(Robert Uithoven/Keystone Corporation) – Last week, after a recent poll on the Nevada budget situation was provided to media outlets across the state, headlines screamed that Nevadans want higher taxes over continued budget reductions and government consolidation. Liberal special interest groups, pundits and politicians jumped at the opportunity to assert that lawmakers have no choice but to raise taxes, and that our conservative governor is wrong on his firm opposition to further tax hikes.
However, a closer examination of the numbers paints a different story. Those seeking to advance the narrative that the struggling private sector must pay more to fund government would prefer that these numbers remain hidden from Nevada taxpayers.
For instance, while the poll does show that voters (42 percent being Democrats, 36 percent being Republican and the rest being Independent or other third party voters) would prefer tax increases over budget cuts by a 52 to 37 margin – the question is asked in a way that details where cuts will be made – citing education and health care, but without citing who will pay the higher taxes, or what the impact will be on the private sector if/when demanded to pay the government more. When such details are provided later in the poll, the results change.
For example, by a 61 to 37 margin, those polled say that tax hikes will cost further jobs in Nevada. Over half of those polled believe tax hikes will damage economic diversification. In addition, 56 percent polled suggest further cuts can be found, while 40 percent say additional cuts will hurt existing programs too much. And finally, when asked to consider Governor Brian Sandoval’s budget (which is a balanced budget without new or higher taxes), 52 percent of those polled say further cuts are needed while 44 percent say the budget is already cut too much. These numbers represent significant margins that favor the Governor’s position on taxes and spending.
There is other good news for our conservative Governor in the poll. Voters give him a 12-percent higher positive rating than they give legislators (47 to 35), and they give their legislators a 10 percent higher negative rating than they give the Governor (36 to 26). Also, when those polled are asked who better understands and relates to the troubles Nevadans face between the Governor and the legislators, voters overwhelmingly choose Governor Sandoval (53 percent siding with the Governor as opposed to the 31 percent siding with legislators … a convincing 22-percent margin).
Finally, Democrats in Carson City are hoping to raise taxes under the agenda of “reforming” our current tax code. They believe they will have greater success in passing massive new and higher taxes by convincing voters that our tax code is old, antiquated and failing to meet today’s needs. If the Democrats believe in some magical tax code that is recession-proof, they should have the courage to show their plans to the voters and taxpayers of Nevada. In the meantime, it is worth noting that the Nevadans polled (again, a majority of respondents being Democrats) are about evenly split on the question of a tax code overhaul (48 percent in favor with 46 percent opposed).
The other group most vocally pushing for higher taxes in Carson City is the higher education establishment. Again, it is worth noting that the numbers do not back up their claim that higher taxes are needed to save the Nevada System of Higher Education. A majority of those polled (53 percent) believe we need either tuition hikes and budget cuts (or a combination of both) – over those who suggest we need higher taxes to fund higher education (36 percent).
So, while some may have come away with the idea that Nevadans are craving tax hikes this legislative session, you can see that the initial headlines from last week don’t truly reflect the will of the voters. Oh, and while we are hard at work countering the public employee unions’ aggressive push for higher taxes, it should be noted that by a nearly 20-percent margin, Nevada voters support the Governor’s call to reduce government salaries to help balance the budget (57 to 39).
We just thought you should know ….