Tax debate could use fresh air

Hypoxia, the doctors tell us, is a potentially serious condition that occurs when areas of the body are denied sufficient oxygen.

Perhaps that’s what we’re seeing in Carson City.

The governor’s plan to raise $1.1 billion from new and extended “sunset” taxes has sucked all the oxygen out of the session and left everybody with a colossal headache.

It would explain a lot.

Just a few weeks ago, the rhetoric was bipartisan and inclusive. This was to be the moment for a far-reaching overhaul of the state’s byzantine and underperforming tax structure. Everything is on the table.

Then came the explanation that the expansion of the sales tax to services — an approach advanced in a thoughtful think tank study commissioned by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce — was too complex to warrant a serious look. Other states had found flaws in the scheme.

Ladies and gentlemen, focus on the shiny object over here — the governor’s business tax based on gross receipts. It’s a great idea that Texas has used. Never mind that the Texas Legislature is considering repealing its version because it opened a sinkhole that swallowed small businesses.

Then the governor went ballistic when another report, this one less officially tied to the chamber, ripped the business license plan.

All the while, Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, was busily marching the finance committee through hearing after hearing on alternative ideas. None caused him to waver in his support of the governor’s plan. He’s a man on a mission and a man with a bright future.

But clearly this decision lies with the Assembly, which seems in need of a cat herder.

There’s room for well-intentioned people to come to different conclusions on the best way to fund what all seem to agree is a pressing need for an improved education system.

But we’ll all have a better chance of surviving this session if somebody opens the window and lets some fresh air in.

Let’s all take a deep breath and get back to the complex task of finding an answer that won‘t need another top to bottom tax overhaul next session.

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