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July 7, 2015

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State committees still talking taxes, in so many words

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It is the word that shall not be spoken in the current political environment — starts with T, rhymes with “max” and is life’s other unavoidable reality, besides death.

Enter the euphemism.

After decades — since at least since 1963, according to one longtime Nevada Capitol observer — the Senate Taxation Committee has a new name, the “Revenue Committee.”

The change shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the anti-tax fervor this election cycle.

The Democrat running for governor, Rory Reid, tried to convince voters he was more opposed to tax increases than Republican Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval, who also assured voters he won’t support taxes to balance the budget.

Longtime state Senate Republican icon Bill Raggio, R-Reno, lost his leadership position last week. The catalyst may have been his support of Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but he had also supported taxes in the past, and said (as had other Democratic and Republican leaders) that the sunset on taxes passed in 2009 would have to be extended to preserve “essential services.”

Perhaps the only surprise is the committee’s name wasn’t changed earlier. Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, chairwoman of the new Senate Revenue Committee, said “words are freighted with meaning.”

“Revenue takes the focus off the negative ‘taxation’ word,” she said. “We need to ensure this state has sufficient revenue to meet the needs of the state. It can come from taxes. It can come in the form of fees, grants and aid from the federal government. Not just taxes.”

Something similar is afoot in the Assembly.

Speaker John Oceguera wouldn’t reveal the name of the lower house panel previously known as the Taxation Committee. All he would say is that it won’t be called “tax” or “revenue.”

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