Sunday, June 7, 2009 | 2:06 a.m.
Since the Legislature passed a $781 million tax increase, which was necessary to stave off massive cuts in government services, Gov. Jim Gibbons has been leading a one-man anti-government crusade.
Gibbons has blasted “liberals” and anyone who voted for the tax increase, including some of the more conservative members of the Legislature. He has also made increasingly dire predictions about the effect of the tax increases, which he called “devastating,” “job-killing” and “economy crushing.”
In yet more hyperbole, Gibbons told the Legislature that he was “convinced” the budget will “prolong the economic recession in Nevada and will dissuade employers from retaining current employees today and hiring new employees tomorrow.”
Gibbons’ rhetoric has no basis in fact or history. Lawmakers approved major tax increases in 1991 and 2003. Both times the critics on the far right bitterly complained about how the increases would crush the state’s economy and lead employers to cut jobs. Yet both times the state flourished economically.
Disregarding the facts, Gibbons is attempting to position himself for reelection in 2010, which will be a difficult feat. His support has vanished as Nevadans have witnessed his stunning incompetence in office. Still, he is hoping he can rally conservatives and repeat the campaign of 2006, during which he pulled out a victory by painting his opponent as a tax-and-spend liberal.
The tax increase is merely a campaign issue to Gibbons. He has no positive vision for the state. Instead of responsibly addressing a huge budget shortfall, Gibbons proposed gutting education and many other government services. The budget the Legislature passed uses incremental tax increases to protect vital services.
The business lobby, which understands the need for roads and schools, was behind the Legislature’s plan. Nevada still has one of the lowest per-capita tax burdens in the United States, yet Gibbons still calls taxes here “oppressive.”
We believe Nevadans see through Gibbons’ disingenuous tactics. Gibbons is spreading fear instead of facts in an effort to win votes. That is disgraceful.