(Victor Joecks, Las Vegas Review-Journal) – Legislators have been skirting the Nevada Constitution to pass tax increases for 20 years, and it’s time to expose their scheme.
They’re violating the Gibbons’ Tax Restraint Initiative, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that requires the support of two-thirds of lawmakers (or a majority vote of the people) on any bill that “creates, generates, or increases any public revenue.”
Nevada’s local governments already can’t raise taxes unless the Legislature approves first. That should provide state taxpayers with a double firewall against local tax increases.
But big government worked out an end-around. After the initiative went into effect in 1996, the Legislative Counsel Bureau, which provides legal advice to legislators, argued that if politicians punted their authority to a local government board on a particular tax, the bill wouldn’t require two-thirds support.
That opinion provided lawmakers with political cover that allows them to claim they aren’t voting for a tax increase. Because of that cover, many of these tax-authorization measures end up receiving two-thirds approval anyway. But some bills, including SB119 and SB207, which in 2015 authorized the Clark County School District’s current bond campaign, didn’t receive two-thirds approval and went into effect anyway.