(Chuck Muth) – In a Las Vegas Sun story by reporter David McGrath Schwartz today, Gov. Jim Gibbons’ spokesman, Dan Burns, attempts to parse – OK, rewrite – the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that then-gubernatorial candidate Gibbons made to the voters of Nevada, in writing, back in 2006.
At issue, once again, is an effort by some to pretend that a fee – other than a TRUE user fee – is anything but a tax.
What’s amazing here is that after his State of the State speech this week, the governor himself told reporters that he believes that “fees are taxes.”
And as Schwartz notes in his story, “In 2007, soon after Gibbons took office, his general counsel issued a memo to department heads clarifying the governor’s stance on fees. ‘New fees would run afoul of the governor’s policy,’ then-general counsel Josh Hicks wrote.”
I know it’s a cliché, but apparently somebody missed a memo.
And according to the story, deputy chief-of-staff Lynn Hettrick has reaffirmed the governor’s policy, stating that no new memo to the contrary has been issued and “The governor is against fee increases.”
Yet according to the Sun story, Mr. Burns is quoted as saying that “If the group that pays the fee agrees to pay the fee, and the group that pays the fee gets the advantage of the fee, then the governor won’t stand in the way.”
OK, class, sharpen your No. 2 pencils and write this down. Here’s the exact wording of the promise Gov. Gibbons made, in writing, to the people of Nevada on the campaign trail in 2006:
“I, Jim Gibbons, pledge to the taxpayers of the state of Nevada, that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
Here’s what the promise the governor made, in writing, does NOT say:
“I, Jim Gibbons, pledge to the taxpayers of the state of Nevada, that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes….unless it’s called a fee and the group that pays the fee agrees to pay the fee, and the group that pays the fee gets the advantage of the fee, then I won’t stand in the way.”
THIS, boys and girls, is why I’m so adamant about getting candidates to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge; because even those who sign it often try to find “loopholes” in it which don’t exist when the heat is on.
Which is why, and no offense intended, I’m not taking to the bank the verbal assurances that GOP gubernatorial candidates Mike Montandon and Brian Sandoval have given thus far on the tax issue. They say things like, “Now’s not the time to raise taxes” – which, of course, leaves them an opening to raise taxes “later.”
Sorry, Charlie. But as long as politicians talk with forked tongues out of both sides of their mouths, I want their promises not to raise our taxes in writing.
Signatures in blood, however, remain optional.