It’s amazing how willing many politicians are to run away from their own record once an election nears. Consider Gov. Steve Sisolak.
“It’s Tax Day, so thought it was a good time to remind you: Since I’ve been governor, we haven’t raised one penny of new taxes on the people of Nevada,” he tweeted recently. “Not. One. Penny.”
This wasn’t the first time he made that claim.
“Since I’ve been governor, we have not raised one penny of new taxes on the people of Nevada, not one penny,” he said during this year’s unofficial State of the State address.
It sounds nice, but there’s one slight problem. It’s not true.
In 2019, Mr. Sisolak signed a bill extending the rate of the modified business tax that was set to decline. He also signed another piece of legislation that extended a DMV fee that was scheduled to sunset. Combined those bills were projected to raise more than $100 million in revenue for state government.
Neither of those bills received two-thirds approval in the state Senate. The Nevada Constitution requires two-thirds approval in both houses to pass bills that increase revenue.
Senate Republicans sued, but that didn’t stop the tax measures from going into effect. Nearly two years later, the Nevada Supreme Court agreed that the bills had been illegally passed.
“Because both bills create, generate or increase public revenue such that the plain language of the supermajority provision applies, the district court correctly determined they were unconstitutionally passed in the Senate with less than a supermajority vote,” then-Chief Justice James Hardesty wrote for the court.
The court’s decision was correct and forced the state to repay those illegally collected taxes. That doesn’t change the fact that the governor tried to make taxes higher on the people of Nevada than they otherwise would have been.
But Gov. Sisolak raised taxes again in 2021, signing a bill hiking the mining tax by hundreds of millions of dollars. At the time, he bragged, “This money will benefit every educator, every student and every family.” Now, he wants to pretend it didn’t happen.
Perhaps the governor’s defenders will claim there’s a distinction between taxing businesses and taxing the people of Nevada. But businesses aren’t magical money trees from which politicians can shake hundreds of millions of dollars without influencing the broader economy. Higher taxes on those who do business in the state will eventually be passed on to residents. When Sisolak raised taxes, he generated additional government revenue from “the people of Nevada.”
To claim otherwise is sheer duplicity.