Nevada Governor Moves to Political Center on Taxes

By: - March 14, 2012 12:00 am

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican who was elected in 2010 on a tough no-tax platform , was labeled a flip-flopper last year when he decided to extend a series of temporary tax increases that he previously vowed to let expire. The decision, a last-minute maneuver to balance a difficult state budget, “is a clear violation of his no-tax policy, ” a spokesman for a conservative think tank in Nevada complained to Stateline at the time .

But if Sandoval faced a political backlash in some circles over the extended taxes, he does not appear to regret his decision. On Tuesday (March 13), he announced that he wants to extend those same tax increases again in his next state budget, the Las Vegas Sun reports . Sandoval is framing the move as a way to avoid new taxes and to preserve funding for K-12 education.

“In addition to avoiding further cuts to education, this decision means there will be no need for tax increases in the next session, ” the governor said in a statement. “Nevadans will pay no more than they are in the current biennium.”

The levies in question, approved by state lawmakers in 2009, raised sales, payroll and car registration taxes.

In an analysis of the decision , the Sun says Sandoval is “on a trajectory toward the political center, with Nevada Republicans hoping that a more moderate approach to the budget will help them win a majority in the state Senate, which Democrats control by a single vote. Some Senate Republicans who voted against the extension of the tax hikes last year immediately announced support for the governor’s plan, underscoring the different approach that the party appears to be taking in an effort to appeal to the political middle.

“Governor Sandoval has outlined a prudent and fiscally responsible preliminary budget framework,” said Michael Roberson, the Senate Republican leader who previously rejected the extension, in a statement on Tuesday. “I am grateful for his tremendous leadership. I will stand with him and support him.”

As Stateline recently reported , temporary tax increases often are not temporary at all, with state lawmakers regularly choosing to extend them when they need more revenue.

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