Archive for category: Political Update

October 15, 2019
15 Oct 2019

Political Update – October 15, 2019

 

Counties, cities spent millions lobbying the Legislature

Riley Snyder
The Nevada Independent

October 13, 2019

Local governments and cities spent more than $3.9 million lobbying the 2019 Legislature, according to a state report that found total lobbying spending by governments hit the highest amount in more than a decade.

The report, which was compiled by the state Department of Taxation, is the product of a law that requires all local governments — everything from cities and counties to police departments, school districts and hospitals — to disclose any expenditures above $6,000 on “activities designed to influence the passage or defeat of any legislation.”

After hitting a pre-recession high of $3.99 million during the 2007 Legislature, the $3.9 million spent on lobbying activities in 2019 marked the second highest spending totals reported since the disclosure law was passed in 2001 — good for nearly $32,600 of taxpayer money spent every day of the 120-day legislative session.

Local governments, which in some cases have budgets that rival or even eclipse the state’s budget, say that lobbying expenditures are justified given the vast number of bills — law enforcement, open meeting laws, financial administration and public records — that affect counties and cities. But some critics have raised concerns with allowing governments to use taxpayer dollars for lobbying purposes that may go against the wants of the public.

“What governments are promoting or pushing with lawmakers isn’t always in line with what taxpayers or citizens are going to want, and yet, us taxpayers are still funding it no matter what, even if we disagree with it,” Michael Schaus, a spokesperson for libertarian-leaning Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) said in an interview.

Initial reporting of lobbying expenditures were due a month after the end of the legislative session, but following several Nevada Independent requests to top lobbying-spenders, the Department of Taxation revised its report and issued a new version this week.

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“Most state and local governments are prohibited from running budget deficits, That’s good, but it hasn’t kept them from pushing costs into the future. They’ve done that by short-changing their public pension plans. In 2017, the American Legislative Exchange Council estimated that state and local governments had a $6 trillion unfunded liability in their pension obligations.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

EDITORIAL: Taxes cost Americans more than amount spent on food, clothes and health care

Las Vegas Review-Journal
October 11, 2019

If you think Americans pay a lot in taxes, the numbers show you’re right.

Last year, the average American household unit spent $18,600 on taxes. That included more than $9,000 on federal income taxes, $5,000 on Social Security taxes and more than $4,400 on state and local taxes. That’s according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, analyzed by Terence Jeffrey with CNS News.

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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October 8, 2019
08 Oct 2019

Political Update – October 8, 2019

 

EDITORIAL: The dangers of turning the keys over to government unions

Las Vegas Review-Journal
October 3, 2019

During the recent legislative session, Gov. Steve Sisolak championed and signed a bill allowing state workers to collectively bargain. The dangerous fiscal ramifications of this move will become apparent in coming years. For a preview, however, Nevadans need look no further than Illinois to see what happens when Democrats beholden to public employee unions dominate the political process.

The Land of Lincoln is bleeding residents, who are fleeing the state’s burdensome taxes and moribund economy. From 2014 through 2018, the state lost 150,000 people, with 45,000 moving out last year alone. Middle-class families are socked with the second-highest property taxes in the nation, their tax bills often exceeding their mortgages. The Illinois Policy Institute notes that, since 1990, the state’s “residential property taxes have grown 3.3 times faster than the state’s median household income.”

Corruption, an entrenched progressive political class and cronyism certainly haven’t helped Illinois. But the inordinate power wielded by Illinois government unions is also a significant factor in the state’s population decline. Public employee unions run Illinois. Each election cycle, government unions pour millions into electing their favored Democratic candidates to state and local offices. They get paid back in spades, with ever-escalating taxes on private-sector workers forced to fund their contracts and benefits.

Illinois state workers are among the best paid in the country and make “up to 60 percent higher than their private-sector counterparts,” the IPI reports. In addition, public employees enjoy generous pension benefits that, the state Supreme Court has ruled, cannot be reduced for current workers or retirees.

Meanwhile, Illinois is a fiscal basket case. Its legislature failed to pass a budget for fiscal 2016 and 2017 and faced a deficit approaching $15 billion two years ago. The state’s credit rating hovers near junk-bond status. Outstanding pension obligations now total north of $160 billion. Many cities now must forgo basic services and lay off workers in order to cover mushrooming pension costs. For instance, East St. Louis was recently forced to turn over $2.2 million to the state in order to fund firefighter retiree checks.

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“Nevada is not Illinois. But it should be a red flag to Silver State pols about the dangers of ignoring public pension reform and the inevitable fiscal risks associated with empowering government unions at the expense of state taxpayers.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nevada attorney general sides with state Democrats in tax fight

Noell Evans
The Center Square

September 25, 2019

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford is siding with Democrats in a lawsuit filed by Republican lawmakers challenging two tax-related bills that had passed the state House and Senate.

Ford filed a motion in the Carson City District Courtroom of Judge Todd Russell claiming that the bills, as passed, were both legal and legally passed. Ford suggests that the case be dismissed “with prejudice.”

At issue is the passage of SB551 and SB542 earlier this year. The bills, which dealt with existing taxation levels, passed by a majority but not a two-thirds one. Republican lawmakers argue that because of the taxation repercussions in the bills, a two-thirds majority was needed for passage. They cite two voter-initiatives – one in 1994 and the other in 1996 – that call for the two/thirds majority passage.

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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October 1, 2019
01 Oct 2019

Political Update – October 1, 2019

 

Gross Receipts Taxes Face Policy and Legal Challenges

Stephen P. Kranz, Diann Smith, Joe Bishop-Henchman
National Law Review

September 24, 2019

“Generally, the only places with gross receipts taxes today are U.S. states and developing countries.” –Professor Richard Pomp, University of Connecticut

The resurgence of GRTs is surprising, given they had all but disappeared by the end of the 20th century. Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey and West Virginia had recently repealed theirs. Every country that had a gross receipts tax, or turnover tax as they were historically called, recognized their flaws and switched to other forms of taxation by the 1970s. Public finance scholars are very critical of gross receipts taxes for the incredible damage they inflict on an economy, their lack of transparency, their imposition even on unprofitable businesses, and the economic distortions that come from the tax’s inherent “cascading” or “pyramiding”—embedding taxes within taxes, through each stage of the production chain. Adam Smith, writing in The Wealth of Nations, blamed Spain’s alcavala gross receipts tax for their national economic decline, and studies have found that developing countries adopt gross receipts taxes but switch away from them once their economy and tax collection system mature.

So, why the sudden popularity? It’s simple, really: GRTs raise enormous sums of revenue with a deceptively low tax rate, and are collected by a relatively small number of taxpayers (businesses). Oregon, for instance, estimates that their new 0.57% CAT will raise over $1 billion per year for Oregon schools, compared to the $736 million raised by the 7.6% corporate income tax. San Francisco expects to raise $250 million annually from a recent gross receipts tax increase, imposed on just 400 firms. GRTs are also a way to shift the overall tax burden from in-state businesses onto businesses with capital-intensive production, or businesses that sell nationwide or worldwide.

If GRTs in practice don’t strike you as simple, you’re not alone. Firms doing business in states that have adopted GRTs face legal and compliance issues such as easy-to-trigger nexus thresholds, how to handle nexus questionnaires, apportionment, whether to pass it forward to customers, definitional disputes, whether to adjust business processes to minimize liability, and a ramp up in administrative rulemaking. Some states have ratcheted up complexity as they try to mitigate pyramiding—for example, the Nevada Commerce Tax has 27 different tax rates—and which category a business falls in can be a difference of tens of millions of dollars in tax liability.

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“If a tax is scheduled to expire, extending it is increasing the tax burden.”

Americans for Tax Reform Twitter post on Nevada’s tax extention legal challenge

2019 Legislative Report Card

Nevada Policy Research Institute
September 2019

It is to ensure that Nevada’s elected officials are held to account for the votes they cast that Nevada Policy publishes this legislative report card after every session. However, the way a lawmaker votes only tells part of the story.

Some of the most significant legislative actions occur behind the scenes, long before any vote is ever taken. To that end, Nevada Policy thought it important to go beyond merely the bills that were voted on in both chambers, and recognize specific lawmakers for their actions before votes were ever even cast.

Given the landscape of modern politics, these issue-specific “rankings” will prove crucial for citizens and activists who are looking to advance liberty by working beyond partisan politics, and engaging lawmakers on key issues.

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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September 24, 2019
24 Sep 2019

Political Update – September 24, 2019

Nevada Attorney General moves to dismiss GOP business tax lawsuit

Geoff Dornan
Nevada Appeal

September 21, 2019

Attorney General Aaron Ford this week took up the cause of Senate Democrats trying to protect their votes to extend two taxes that were scheduled to sunset July 1.

He filed a motion in Carson District Court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by all eight Nevada Senate Republicans charging that those bills are unconstitutional because they didn’t get a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

SB551 removed the sunset from the higher Modified Business Tax to pump about $100 million into K-12 education. SB542 extended the technology fee DMV is using to pay for a new computer system for an additional two years.

Both passed the Senate on a party-line vote, 13-8 — one vote short of two-thirds.

“Because neither bill ‘creates, generates or increases’ ‘taxes, fees, assessments and rates,’ each bill is constitutional,” the motion argues, quoting from the Nevada Constitution’s “supermajority” provision.

Citing that language, the motion says, “there is no reasonable doubt that the supermajority provision is intended to apply to new taxes relative to prior years rather than continuing existing taxes at existing rates as the 2019 Legislature did.”

And the attorney general’s motion says that, if there is any ambiguity requiring interpretation, “this court should interpret the supermajority provision narrowly with the intent that it apply only to new or increased taxes, not to the continuation of existing taxes at existing rates from one year to the next.”

Ford filed the motion on behalf not only of Gov. Steve Sisolak, the Department of Taxation and DMV but Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas. The suit also lists Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall and Senate Secretary Claire Clift, “in their official capacity.”

Led by Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, Senate Republicans stood together, arguing that the constitutional provision has always been interpreted as applying to extending existing taxes as well as to new or raised taxes.

He argued that SB551 wasn’t even necessary to fund K-12 education because the state’s surplus is greater than the $100 million the MBT would generate. The DMV fee, by comparison, would only generate about $7 million a year.

But Democrats argued that, in a May 8 memorandum, Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes cleared their simple majority vote on the two bills.

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“At the Keystone Corporation, we believe it this provision of our Constitution is worth fighting to defend, and that is why we joined this lawsuit. Further, if legislators can simply ignore the Nevada Constitution to allow for tax increases on the Modified Business Tax (MBT) and on DMV fees this year, what will happen when they try to raise our sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, and on and on?”

Keystone Corporation

Don’t count on Raiders reimbursing any public money for stadium

Richard N. Velotta
Las Vegas Review-Journal

September 22, 2019

It didn’t take long for an obvious question to be asked about the Raiders’ better-than-expected personal seat license sales and new revenue generated with third-party sponsors:

If the Raiders are doing so well, why can’t they pay a larger portion of the overall cost of Allegiant Stadium and reimburse the public for the $750 million it’s contributing to the project through a 0.88 percentage point increase on hotel room taxes?

The answer, simply, is that’s the deal the Nevada Legislature made when a special session convened in October 2016. The possibility of taking back some money came up when the Legislature met, as well as when the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee debated the matter 3½ years ago.

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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September 17, 2019
17 Sep 2019

Political Update – September 17, 2019

EDITORIAL: Clark County and the great temporary tax ruse

Las Vegas Review-Journal
September 9, 2019

The Clark County Commission last week unwittingly exposed one of the scams of modern liberal governance: the “temporary” tax ruse.

Last Tuesday, the board, comprised of all Democrats, voted 5-2 to raise the sales tax by one-eighth of a percentage point to 8.375 percent. Analysts project the move — enabled by timorous Democratic lawmakers in Carson City who punted on the issue — will raise $54 million a year. While the commissioners have yet to determine where they’ll direct the windfall, expect the school district to reap much of the benefit.

Overshadowed by the decision, however, was a second tax debate in front of the commission that same day.

Back in 1998, a majority of Clark County voters backed an advisory ballot question asking if they favored a higher sales tax to pay for local water and infrastructure improvements. State lawmakers used the vote to justify imposing a quarter percentage point increase in the sales tax, and the levy has so far generated $1.4 billion. The tax is set to expire after 25 years or once it has brought in $2.3 billion.

But any poor sap who thought a Nevada government body would allow such a lucrative stream of other people’s money to go “poof” needs to brush up on Silver State civics.

Sure enough, the commissioners last Tuesday voted 6-1 to put the kibosh on the sunset. The water and sewer infrastructure tax presented to voters two decades ago as “temporary” is now etched in stone.

All this is in keeping with the sorry and predictable history of “temporary” taxes in Nevada. In order to gain support for these money grabs, the sponsors cynically insert sunset provisions, chuckling with the knowledge that it will be a cold day in Hades before the spigot ever goes dry. This ploy even allows the tax-and-spend crowd to employ the disingenuous fib that they’re not really raising taxes, they’re simply leaving rates at current levels.

This is precisely the poppycock that Gov. Steve Sisolak and legislative Democrats trotted out earlier this year when they extended the modified business tax without the constitutionally required two-thirds vote. That matter is currently being litigated. Ignoring sunset provisions in various “temporary” taxes was also an integral part of former GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“But any poor sap who thought a Nevada government body would allow such a lucrative stream of other people’s money to go “poof” needs to brush up on Silver State civics.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Businesses join fight against ‘unconstitutional’ Nevada taxes

Bethany Blankley
The Center Square

September 6, 2019

Four Nevada business groups have joined a lawsuit challenging the state over two tax hikes slated to go into effect on Sept. 30 and July 1, 2020, respectively.

The Retail Association of Nevada, Nevada Trucking Association, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association joined Senate Republican Caucus in its lawsuit against Gov. Steve Sisolak, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, the Nevada Department of Taxation and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The lawsuit challenges two bills, SB 551 and SB 542, which were signed into law after being passed by a simple majority rather than the supermajority that’s usually required to impose taxes and fees.

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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September 10, 2019
10 Sep 2019

Political Update – September 10, 2019

EDITORIAL: Empty promises for Nevada tax breaks

Las Vegas Review-Journal
August 17, 2019

The competition to attract high-profile business expansions has in recent years fostered an arms race among states. The frenzy reached a crescendo when Amazon executives played hundreds of U.S. jurisdictions against each other last year after announcing their intention to build a second headquarters.

Nevada leapt into the fray a decade ago with the creation of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, charged with dangling incentives in front of corporate titans, business owners and entrepreneurs in an effort to attract investment and jobs.

The push to convince Amazon to come to Nevada failed, of course. But the office did manage to land a big fish in 2014 when Tesla’s Elon Musk agreed to build his massive battery factory near Reno in return for $1.3 billion in tax breaks over 20 years, all dutifully approved by Nevada lawmakers.

But Telsa is just one of many recipients of state tax abatements. In total, Nevada economic development officials have showered tax breaks totaling hundreds of millions of dollars on more than 275 companies since 2009. In return, the companies promise to create a certain number of jobs and meet various investment thresholds. Some of these businesses are smaller enterprises, but major conglomerates and wealthy tech outfits also sidled up to the trough. In addition to Tesla, recipients include Apple, Switch, eBay and Scientific Games.

Critics have long argued convincingly that a more effective way to promote sustained economic growth is to create an overall tax and regulatory climate conducive to entrepreneurship and business expansion rather than to single out specific enterprises for special dispensation. An analysis published last month by the Reno Gazette-Journal provides plenty of ammunition for that contention.

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“There’s nothing wrong with letting individuals and companies keep more of their own money. But singling out some entities for tax relief, while others pay full freight, smacks of cronyism and rent-seeking.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

EDITORIAL: Over 2,000 PERS retirees collecting pensions over $100K

Las Vegas Review-Journal
September 7, 2019

Over 2,150 people raked in at least $100,000 apiece last year from the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada. That’s according to pension data now available at Transparent Nevada.

That number has been growing rapidly. In 2013, just over 1,000 people collected pensions worth at least $100,000. The number of retirees collecting over $200,000 a year has grown too. In 2013, 10 people received pensions greater than that amount. Last year, 23 people did.

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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September 3, 2019
03 Sep 2019

Political Update – September 3, 2019

Super Majority Vote Requirement Ignored by Democrats

Heidi Gansert
Nevada Business Magazine

September 1, 2019

In the final days of Nevada’s 80th Legislative Session, the Democrat majority in the Nevada State Senate and Assembly wielded their power to pass Senate Bill 551 (SB551) which raised Modified Business Tax (MBT) rates beyond their scheduled July 1, 2019 levels using a new simple majority voting threshold of 50 percent plus one vote. This vote was in direct conflict with the two-thirds supermajority requirement in Nevada’s Constitution.

The two-thirds vote has been used for extending taxes like the 2009 legislative session’s “sunset” taxes, for increases in license fees, room taxes and property taxes. Simply put, the two-thirds supermajority vote provision has not been ignored, rather it’s been respected and upheld for decades. In times when a single political party controls both houses of the legislature and governorship, the two-thirds supermajority vote provision in Nevada’s Constitution for increased revenue is the sole check on the growth of taxes and government.

How Will This Affect You?

The simple majority vote for SB551 created a new and dangerous precedent to increase taxes and fees as well as remove tax credits and exemptions.

Now, with a simple majority vote, you could face increased property taxes on your home by the removal of the 3 percent statutory cap, you could be taxed on life-saving prescription drugs like insulin and you could be taxed on your electricity, gas and water. For businesses, the Commerce Tax could affect more businesses with the elimination of the MBT tax credit, inventories could be taxed and much more.

The Democrat majority forced this vote for two reasons: to establish a much lower threshold to raise taxes and to secure a greater revenue stream to support continued expansion of government. This vote was not about filling a budget hole or shoring up a revenue shortfall.

During these robust economic times, legislative fiscal staff confirmed there was over a $100 million surplus of unallocated funds available when the 2020-21 budget was finalized in late May of this year. The total taxes raised by SB551 were forecasted to be less than this $100 million surplus. And, recently, Governor Sisolak confirmed no budget hole would be created if the revenue from SB551 was eliminated. Resetting the tax voting threshold to a simple majority was critical to Governor Sisolak and his Democrat colleagues because they substantially changed the trajectory of the cost of government by passing legislation to allow collective bargaining for state employees, by requiring higher prevailing wages for school construction, by increasing the minimum wage and more.

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“The Democrat majority forced this vote for two reasons: to establish a much lower threshold to raise taxes and to secure a greater revenue stream to support continued expansion of government. This vote was not about filling a budget hole or shoring up a revenue shortfall.”

Heidi Gansert

COMMENTARY: Right-to-work law boosts the Nevada economy

Mark Mix
Special to the Las Vegas Review-Journal

September 1, 2019

Nevada’s right-to-work is simple: It means no worker can be forced to join a union or pay union dues to get or keep a job. It’s basic common sense. And given the history of Big Labor’s power in Nevada, some find it surprising that the state’s had a right-to-work law for 66 years.

Right now, millions of workers around the country are forced to pay dues — or be fired — because they have the misfortune of being located in one of 23 states that do not have a right-to-work law. And every year, these workers cough up billions of dollars in forced union dues to union bosses just to have a job and feed their families.

This is just plain wrong and un-American.

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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August 27, 2019
27 Aug 2019

Political Update – August 27, 2019

 

GOP lawsuit vital to protecting our representative system of government

Robert Fellner
Nevada Policy Research Institute

August 12, 2019

In an effort to defend our state constitution and representative system of government, the Senate Republican Caucus recently filed a lawsuit to invalidate a pair of tax hikes that were passed without the constitutionally required two-thirds support.

After successive, landslide votes in 1994 and 1996, Nevadans amended the state constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the Legislature to pass any bill “which creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form.”

Thus, when Senate Democrats sought to pass a pair of bills that would prevent the expiration of one tax and the scheduled decline of another, most expected those bills would require at least two-thirds support to pass.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau, however, determined that a bill which prevents the scheduled decline of an existing tax does not increase revenue and, as such, can be passed by a simple majority vote.

While most would consider the two-thirds provision to be remarkably clear, the LCB found it vague and ambiguous, and ultimately concluded that it only applies to bills that create a new tax or directly increase an existing one.

The LCB claimed that when the constitution references a bill that “creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form,” it’s actually only referring to bills that “directly increase revenue,” either by overtly raising an existing tax or creating a new one.

But such an interpretation is strictly prohibited by the rules of statutory construction as articulated by the Nevada Supreme Court, which requires courts to avoid rendering any constitutional text “meaningless or superfluous.”

Because the text of the two-thirds provision references any bill that “creates, generates, or increases” any public revenue, even if one finds that text unclear and in need of further clarification, the resultant definition must be more expansive than just bills which directly increase revenue, in order to prevent rendering the terms of “creates” and “generates” meaningless.

In other words, the constitutional text of “creates, generates, or increases” cannot be reduced to just “increases.”

This is why the LCB’s citation to the state Supreme Courts of Oregon and Oklahoma is not persuasive, as both of those courts were interpreting the narrower phrase of “bills for raising revenue.”

So, what might Nevada’s much broader language apply to, beyond just new taxes or increases in existing taxes as the LCB contends?

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“At the Keystone Corporation, we believe it this provision of our Constitution is worth fighting to defend, and that is why we joined this lawsuit. Further, if legislators can simply ignore the Nevada Constitution to allow for tax increases on the Modified Business Tax (MBT) and on DMV fees this year, what will happen when they try to raise our sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, and on and on?”

Keystone Corporation

Emails raise questions about award of DMV computer contract

Arthur Kane

Las Vegas Review-Journal
August 24, 2019

Officials of a tech company that was awarded a contract to modernize the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles’ computer system met with the agency’s former director and key staffers just months before the state issued a request for proposals for the project, emails show.

The emails raise questions about whether the company, Tech Mahindra, had an inside track for the failed $75 million contract. Officials involved in the meetings and representatives of other companies that bid for the project did not return calls or emails asking whether other bidders met with state officials before the RFP. 

According to the emails, Tech Mahindra vice president Aman Sethi met with then-DMV director Troy Dillard on Feb. 18, 2015, to discuss the modernization. Three weeks later, Sethi scheduled a meeting that included Karuppuswamy Manivannan and Anand Vijayaraghavan, two state IT employees who would end up on the selection committee that picked Tech Mahindra, emails show.

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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August 20, 2019
20 Aug 2019

Political Update – August 20, 2019

Keystone Corporation Joins Lawsuit to Protect Nevada’s Constitution

Keystone Corporation
August 20, 2019

The Keystone Corporation is proud to have joined in the lawsuit to protect Nevada’s Constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the legislature support tax increases before they can be enacted. As an organization, we didn’t just join this lawsuit, we are doing our part to help fund it.  But we need your help today.

As the leading conservative statewide business organization in Nevada, we would love for you to join us and become a member today so you can help us win this lawsuit and fight for our shared principles.  However, if you are unable to join at this time, you can still help us fight to protect our Constitution by going here.

Article 4, Section 18, Subsection 2 of the Nevada Constitution clearly states that this two-thirds vote is required in both houses of the legislature for any bill “which creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form, including but not limited to taxes, fees, assessments, rates, or changes in the computation bases for taxes, fees, assessments and rates.” 

Using what Senate Republican Leader James Settelmeyer (District 17) has properly called “a work of legal fiction,” legislative lawyers for the Democrat majority gave a green light to legislators to ignore our Constitution, along with the will of the voters.  In two consecutive elections, Nevada voters placed this tax restraint initiative into our Constitution with over 70 percent of the vote.  That is a clear, bipartisan statement by the voters of our state.  

At the Keystone Corporation, we believe it this provision of our Constitution is worth fighting to defend, and that is why we joined this lawsuit. Further, if legislators can simply ignore the Nevada Constitution to allow for tax increases on the Modified Business Tax (MBT) and on DMV fees this year, what will happen when they try to raise our sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, and on and on?  

Please consider joining Keystone Corporation today, or provide us with a contribution to help fund this critically-imporant lawsuit.  We appreciate any amount you can provide.

*IMPORTANT*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“At the Keystone Corporation, we believe it this provision of our Constitution is worth fighting to defend, and that is why we joined this lawsuit. Further, if legislators can simply ignore the Nevada Constitution to allow for tax increases on the Modified Business Tax (MBT) and on DMV fees this year, what will happen when they try to raise our sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, and on and on?”

Keystone Corporation

GOP lawsuit vital to protecting our representative system of government

Robert Fellner
Nevada Policy
Research Institute

August 12, 2019

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

In an effort to defend our state constitution and representative system of government, the Senate Republican Caucus recently filed a lawsuit to invalidate a pair of tax hikes that were passed without the constitutionally required two-thirds support.

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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August 13, 2019
13 Aug 2019

Political Update – August 13, 2019



EDITORIAL: Nevada PERS counting on unrealistic investment assumptions

 

Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

August 10, 2019

The current stock market volatility is another reminder of the precarious position of public pension systems, including Nevada’s plan for state workers. That’s because public pensions invest heavily in volatile assets, like stocks.

Across the country, state and local pension plans are only 73 percent funded, according to a review of 180 plans by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada does slightly better, coming in at around 75 percent funded. But neither statistic is encouraging.

“State and local pension plans have about $4.4 trillion in assets according to the Federal Reserve,” The Wall Street Journal reported last week, “$4.2 trillion less than they need to pay for promised future benefits.”

Imagine the uproar if pension plan officials announced they were going to pay out only 75 percent of promised benefits. Yet that’s all the assets most of these pension plans currently have — assuming they hit their investment assumptions.

This is especially concerning, because pension systems are riding a 10-year-wave of positive investment returns. The S&P 500 has more than tripled in value since the beginning of 2009. If pension systems are only 75 percent funded after a decade of healthy growth, what happens to the unfunded liability during the next downturn?

Pension managers, however, assure the public that there’s nothing to worry about. To make up for the deficits and growing obligations, they assume pension plans will earn a 7.4 percent return, on average. Nevada PERS assumes annual returns of 7.5 percent.

In fact, these projections disguise the real problem by likely underinflating long-term obligations by overestimating portfolio performance. Thirty years ago, a level of return of around 8 percent may have been realistic. As the Wall Street Journal reported last month, a 30-year U.S. Treasury bond had a return rate of almost 9 percent in 1987. This week, the yield on a 30-year U.S. Treasury bond was 2.25 percent.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

"When returns fall short, however, the amount the government must contribute increases,” the Journal noted, “potentially diverting money from other public services.” Or leading to tax hikes on the private sector taxpayers who are ultimately responsible for funding these generous retirement plans."

Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

NEVADA SHOULD END TAX BREAKS FOR THE SELECT FEW

Thomas Mitchell
Lincoln County Record

August 8, 2019

For the past decade Nevada’s Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has doled out billions of dollars worth of tax breaks to select companies in order to entice them to make capital investments here and create jobs. The companies getting the tax breaks include giants such as Tesla Motors, Apple, Amazon, eBay and Switch.

The office has done this despite the fact the state Constitution declares, “The Legislature shall provide by law for a uniform and equal rate of assessment and taxation …” It’s not uniform or equal if a select few get breaks while others don’t.

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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It’s time for GOED to go

Robert Fellner
Nevada Policy Research Institute

July 31, 2019

The RGJ’s recent report, Nevada got a fraction of the jobs, investment promised by Tesla-style tax breaks, confirms what experts have been warning about for years: Nevada’s corporate welfare program is a bad deal for taxpayers.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) provides billions of dollars in tax breaks to large corporations like Apple and Tesla, based on the idea that the added jobs and investments they bring to Nevada will more than offset the cost.

But that claim has been repeatedly debunked by academic research, which finds that programs like GOED tend to be a wash or, in some cases, a net negative. A study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Regional Science, for example, found that tax incentives actually reduced job growth and business expansion. The study also found that businesses who received the incentives consistently overestimated the economic benefits they would deliver, just like what has happened here in Nevada.

Unfortunately, while the promised benefits have failed to fully materialize, the costs imposed on taxpayers are here to stay. In an effort to quantify that cost, experts at the Mercatus Center recently estimated that eliminating corporate incentives would yield enough savings to reduce Nevada’s sales tax by 7 percent.

That bears repeating: Nevadans are effectively paying more in sales tax just so some of the world’s richest companies can receive a tax break, like the $13.6 million tax abatement given to eBay for a project which created a grand total of two new jobs.

While free markets require that businesses serve the needs of consumers in order to profit, politics rewards insiders who can afford to hire the best lobbyists. This explains why so many legislators support giving tax breaks to giant corporations rather than ordinary Nevadans: the former tends to spend much more on lobbying efforts than the latter.

There is also the issue of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs. Jobs created through GOED give politicians a great opportunity for free press, while the costs are widely dispersed and thus unseen.

Speaking of that which is unseen, it was quite troubling to read that GOED refused to answer the RGJ’s questions “about whether or how it pushed companies to meet the state’s performance measures,” particularly given the tax-funded agency routinely claims it does just that when responding to reports of underperformance.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“That bears repeating: Nevadans are effectively paying more in sales tax just so some of the world’s richest companies can receive a tax break, like the $13.6 million tax abatement given to eBay for a project which created a grand total of two new jobs.”

Robert Fellner
Nevada Policy Research Institute

LETTER: No such thing as a ‘temporary’ tax in Nevada

Daniel Honchariw
to the Las Vegas Review-Journal

August 3, 2019

Kudos to state Senate Republicans for challenging the unconstitutional modified business tax extension. The voter-approved, two-thirds constitutional requirement for any tax increase is too vital a taxpayer protection to diminish.

But on the heels of this legal challenge, one may be inclined to ask: Do taxes ever actually sunset as planned? There’s plenty of recent evidence to suggest “temporary” taxes, in practice, are about as rare as unicorns. Besides the MBT extension, here are a few other “temporary” taxes that have already been, or are likely soon to be, extended into perpetuity:

— DMV technology fee — This $1 fee was supposed to expire in June 2020, but Senate Bill 542 of the 2019 session extended the fee for at least two years. This extension is also being challenged in the pending litigation, having been approved with less than two-thirds support in the Senate.

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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