Nevada is soon to vote on whether to tax big business to raise more money for public schools. The state’s public schools are among the worst funded systems in the nation. Big business is pulling out all the stops to kill the Initiative. They warn that it will kill the economy and jobs.
Columnist Steve Sebelius here explores why the state’s business community is so frightened by the Initiative, why they are trying so hard to block it.
“There may be a good reason the elites of the Nevada business community are so vehemently campaigning against The Education Initiative.
“But it’s not what you think.
“There’s certainly a reason you’re seeing billboards, TV ads, mail pieces and spokespeople endlessly parroting the line that The Education Initiative is a “deeply flawed,” “job-killing” tax that will cost the state business.
“But what if it’s not the shortcomings of the tax that’s behind the anti-tax campaign?
“What if there’s another reason the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Nevada Resort Association, the Nevada Mining Association and their allies of convenience in organized labor fear and hate this tax?
“What if they hate it not because of its flaws (and there are a few) but because of its successes?
“The Nevada State Education Association actually succeeded in writing a tax that the corporate elite of Nevada tried and failed to stop in court.
“The teachers union had the unmitigated gall to succeed in gathering more than the required number of signatures in the various congressional districts of Nevada. And they went on to boldly champion the measure in the Legislature as lawmakers (especially Democrats) uncomfortably squirmed in their seats.
“And now, having survived court challenges, legislative indifference and a campaign of more than $2 million spent against it, the voters are about to have their say on Question 3.
“Could that be what Nevada’s corporate elite despises about The Education Initiative most of all?
“The Nevada Legislature was long ago captured by the commercial interests that run the state — first mining, then railroads, then gambling, land development and general business. The cumbersome, Balkanized legislative process makes it easy to kill bills, especially with a majority of friendly lawmakers from both parties on your side.
“The courts are a less certain prospect (after all, judges failed to stop the petition from going forward). But Nevada’s courts are generally quite friendly to business.
“The executive branch? Gov. Brian Sandoval — who now pledges an earnest effort to reform the state’s tax system in 2015, predicting success where his predecessors have failed — is not exactly an independent. He’s come out squarely against The Education Initiative from the start.
“But direct democracy? The people themselves? Well, that’s a frightening prospect for Nevada’s corporate elite, because the people are, at the very least, unpredictable.”
Imagine that! Business elites bought every elected official, but they haven’t figured out yet how to buy the public. Let’s see if all that advertising and TV manages to persuade the public to vote against the interests of their own children.