LAS VEGAS -- Nevada's historic anti-tax attitude may be changing or at least maturing because of the state's budget crisis.
That's just one of the revelations in the Impact Nevada poll. Impact Nevada is a collaboration between 8 News NOW, Vegas PBS and the Review Journal and is dedicated to providing information on quality issues to Nevadans. There will be numerous polls featured this week showing how Nevadans feel about issues impacting the state.
This first poll is about priorities. What should be cut and what should be kept?
The poll numbers uncover a softening view on some taxes and a rigid hard line on others. There are simple truths about Nevadans. We like our houses and we hate our taxes. Unshakeable attitudes according to former Senator and Governor Richard Bryan.
"Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax the man behind the tree," said Bryan.
And new poll numbers show a mixed reaction to old opinions. Six hundred Nevadans were asked the best ways to balance the budget and the majority wants a mix of cuts and taxes.
Bryan says the reality of $3 billion in cuts is starting to sink in. "Certainly not within the memory of anyone alive today has the state ever faced a financial crisis as severe as we do."
But even mild support of taxes is a change in Nevada politics. Respondents were asked what they want to cut or change in funding, and most people said they would be willing to pay more fees and more taxes rather than take cuts to health and human services and education. But don't go after Nevada homeowners. Only a small fraction, a little more than five percent would be willing to pay higher property taxes. Most want to lower them as property values decline.
Looking deeper, the numbers actually show Nevadans would rather tax groceries, tax their paychecks, or even tax their auto repair rather than pay higher property taxes. It comes as no shock to Bryan.
"There's been a tremendous resistance historically to property taxes," he said. Bryan adds that gaming taxes have been the source of scorn and success. Live by the Strip, die by the Strip.
Nevadans polled have little sympathy for gaming; nearly 30 percent say to go after the state's largest industry for more money. Bryan says gaming has helped before.
"We've been able to historically shift a lot of that burden on tourists."
But the reason we are in the financial mess is because the tourists can't afford to come here. Now it doesn't seem the poll gives carte blanche to politicians to tax groceries or services. It simply shows people are willing to budge a little more when given options.