Since March 1988, when we purchased the two year-old Nevada Business Journal magazine, we have been the voice of Nevada’s business community, speaking out against higher taxes and government regulations and warning voters about political dirty tricks. On the occasion of the magazine’s 20th anniversary, we reviewed some of the topics the magazine has covered in its Commentary pages and discovered a consistent pattern: every few years politicians would try the same tricks, and NBJ would jump in to defend business people. Here’s a quick summary:
In May 1988, our first commentary concerned an initiative petition supported by the Nevada State Education Association (teachers’ union). Their initiative would have imposed a corporate tax rate of 8 to 10 percent on for-profit corporations. Due to the diligence of the business community, this measure was defeated, but the urge to tax business profits never went away – it just went underground for awhile.
In 2002, another variation on this idea resurfaced, and we warned voters about proposed legislation that would tax businesses on their gross receipts. The business community was successful in heading off this measure, but because Gov. Guinn’s “experts” insisted the state was facing a massive budget shortfall, the 2003 Legislature did pass a business payroll tax and also a special tax on banks. We all know what happened to the massive budget shortfall – after it failed to materialize, the state had to scramble to find a way to refund taxpayers’ money.
A recurring theme over the years has been the need to pay attention to what’s happening in Carson City. An excerpt from the Feb. 2001 Commentary is worth repeating: “You may believe that your role as a citizen ends in the voting booth. Now that you have elected a slate of honest and well-meaning public servants, you can turn things over to them while you attend to your business and family. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Founding Fathers intended for this country to be a participatory democracy, and it is in everyone’s best interest to make sure that citizens take as active a role in lawmaking as they are able.”
Education reform has been a recurring theme over the years. Unfortunately, in 2006 the state’s educational system still receives failing grades. We have suggested merit pay for teachers, making school vouchers available to parents so they can break the current educational monopoly, and making administrators and teachers accountable for their students’ performance. Maybe people are waiting for a true crisis before they take action on education reform. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the crisis seems to be on the immediate horizon, so there is hope that reforms will be approved soon.
Eminent domain made headlines just a few months ago on the national scene, but NBJ was warning readers about this issue years ago. Our August 2005 Commentary, written in response to the latest eminent domain outrage, was surprisingly similar to one that ran nearly 10 years earlier in which we asked, “If they’re allowed to take property from an individual and give it to business for overall good of the public, what’s to stop them from taking my home next?” The question remains to be answered.
We have discussed the pros and cons of various ballot measures over the years, including Question 2 (the Protection of Marriage Act), as well as the current initiatives to cap property taxes and control government spending (TASC – Tax And Spending Control For Nevada). We have consulted with experts and made recommendations of what would be best for the business community and the state as a whole.
We’ve also kept an eye on our elected officials, including Sen. Harry Reid, who was elected to represent Nevada in the same year the magazine was founded. We were there in 1995 when Reid voted against the balanced budget amendment, despite the overwhelming support the bill had among Nevada voters. And we are still here, now that he is the Senate Minority Leader, reminding him that his primary duty is to represent Nevada.
As the years went on, we commented on national events. In 1998, we detailed the reasons Bill Clinton deserved to be impeached, and in 2001 we joined the nation in mourning the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and looked for lessons that could be learned from this tragedy.
We’ll continue to be the eyes and ears of the business community and to keep you informed of issues that affect your bottom line and your future. Here’s to the next 20 years!