bill which extends until a later date or revises or eliminates a future decrease in or future expiration of existing state taxes when that future decrease or expiration is not legally operative and binding yet, because such a bill does not change but maintains the existing computation bases currently in effect for the existing state taxes.”

The bill clearly “generates” revenue that two-thirds of the lawmakers in 2015 said would decrease as of July 1, 2019.

The state Constitution is not something to tamper with. Republicans should take it to court and make the Democrats abide by the rules, even if it means a special session would have to called. In fact, the GOP lawmakers should go directly to the state Supreme Court for an opinion that would be binding, unlike the LCB opinion “that future decrease or expiration is not legally operative and binding yet …”

Asked nearly the same question in 2011, 2013 and 2015, the LCB said a two-thirds vote was necessary. So, governor, when do you trust your attorneys? Now or then?

Republican lawmakers should join forces with those who will be paying the tax — Nevada businesses — and sue at the earliest possible convenience to defend the state Constitution. Randi Thompson, a lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business, has told the Las Vegas newspaper the organization is looking at the option of filing suit. Perhaps, the conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute can join the fray. The more the merrier. —TM

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“Republican lawmakers should join forces with those who will be paying the tax — Nevada businesses — and sue at the earliest possible convenience to defend the state Constitution.”

Thomas Mitchell
Mesquite Local News

EDITORIAL: Raising the sales tax for schools or the Culinary union?

Las Vegas Review-Journal 

June 10, 2019

Confusion, maneuvering and chicanery traditionally mark the conclusion of each biennial legislative session in Carson City. This year was no exception as lawmakers adjourned last week. Consider the hijacking of Assembly Bill 309.

Self-described public education and social justice advocates lauded the passage of AB309 because it authorizes the Clark County Commission to increase the sales tax by 0.25 of a percentage point to raise more money for schools and homelessness. The law allows the tax hike — which could generate $108 million a year — to be imposed through either a two-thirds vote of the commission itself or via a ballot measure put to Southern Nevada voters.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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June 11, 2019
11 Jun 2019

Political Update – June 11, 2019

EDITORIAL: Nevada Republicans should sue over illegal tax increase

Las Vegas Review-Journal

June 6, 2019

The state constitution won’t defend itself. That’s why Senate Republicans must go to court to challenge efforts by legislative Democrats to brazenly ignore the voter-imposed supermajority requirement for tax hikes.

On Monday, Democrats approved Senate Bill 551, an extension of the current Modified Business Tax rate. It was scheduled to decrease as a result of higher-than-anticipated revenues from the Commerce Tax. But despite a record tax take, Gov. Steve Sisolak’s budget proposal sought to kill the sunset.

The Nevada Constitution requires that any bill which “creates, generates or increases any public revenue in any form,” receive a two-thirds vote in both legislative houses. A bill that nixes the proposed tax reduction clearly “generates” revenue. That’s the whole point, after all.

Democrats have a supermajority in the Assembly, but are one vote shy in the Senate. So the majority leadership sought cover from the pliable attorneys at the Legislative Counsel Bureau, which provides legal advice to lawmakers. The LCB obliged with a nonbinding opinion declaring that extending a levy’s existing rate doesn’t trigger the two-thirds requirement. Democrats took that as a green light to approve the tax increase in the Senate by a simple majority.

It’s worth noting that the LCB reached the opposite conclusion in 2011, 2013 and 2015 regarding similar bills.

The LCB’s flip-flop was the result of political pressure rather than lucid legal reasoning. Democrats have long chafed at the two-thirds restraint, which Nevada voters twice approved overwhelmingly during the 1990s. The state’s political elite has sought to avoid or erode the mandate for decades.

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“The alternative is to allow the LCB and legislative Democrats to flout the constitution and the will of voters by declaring for sheer political convenience that the plain English of the two-thirds requirement doesn’t mean what it says.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

EDITORIAL: Nevada Democrats show themselves to be the party of the public sector

Las Vegas Review-Journal 

June 8, 2019

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger has spent years chronicling how the Democrats have devolved into the “party of the state and the public sector” through the ascension of powerful government unions, “whose lifeblood is tax revenue.”

His observations might neatly describe the recently concluded 2019 session of the Nevada Legislature.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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June 4, 2019
04 Jun 2019

Political Update – June 4, 2019

 

Payroll tax extension tied to teacher raises passes Senate, but lack of Republican support could trigger lawsuit 

Megan Messerly, Riley Snyder, Michelle Rindels
The Nevada Independent

June 3, 2019

Democratic lawmakers passed a bill Monday afternoon to remove a scheduled decrease in the state’s payroll tax rate, allocate the additional money it will generate toward education and formally kill a controversial quasi-voucher program in a final stab to Republican lawmakers who refused to get on board with extending the tax rate.

The dramatic defeat and resurrection of SB551 in different forms came after an hour and a half of floor debate on the last day of the legislative session and amid failed efforts by Democratic lawmakers to attract at least one Republican to support an extension in the state’s Modified Business Tax rate. The extension would raise roughly $98 million over the biennium and be directed toward school safety initiatives, teacher raises and the Opportunity Scholarship program.

After an initial vote failed with all eight Republican senators opposed, Democratic lawmakers adopted another amendment removing a requirement that it pass with support from two-thirds of lawmakers in support and adding language that would take the Education Savings Accounts program off the book. ESAs were created in 2015 but have been unfunded since a 2017 state Supreme Court decision found the funding mechanism unconstitutional.

The last-minute legislative maneuverings means lawmakers are likely to remove a scheduled decrease in the Modified Business Tax, which is assessed on payroll, and allocate $16.7 million in revenue to school safety initiatives, $72 million to teacher pay raises and $9.5 million to Opportunity Scholarships — a private school scholarship for low-income families funded through tax credits given in return for donations to scholarship organizations.

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“Governor signs it, we’ll be in court.”

Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer said regarding passage of Senate Bill 551 without 2/3 majority

The Latest: Lawmakers Extend Tax for Schools, Teacher Pay

Associated Press
U.S. News & World Report 

June 4, 2019

Senate Democrats have passed a bill extending a payroll tax by removing a requirement that mandates a two-thirds vote to pass.

The measure has shaped up to be one of the largest political fights in the last day of the 2019 legislative session. Republicans issued strong objections to extending the payroll tax, which Democrats say will put $72 million toward teacher pay raises and an extra $16.7 million to school safety efforts.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

To ensure that you continue receiving email updates,

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May 28, 2019
28 May 2019

Political Update – May 28, 2019

 

EDITORIAL: Will legislative taxes and the governor ignore the will of the people on taxes? 

Las Vegas Review-Journal

May 25, 2019

Legislative Democrats moved closer last week to a budget debacle involving the state constitution and tax increases.

On Thursday, the Assembly Taxation Committee, on a party line vote with all Republicans opposed, forwarded Assembly Bill 538 to the full chamber. The proposal scuttles a scheduled reduction in the payroll tax paid by Nevada businesses. That would raise about $100 million over the next two years, money integral to funding Gov. Steve Sisolak’s budget.

Under Nevada law — imposed in 1996 by state voters through the Gibbons Tax Restraint Initiative — any bill in Carson City that “creates, generates or increases any public revenue in any form” must pass with a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature. Democrats enjoy such dominance in the Assembly, but they are one vote shy of a supermajority in the state Senate, and legislative Republicans are in no hurry to sanction a tax hike.

Recognizing the conundrum, the governor and his Democratic allies in the Legislature argue disingenuously that AB538 does not raise taxes, it simply extends current rates. This is a position of pure political convenience. In previous sessions, Democrats have recognized that bills abolishing tax sunsets do indeed require two-thirds support if they are to pass constitutional muster. It’s basic logic that even most attorneys can grasp. If AB538 fails, the state will have $100 million less to spend over the next biennium. Ergo, AB538 “generates or increases … public revenue” and is subject to the two-thirds requirement.

Nevertheless, majority leaders sought a nonbinding opinion from the Legislative Counsel Bureau — which provides legal advice to lawmakers — on the matter. To nobody’s surprise, the LCB this month provided Democrats the cover they craved, a long-winded and tortured 24-page exercise in evasion that would have made Humpty Dumpty proud, purporting to show the plain language of the Nevada Constitution on tax hikes doesn’t mean what it clearly says.
Democrats are now threatening to push the tax hike through the Senate even if they’re unsuccessful at ipping a Republican or two to meet the constitutional mandate. That approach will prompt a court challenge and is not without risk, potentially leaving the budget with a gaping hole.

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“If the two-thirds requirement doesn’t apply to sunsets, then it’s not a stretch before it gets weakened (in) other areas.”

Michael Pelham of the Nevada Taxpayers Association to lawmakers

Group’s analysis critical of Nevada education funding bill

John Sadler
Las Vegas Sun 

May 26, 2019

A proposal to let Nevada counties raise sales tax to pay for certain K-12 education issues is drawing concern from state’s only public policy think tank.

The Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities released a report on Friday finding that a proposed amendment to Assembly Bill 309 allowing counties to implement a 0.25% sales tax would make Nevada more reliant on an “unstable and regressive” tax and create funding streams that could be unreliable. The tax would need to be approved by either a two-thirds majority of a county commission or by a majority vote in an election.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

To ensure that you continue receiving email updates,

please add Info@KeystoneNevada.com to your address book or safe list.
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May 21, 2019
21 May 2019

Political Update – May 21, 2019

 

When bureaucrats decide a tax increase isn’t actually an increase… 

Nevada Policy Research Institute

May 10, 2019

In order to fund Governor Sisolak’s proposed budget, Democrats want to change current law, and keep in place a temporary tax increase from 2015. That increase to the Modified Business Tax was originally set to expire this year.

Most people had assumed that such a move would require at least two-thirds support from the legislature — meaning at least one Republican in the Senate would need to join Democrats in voting to extend the tax.

However, the Legislative Council Bureau apparently had a different opinion, telling Democrats this week that no such “supermajority” is needed.

Apparently, the LCB has a different definition of the word “increase” than the rest of us.

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“I’m grateful to the Legislative Counsel Bureau for their work to issue this opinion and am pleased that they’ve concluded that a two-thirds vote is not required to pass my recommended budget.”

Governor Steve Sisolak

Details missing from new education funding bill

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal 

May 16, 2019

The long-awaited bill creating a new education funding formula is here. Many key details, however, are yet to be determined.

On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released the blueprint for a new school funding plan, Senate Bill 543. For years, many Democratic politicians have criticized the current formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who lack English prociency or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students, so they need additional services, which costs additional money.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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May 14, 2019
14 May 2019

Political Update – May 14, 2019

 

EDITORIAL: Sisolak, Democrats wrong to seek shortcut to tax hikes 

Las Vegas Review-Journal

May 11, 2019

Forget Washington. If you’re looking for an impending constitutional crisis, head to Carson City.

Nevada’s constitution requires that tax increases pass the Legislature with a two-thirds majority in both houses. That provision — approved by voters in 1994 and 1996 — has frequently frustrated big-government politicians. They’ve either had to do the hard work of securing broad support for new taxes or abandon their plans.

Gov. Steve Sisolak wants a third option — ignoring the constitution. On Thursday, the Review-Journal obtained copy of a nonbinding legal opinion from the Legislative Counsel Bureau saying he could do just that.

Sisolak’s budget relies on receiving around $100 million by extending the current rate of the Modified Business Tax, which is scheduled to decline slightly. Democrats have a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, but are one vote short of two-thirds in the Senate. Sisolak and legislative Democrats sought the LCB’s opinion, because they didn’t want to have to negotiate with Republicans.

While LCB claims to be nonpartisan, it serves as the majority party’s lawyers. If Democratic leaders insist on reaching a certain conclusion, LCB’s lawyers will come up with whatever twisted argument they can to justify it.

Which is exactly what LCB did in this opinion. Nevada’s constitution requires a two-thirds vote “to pass a bill or joint resolution which creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form.” Legislators can a pass a tax increase with a simple majority only by sending it out for a vote of the people.

To determine whether a bill “increases any public revenue in any form,” you don’t need a legal opinion, just a calculator. Without the proposed bill, look at what public revenues will be. If the proposed bill passes, see if public revenue will be higher than before. If yes, that’s an increase of public revenue.

Raising revenue is the entire reason Sisolak wants this bill to start with. He needs the nearly $100 million to balance his budget.

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“With 11% revenue growth Democrat leaders have many options to fund NV and get us out of the legislative session without triggering a constitutional crisis.”

Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer
on Twitter

EDITORIAL: CCSD needs to prepare to prevent teachers from striking

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal 

May 12, 2019

A dispute between adults shouldn’t hinder the amount of time students spend in the classroom. Yet that could be the ramification for the Clark County Education Association’s irresponsible strike threats.

On Sunday, the union announced that 78 percent of the more than 5,000 members voting authorized a strike at the start of next school year if it doesn’t get its way at the Legislature. It’s all about “the children,” right? Sure.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

To ensure that you continue receiving email updates,

please add Info@KeystoneNevada.com to your address book or safe list.
Click here to unsubscribe 
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