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Nevada

Nevada 2013 Progressive State of the State Address this Wednesday

Sheila_LeslieOne week before Governor Brian Sandoval delivers his State of the State address, ProgressNow Nevada and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada will present their own Progressive State of the State address to highlight the realities faced by Nevada’s families and their recommendations for a path forward.

Time and Location: Wednesday, January 9th, 6PM in the PLAN / ProgressNow Nevada office (708 South 6th Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101) Click here for Facebook event page

You can also view the speech live from PLAN’s Ustream channel here

Former state Sen. Sheila Leslie will be giving the address.  She recently appeared on radio and television programs to discuss the upcoming speech and the top progressive issue:  tax reform.  She insisted that Nevada really can’t expect to see improvements in education, social services or public safety without tax reform.  These programs have been drastically cut over the past five years. 

In her radio interview with Dave Becker on KNPR’s State of Nevada, Sheila Leslie mentioned the gross inequities of the tax burden in the state, citing to the fact that the poorest Nevadans pay up to 10% of their incomes in taxes, while the wealthiest pay only 1%.  She also mentioned the fact that Nevada is only one of three states in the nation where corporations don’t pay any taxes, apart from a negligible “modified business tax” which is really a small payroll tax that acts as a disincentive for businesses to hire people. 

One of the challenges facing real tax reform in Nevada is lack of political leadership.  Right now Governor Sandoval is only talking about extending the taxes which are set to expire at the end of the year.  Extending the sun setting taxes will only maintain the status quo.

Sheila Leslie was also less than thrilled with Democratic leadership on the issue, though she understands exactly why this is the reality.  Until we can remove the influence the big money donors have over our legislators and elected officials, Leslie said she isn’t very hopeful that these needed changes will happen.  Consequently, she’ll be making the need for public financing of campaigns a key point in her address tomorrow.

Las Vegas Sun’s David McGrath Schwartz isn’t hopeful either that real tax reform is a reality in 2013. 

“Less than a month before the Legislature meets, Democratic leaders are once again approaching the tax issue cautiously, creating a mushy contour for a tax debate that has stretched more than a decade. It also suggests the 2013 legislative session on taxes will be dictated largely by the policies set by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. 

Sandoval has been clear on taxes. He will extend some or all of the 2009 temporary tax increase — worth about $620 million for the state. But he won’t support any further tax increase. It’s a position echoed by many Republican lawmakers. 

Democrats, meanwhile, say they want to extend the full 2009 tax increase. But in interviews with the Sun, they hedged on whether they would seek to increase taxes beyond that, even as they suggested the state wasn’t spending enough on education.”

Despite the grim political realities, Sheila Leslie said it best that we need to raise awareness of the need for not only tax reform but also campaign finance reform among the public.  We may not be able to change the short term dynamics, but in the long run we need these reforms.  We have to get the public to demand it, otherwise nothing is likely to change under our current system.

About Justin McAffee:
Justin is the publisher The Nevada View, which has earned the recognition in the Washington Post’s “Best State-Based Political Blogs,” as well as being awarded the “Most Valuable Blogger Award” by the local CBS affiliate in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @McAffee

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