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January 28, 2015

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J. Patrick Coolican:

Why Nevada Democrats’ Fun Tax is the New Coke of politics

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

The Mini-Golf Tax. The “Iron Man” Tax. The Burning Man Tax. I’m pretty sure most Nevadans enjoy one or more of those activities, which means if Democrats in the Legislature pass their new Nevada Entertainment and Admissions Tax, every Nevadan will curse them when they try to enjoy themselves on the weekend after a long workweek.

Wow, this is stupid. So, instead of imposing a corporate tax on Wal-Mart like nearly every other state in the country, you’re going to tax me when I go to the movie theater?

So I’ll pay $11.88 instead of $11? I love carrying 12 cents in my pocket.

Democrats: The party of stay home and watch bad TV.

The Buzzkill Party.

You know who else tacks on irritating fees when I buy tickets to my favorite events? Ticketmaster.

Way to go, Democrats. You’re the Ticketmaster Party.

As a smart lobbyist wrote to me in an email, “If I’m a movie theater, I’m going to post a sign on the ticket window that says the state of Nevada requires us to collect an extra 8 percent, with the legislative hotline number in big type. And if I’m a Republican candidate, I will hand out my fliers in the parking lot of the mini-golf.”

How did we get to this point?

Democrats want to come up with $350 million for education, most importantly for English-language learners, who are struggling badly here in Clark County.

OK, I can go along with that, and I’m pretty sure a fairly healthy margin of Nevadans agree.

Democrats need Republican votes to cross the necessary two-thirds threshold to get there. Ordinarily, that’d be impossible, as Republicans like tax hikes like they like San Francisco libruls.

But Dems have some leverage because the teachers union managed to qualify a 2014 ballot initiative for a 2 percent margins tax on business. Republicans and their business allies hate it, so they might be willing to strike a deal with Democrats to upend the education initiative, which otherwise has a good shot at passing.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson has pushed for a tax hike on the mining industry, which is busy taking a nonrenewable resource out of the ground in one of the friendliest tax environments in the world and sending the profits to Denver and Toronto, where Newmont and Barrick, the two big mining firms, reside.

But there’s no indication Democrats are dealing with Roberson, out of piquancy or distrust or whatever. Or maybe all that campaign money Democrats take from mining has clouded their judgment.

Short of a Roberson deal, what have they been doing up there? They’ve futzed around for nearly 100 days of the session with nothing to show for it. Where’s a broad-based business tax that will finally start forcing out-of-state multinational corporations to pay the freight? Where’s your own mining tax plan? Do they not get that people in Southern Nevada don’t give a damn about mining companies and would happily tax corporations for education, just like nearly every other state?

Oh, there might be some of that, according to the leaks coming out of Carson City. (It’s neither here nor there, but these Democrats have the communications acumen of the gun lobby. A day after they drop the "Great Gatsby" Tax, the state party has a petition on its website for tax breaks for movie productions in Nevada, with Nicolas Cage as its public face. So, you’re going to give tax breaks so Nic Cage can make terrible movies in Nevada, and then if I make the poor decision to see that movie, you’re going to tax me on it? It’s like they’re rolling out New Coke. They look like amateur ticket scalpers trying to dump a 51s ticket on a homeless man in the third inning.)

For whatever else is in the still-nonexistent tax plan, the centerpiece, the one tax Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick seems most enamored with, is the Fun Fee, the Joy Levy.

No more bread and circuses for us. Just bread.

There she is on “Ralston Reports” telling me that I’m willing to pay more for my movies to pay for education. There's already a live entertainment tax, but in the name of eliminating "loopholes," like movies, Kirkpatrick would tax a bunch of amusements that are now blessedly tax free.

Imagine the Republican play here: We wanted to tax out-of-state mining companies that are taking billions of dollars out of Nevada. Democrats, on the other hand, decided to tax your night out.

Water parks, wine tastings, ballgames, ski lift tickets. If this were to pass, every time Nevadans are confronted with the new tax at their favorite event, they’ll grimace, and they’ll think of one thing: Democrats.

Why not go whole hog and tax mom and apple pie?

Kirkpatrick prides herself on her policy chops. Well, guess what: The policy is just as bad as the politics.

The problem with Nevada’s tax system isn’t that middle-class families aren’t paying enough for their rare night out to see a show or a movie.

We have one of the most regressive tax systems in the country — those in the poorest 20 percent of the population pay 8.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes while the richest 1 percent pay just 1.6 percent in taxes.

(Which reminds me of my favorite joke: “The Aristocrats.” I would tell it to you, but first you have to hand over the Nevada Live Laughter Tax.)

And now we’re gonna increase the cost of entertainment, sports and culture 8 percent on poor and middle-class families who can barely afford it as is?

I’d like to think it’s an intentional flop, thereby running out the clock so the voters can impose the margins tax in 2014.

Like “The Producers”!

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  1. Another "value added" tax to teach English to Hispanics who maybe illegals. There was a time
    where immigrants had to learn English as that
    was the only language used to teach in our schools.
    There is little doubt that Congress's plans to
    grant millions of illegals will cost us trillions
    more. We spend more on education than any other country does and our children seems to be getting dumber and dumber. Dems are addicted to more and more taxes and foolish spending. As long as we keep electing Dem politicians, the cycle of tax and spend will go on and on.

  2. The current Entertainment Tax is more holes than it is cheese. It was cobbled together with other taxes a few years back to avoid imposing a general business tax. And, in an old Nevada tradition, it was designed to snatch as much revenue as possible from non-residents of the State.

    The Legislature continues to try to avoid a broad-based business tax by making repairs to the Swiss Cheese, but in the process will rope in more Nevadans to pay it. That's not in keeping with our traditions!

  3. I'm a Democrat and I believe this has to be the MOST stupid bill I've ever heard of...

  4. In another ode to the 'path of least resistance'...

    Since those that can least afford it ALSO have the least to say about it
    and considering the 'Big 2' pinch their public nickels til' the proverbial Buffalo craps,
    in desperation to come up with a revenue stream, the mopes in Carson City have sinfully cobbled together this...FLEECING...of the common foke,
    being far to COWED by the powers-that-be of the state's Gilded Goliath's and their Henchmen,
    dem' Dem's have apparently decided, as always, to put the onus on the backsides of the usual suspects; ewe & eye.

  5. Why must we pay to teach other countries citizens English.. at such a great cost to ourselves?

    Where can a Nevadan sign up to get all of the same parallel FREE SERVICES in Spanish speaking countries?

  6. Hey Paul Rupp. Most of these CHILDREN are American citizens.

  7. Paul Rupp,
    The non whites that don't speak English are not provided services to learn English, even though over 80% are U.S. citizens. Over 90% of the children are U.S. citizens, U.S. BIRTH CERTIFICATES and all, and the state of Nevada provides them with zero dollars in services to focus on learning English as a second language. Yep, ZERO. They aren't leaving so you better figure out how to deflate that ego.

  8. J. Patrick Coolican-
    "OK, I can go along with that, and I'm pretty sure a fairly healthy margin of Nevadans agree".

    I disagree, then again I'm a citizen who hasn't dropped any anchor babies...
    Sebring-"zero dollars in services". you mean except for police protection school buildings teachers busses infrastructure and skewing the demographics of congressional districts?

  9. Mr. Coolican,

    I hope the taxes you mention pass and even more like them are piled on. Here's why. The public, here and elsewhere are clueless as to how much in taxes they actually pay? Why? Because the government cleverly 'hides' them in numerous ways. The public is also clueless to the fact that a great deal of their taxes are very poorly allocated, spending is rife with fraud and duplication and the public never punishes legislators for their poor performance. Maybe, if more taxes are 'pasted' directly on the foreheads of the public, instead of 'stealthily' attached to them, they will get angry enough to kick some butt. I doubt it but I can dream....


  10. There is so much disparity between the "haves" and "have nots" anymore, that even IF folks notice the taxes they are truly paying, even now, in the forms of the higher costs of products: groceries, fuel, consumable goods, insurance, and utilities, what difference would it make, when the majority do little caring or effectively vocalizing about it? We all are hostages of politics. We are defeated by the great political machinations of this country, turned corporate, and have become their much, get little, pay much, to those who hardly deserve it.

    Welcome to Nevada, America, folks! Blinders on or not, we all have been had.

    Until those who are oppressed get mad enough to do something about it, the "status quo" will remain. Lawmakers everywhere will serve their "true masters" faithfully, all the while smiling and waving to the parade of hostages in the crowds.

    Remember the song from "West Side Story" that goes, "I like to be in America..."? Keep those border gates wide open, big government and big business command. Competition is healthy, they say, you know....


  11. Liberals are fleeing California because of the OPPRESSIVE taxation and coming to Nevada, then voting for the Democrats who love to raise taxes. If you don't like high taxes, quit voting Democrat, or stay in California.