Government-lovin’ tax hikers in Nevada shouldn’t be doing the Snoopy dance just yet. As fictional Sen. John “Bluto” Blutarsky of “Animal House” famously put it, “Nothing’s over until we decide it is.”
Fact: Gov. Brian Sandoval didn’t campaign last year on raising taxes and spending by over a billion dollars — including the creation of a new gross receipts tax — and, therefore, had no mandate from we, the people to do so.
Fact: Not one Republican candidate for the Legislature campaigned on raising taxes and spending by over a billion dollars — including the creation of a new gross receipts tax — and, therefore, had no mandate from we, the people, to do so.
To the contrary, we, the people, overwhelmingly rejected a similar gross receipts tax proposal that was on the ballot last November.
But our elected elite thought they knew better. So they just stuck us with the largest tax increase in Nevada’s history: $1.5 billion.
Fortunately, Nevada’s Constitution empowers we, the people, to have the last word on this.
Article 19, Section 1 provides for a “Referendum for approval or disapproval of statute or resolution enacted by legislature.”
Unless I’m reading it wrong, it certainly appears that our Constitution allows we, the people, to gather enough signatures to put Sandoval’s tax hike — including the creation of the new gross receipts tax — on the ballot in 2016 for an up-or-down vote.
The number of signatures required to qualify such a referendum is “10 percent or more of the number of voters who voted at the last preceding general election.”
Fortunately for taxpayers, voter turnout last November was exceptionally low — only 552,326. That means only around 55,000 signatures are needed to put this tax hike on the ballot. But here’s an even better part …
If the referendum makes it onto the ballot, the various tax hikes that were included in the bill “shall not be amended, annulled, repealed, set aside, suspended or in any way made inoperative except by the direct vote of the people” even if they are ultimately approved by we, the people.
That means the Legislature won’t be able to raise the new gross receipts tax, raise the modified business payroll tax, raise the sales tax, raise the cigarette tax or raise your vehicle registration fees in the future without a vote of we, the people who have to pay these taxes.
And unless Nevada’s business community wants to pay the millions of dollars this new gross receipts tax is going to steal from their bottom lines, they should not only join the WeDecideCoalition.com, but pony up the couple hundred thousand dollars needed to obtain the number of signatures required to put this referendum on the 2016 ballot.
So let it be written; so let it be done.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass-roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.