Even the mining industry has no readily available, credible justification for keeping the mining tax in the state constitution. At a Senate hearing Tuesday on a resolution to let voters strip mining of its unique, special, protected and sheltered constitutional status so that Nevada could tax the industry responsibly for a change, industry lobbyists announced that they were "neutral" on the issue. For now.
There are dozens -- or more specifically, hundreds of millions -- of reasons to take the mining tax out of the constitution. The arguments in favor of the resolution are self-evident. But I showed up at the hearing anyway, with charts, like this one:
As state Sen. Steven Horsford observed while pointing to the chart and gently asking Nevada mining lobbyists "WTF?" (or words to that effect), Wyoming isn't known for its wild-eyed liberalism.
Of course the Nevada Legislature can't enact federal mineral royalties (about half of which are returned to the state, by the way). That's for Harry Reid to never ever let happen. But Nevada could create a tax system that, for instance, imposes a state severance tax while also allowing counties to levy their own separate taxes on mineral production. And Nevada could create those taxes at rates reflecting a sober acknowledgement of Nevada's singular importance to the world's largest gold mining corporations and the industry's obligation to the state. That's stuff that Nevada can do. If the mining tax is taken out of the constitution.
So this is a job for Captain Obvious. Alas, changing the constitution takes a year or three. Good idea, no earthly excuse for the Legislature not to pass the resolution. Hop to it, chop-chop, etc. But it does nothing to stop a governor consumed with political ambition from permanantly damaging the state in exchange for applause from a roomful of the megawealthy's useful idiots, which is what's happening this year.
For the wonks amongst ye, a couple more charts: