(Sharon Rossie, NPRI) – Now that I’ve been back at NRPI for some time and had the opportunity to speak with and meet many of you and hear your hopes and concerns for Nevada, I’d like to share my vision for NPRI and show you what I believe we can accomplish together.
Based on the feedback I’ve received from so many of you over the past month and a half, it seems we’re all in agreement that the last Legislative Session was disappointing, to say the least. Despite the fact that we voters shot down a gross receipts tax just months earlier, our lawmakers passed a $1.5 billion tax increase, including a commerce tax that’s similar to the defeated margin tax in all the worst ways.
I, like many of you, am disheartened by the many Nevada lawmakers who rejected the will of the people and championed these destructive tax hikes.
But I won’t give up, and neither should you. The fight isn’t over.
NPRI, through our Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, is looking at the constitutionality of the commerce tax. Because the commerce tax has 27 different rates, we believe in may violate the Constitutional mandate, which says, “The Legislature shall provide by law for a uniform and equal rate of assessment and taxation…”
We are also going to tell the stories of businesses that are hurt by this tax increase to make sure the public, the media, and policymakers know how tax hikes affect the ordinary, working people who make Nevada great.
And, we plan to make it known which lawmakers voted like fiscal conservatives and which didn’t in our upcoming Legislative Review and Report Card. In this publication and others, we will continue to hold policymakers accountable to Nevada voters for their actions — good or bad.
There are also two tax increases going to the ballot next year — a gas tax increase and a tax increase for school construction in Washoe County. Just as we successfully did with the defeated margin tax, we will let Nevada citizens know why those tax increases aren’t necessary and show what will happen to working Nevadans, families, businesses and the economy if those taxes are approved.
We also are working to maximize and protect the one positive reform that came from the Legislative Session: Education Savings Accounts. As you’ve seen, we recently rolled out a new website, NevadaESA.com, and our staff have been meeting with parents and community members daily to inform them about this new program.
And now that this program is being challenged in court by the ACLU and other special interest groups — as we suspected it would be — NPRI’s work to help as many families as possible apply for ESAs while they can is more important than ever.
So far, over 3,000 applications have been filed, meaning there will be over 3,000 families standing to protect this groundbreaking program from those who want to limit choice and keep children in failing schools. Once it begins early next year, Nevada’s ESA program will be the most popular such school choice program in the country, proving that Nevada families are desperate to provide quality education to their children.
This is our chance to show Nevada’s education establishment, and the rest of the country that school choice works. Having a successful ESA program won’t just improve educational outcomes for students, it’ll be the best guard we have against future tax increases.
What do you think of our priorities?
Sharon Rossie is president of Nevada Policy Research Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank that produces and shares ideas and information that empowers people. For more information, please visit www.NPRI.org.