Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Column 32: Nevada Tax Rebate

The amazing thing about the current (and hopefully temporary) ascension of the right wing to power is their capacity to believe that the more they trumpet their version of what others are doing wrong, the less people will notice what they are doing. This goes a long way toward explaining inconsistencies such as those we saw in the Terry Schiavo debate and the Iraq WMD debacle.
Jim Clark proposes the creation of a hymn to the greatness of Governor Guinn (and by the way, Jim, “America” is set to the tune of “God Save the Queen,” not the other way around) and castigates Assembly Democrats for wanting to use the surplus that resulted from the Governor’s overtaxing policy to improve education in the state. He accuses the Democrats of “spin” for fighting a fight he thinks they cannot win.
Well, let’s talk about spin. Jim is quick to cite the statistic that Nevada moved from 25th to 22nd highest state in per capita taxation, but he conveniently ignores that Nevada is 48th highest in per student spending on education. Jim loves to heap scorn on Democrats, but what they are proposing is to use a tax surplus – money that we have already paid and learned to live without – to give our teachers and public employees more than the miserly 2% raise that Governor Guinn put in his budget and to fund the Millennium Scholarship at a level beyond what State Treasurer Krolicki was able to eke out without tax money. Is that so bad?
Would you be satisfied with a 2% increase in your pay next year? By way of a reference point, the current cost of living adjustment for Social Security is 2.7%, so what the Gov is proposing as a raise for teachers and public employees is less than the increase in the cost of living. According to Jim, the “costly social program” being proposed by those “arrogant democrats” is a 5% increase. Why, we’ll see teachers squirreling away these riches and then leaving in droves, those money-hungry wretches! No, better to look to the Republican administration in Washington and piously mouth pro-education platitudes while passing unfunded mandates on to the states, secure in the knowledge that like-minded governors will ignore the need for funding them, preferring to dress the Republican Party in a red suit and give money back to buy votes.
The population of Nevada is 2.3 million people. If the budget surplus of $300 million were distributed equally it would amount to about $130 for every man, woman, and child in the state or about 2 tankfuls of Bush Administration gasoline. Now I know that, for many people in the state a windfall of three or four hundred dollars to their family would be welcome, but for any family making enough money to have paid taxes, it wouldn’t make that much difference – surely not as much as the difference that putting that $300 million to work in our overburdened schools, paying some of the $300 million to give our overworked and underpaid teachers a raise beyond what would immediately be eaten up by the increase in the cost of living, and helping families that need assistance to sent their kids to college would make.
Right-wing radio “personalities” love to scream about the leftist media while never mentioning that the airwaves are dominated by conservatives. This President has made an art of waving his right hand (the social security non-crisis) to draw attention away from what his left hand ($84 million for Iraq, the nuclear option in the Senate, the appointment of John “Gepetto” Bolton to the UN) is doing. And now Governor Guinn wants to dazzle us with a rebate so that we don’t notice him undercutting honest attempts to pull Nevada out of the educational quagmire we have been in for years.
It really amazes me how stupid the conservatives think people are (except, of course, for other conservatives) and how they think they can pull the wool over people’s eyes again and again. It’s time we stood up and said no and took back our government from the plutocrats and right-wing fundamentalists.

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