In the ongoing David vs. Goliath battle between the taxpayers of Nevada and the three-headed tax-hike hydra representing Big Gaming, Big Mining and Big Labor, the little guys just won a huge victory.
Back in August, Nevada State Controller Ron Knecht, Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers, former Nevada State Assemblyman Ed Goedhart and conservative activist/talk-show host Theresa Catalani formed the “RIP Commerce Tax” political action committee (PAC) for the purpose of placing a referendum on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s new “commerce tax” on the ballot next November.
The misleadingly named commerce tax is a mutated version of the gross receipts tax that 80 percent of Nevada voters overwhelmingly rejected at the polls just a year ago. It is, in short, an income tax on the gross revenues of Nevada businesses whether or not the business is profitable.
It’s an obscene tax that Sandoval actually campaigned against in 2014 before flip-flopping and proposing it in his 2015 budget as part of a massive $1.4 billion tax hike package that the Republican majority in both the Assembly and Senate shamefully went along with despite campaigning as fiscal conservatives who opposed tax hikes.
Indeed, if there were truth-in-labeling laws for politicians like there are for businesses, some of these Republicans In Name Only (RINOs) would be facing jail time. But I digress.
On October 8, 2015 RIP PAC filed its referendum on the commerce tax with the Secretary of State.
If the voters reject the commerce tax, the governor and Legislature will have to reconvene and either cut the budget or find another source of revenue to fill the gap. If voters approve the commerce tax, at least it will be locked in place without the Legislature being allowed to raise it in the future without a subsequent vote of the people.
So as long as it makes it on the ballot, taxpayers will either win or win big. Enter the Coalition for Nevada’s Future (CNF).
CNF was also established as a PAC back in August, but for the expressed purpose of blocking any referendums or initiatives that would undo Sandoval’s largest tax hike in Nevada history or any part of it. CNF was created by a lawyer who admitted in court that he was representing the gaming and mining industries and organized labor.
CNF then filed a kitchen sink lawsuit to block RIP PAC’s referendum and threw every legal obstacle and argument it could conjure up to get the court to stop the citizens of Nevada who will have to pay for this tax hike the opportunity to vote on, well, whether or not they want to pay for this tax hike.
The combatants collided in the First District Court in Carson City on December 2nd. When the smoke cleared, the tax hikers took one in the shorts when Judge James Wilson ruled that RIP PAC’s referendum could go to the ballot if the required number of Nevadans sign a petition requesting it.
Let the signature-gathering begin!
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com. You can reach him at ChuckMuth.com