Saturday, June 21, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Nevada, despite or because of its status as one of the fastest-growing states in the country, is currently facing a gigundo budget deficit. This has already caused much belt-tightening across the state, including at UNR, with much more to come. The next three years -- the remainder of this biennium and the next one -- will be, to quote a colleague of mine, "not pretty."

Mind you, Nevada already scores dismally low on social services. This is among the worst states, right down there with Mississippi, in which to be poor or disadvantaged.

The newspaper article to which I linked above quotes Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, as saying, "I am going to keep all options on the table, and the only option that is not out there is raising taxes."

We have no income tax. We have very low property taxes. The state doesn't have enough money, and more people than ever are living here, taxing (if you'll pardon the pun) infrastructure and services.

Do the math.

The other day I was stopped in a supermarket parking lot by a kid with a petition to cap property taxes at 2%, rather than raising them to 3%. "No!" I told him. "This state needs a larger tax base, not a smaller one!" He scurried away, clearly frightened by my vehemence.

When I told my aforementioned colleague about this, she rolled her eyes and said, "My sister in Portland has a house comparable to mine and pays three times as much in property taxes as I do. I'd pay that in a heartbeat if it would fix this mess." So would we.

The problem with many taxes is that they're regressive, hitting hardest at the people who can least afford them. But there are ways around that, and an income tax would be one.

As Gary put it after our encounter with the petition kid, "Yeah, I'm a tax-and-spend liberal." Lots of people around here aren't. But we have to do something, and further slashing programs and services isn't a good solution for anybody.


  1. Amen, sister! People here don't seem to realize that they can write off state income tax on their federal tax returns, so it evens out. Besides that, we have two industries that bring in TONS of money (gaming brought in $35 billion last year, mining $9 billion) and don't pay their way. They get rich while the rest of the state falls into ruin. (sigh) I know, I'm preaching to the choir. ;-)

  2. No one likes to pay taxes, and some tax money always gets wasted -- but so does money in my church and household -- but some of us are awfully short-sighted with our "no new taxes" rhetoric.


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