June 19, 2008

Nevada: Tax Hikes in Special Session Possible

The Reno Gazette Journal reports that tax increases may be on the agenda for next week's special session of the Nevada legislature. Among the candidates, according to Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, is raising the business payroll tax and hiking the hotel tax, popularly known as the "room tax."

For those who've followed Governor Jim Gibbons' membership in the dwindling crowd of state executives who are adhering to "no new taxes" pledges, this isn't terribly exciting news because the harsh political realities of the state suggest it doesn't matter what tax hikes the legislature discusses:
Gov. Jim Gibbons has said he would stick to his election-campaign pledge of no new taxes. Democrats are a vote shy of being able to override a veto in the Assembly and are in the minority in the Senate. Lanni’s suggestion to raise the payroll tax from 0.63 percent to 1.23 percent and generate $246 million annually won’t go far in the special session, Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said.“I am aware of it and have also heard from him on that and my indication is that this is not the time to start talking about raising taxes,” Raggio said. “We are in tough times and businesses are hurting and in this special session, it is something that we can’t even consider.”
Of course, depending on the outcome of the ongoing brouhaha over the size of Nevada's budget deficit, Democrats may ultimately find it easier to override a gubernatorial veto. And it's always possible that Governor Gibbons will back away from his pledge and start evaluating the state's fiscal jam in a non-judgmental way.

But don't hold your breath.


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