Most Nevada lawmakers receive low marks for 2011 Legislative Session
LAS VEGAS — Just over one-third of Nevada's lawmakers compiled voting records that were generally friendly to Silver State taxpayers during the 2011 Legislative Session, a new report from the Nevada Policy Research Institute finds.
The report, titled The 2011 Nevada Legislative Session: Review & Report Card, also includes a detailed review of the session, documenting the events that culminated in Gov. Brian Sandoval and four Senate Republicans breaking their no-new-tax pledge and agreeing to extend a number of "sunset" taxes in exchange for minor reforms in education and to the Public Employees' Retirement System.
The report's author, Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy director of policy at NPRI, based his analysis on the ranking system that the National Taxpayers Union uses to rate members of Congress. The rankings are based on a scale of zero through 100, with the high end of the scale indicating a greater commitment to keeping taxes low, limiting the growth of government and implementing sound education reforms. Legislators who score above 50 are generally considered allies of economic liberty.
Only 22 of the 63 members of the Legislature earned scores above 50 percent. Sen. Don Gustavson, a Republican, earned the distinction of "taxpayer's best friend" with a score of 89.1 percent, while Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, a Democrat, had the lowest score at 26.52 percent.
"While it's unfortunate that many legislators disregarded the interests of taxpayers during the session, it's encouraging that the number of taxpayer-friendly legislators grew from 11 in 2009 to 22 in 2011," said Lawrence. "Given Nevada's economic challenges and the negative impact of the record-breaking tax increases passed in 2009, it was good to see Nevada's lawmakers become more concerned about taxpayers' concerns.
"Improvement is not enough, however. Citizens will still be impacted negatively by the significant tax increase approved by lawmakers this year. Many of the reforms ‘traded' for taxes are either minor or written so narrowly, as in the case of collective bargaining reforms, that they apply to almost no one. Some of the best reforms lawmakers approved — removing the cap on empowerment schools and performance-based budgeting, for instance — passed on their own merits.
"The 22 legislators who did earn high scores in this analysis ought to be applauded for their commitment to sound fiscal and education policies," added Lawrence. "Nevadans would benefit if the 2013 Legislature as a whole would follow the lead of these 22 individuals."