When a Republican starts dissembling over the “principled character” of his position in support of a tax hike, one immediately suspects the position is being articulated with a forked tongue coming out of two faces. Such is the case of Assemblyman Randy Kirner’s (R-Reno) recent defense of the proposed “Kirner Tax.”
The Washoe County School District — like just about every other school district in the universe — is whining about not having enough money. So it went to the Legislature this year to ask for a sales and property tax hike to fund school construction projects — including the must-have, super-critical installation of…wi-fi? — that would be built with over-inflated union wages.
And yet Kirner is now the leading champion of a bill (AB46) in which he, his legislative colleagues and the governor opted not to vote on the proposed tax hikes themselves — so much for profiles in courage — but instead passed the buck to the Washoe County Commission in an unconstitutional effort to circumvent the Gibbons Tax Restraint Law.
Kirner hopes the commissioners will send the Kirner Tax to a vote of the people, laughably referring to this end-run as “a principled approach to taxation with representation.”
What a load of sheep-dip. There’s no principle involved here. This is simply an all too typical case of a weak-kneed GOP legislator bending to the whim of a liberal special interest.
The fact is, Kirner was elected to represent the voters of his district, and those voters never demanded these tax hikes; the school district did. Nor did Kirner run on a platform of “Elect me and I’ll vote to raise your taxes.” So he has no electoral mandate whatsoever to do so.
Which is the reason for his butt-covering op-ed; designed to fool voters into believing up is down, night is day, and the Kirner Tax is somehow a “principled” proposal even though it is in direct conflict with the very Republican Party principles he supposedly supports.
If Assemblyman Kirner wishes to propose a sales and property tax hike, then he should run on the Kirner Tax next year in the Republican Party primary and see how well he fares at the ballot box.
And if some voters want to raise taxes on themselves, they can go out and collect enough signatures to demonstrate sufficient interest to put it on the ballot, just as former Gov. Jim Gibbons did with his tax restraint initiative.
And if Assemblyman Kirner wants to duck his responsibilities and not cast tough votes for or against local tax hikes, then give the local governments “home rule” so they have the power to make such decisions themselves.
Otherwise, perhaps Assemblyman Kirner could at least adopt the principle of being straight with the voters. Or is that too much to ask?