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The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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This summer, the new governor of New Jersey, who won election by promising not to raise taxes, got darned upset when the Legislature in Trenton refused to enact his whopping new budget, just because it contained a bunch of, you know ... tax hikes.

So Gov. John Corzine “shut down the state government” till he got his way.

It was the familiar ploy: State troopers kept writing traffic tickets. State taxmen kept sending out threats of legal action to folks who hadn’t paid up. But for some reason -- while there was plenty of reason to keep THOSE bureaucrats in fuel and paper clips -- the governor had to close all the beaches and parks in the middle of summer. He even had to shut down Atlantic City’s casinos, claiming the state couldn’t afford to pay the handful of regulators who stand around watching the gambling palaces generate millions in state tax revenues.

It was an interesting object lesson to those who believe they can “buy off the devil” and prosper in the second-worst tax climate in the country. (Yes, New York still manages to be worse -- just slightly.)

The folks at the Nevada Development Authority certainly noticed, and thought perhaps they saw an opportunity. Earlier this month, the Authority launched a $100,000 advertising buy in three New Jersey newspapers and the Philadelphia Inquirer, which also circulates in southern New Jersey.

The ads show a smiling Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, tout Nevada’s low tax climate and the fact that “Our mayor is more fun than your governor,” and are headlined, “Las Vegas, always open for business.”

The idea is to woo away some of the high-paying biotech industries that call new Jersey home.

New Jersey loyalists reply it’s going to be hard to tear those entrepreneurs free of the mid-Atlantic states, with their existing concentrations of biotech labor and capital, and their long-established hospital and pharmaceutical infrastructure.

Nevada Development Authority president Somer Hollingsworth isn’t worried. Next week the authority will launch a direct-mail campaign targeting top management at 250 New Jersey biotech and life sciences companies. The Nevada boosters plan to feature testimonials from researchers who have moved here from Yale University, the University of Chicago, and other prestigious institutions to work at the new Nevada Cancer Institute. “We’ll have (institute researchers) tell recruits why they came from all over the world to Las Vegas,” Mr. Hollingsworth explains.

Good. America has prospered because Americans are free to abandon jurisdictions whose rulers believe the people are nothing but a captive dairy herd to be milked and milked. Competition is good, and I can’t think of a nicer guy to stand there in the billowing dust, watching the U-Haul trailers pull away, than New Jersey Gov. John “No New Taxes” Corzine.

Just one note of caution: Thanks to high sales and real estate and auto registration taxes -- and additional regressive levies piled on beer, cigarettes, bank branches, and anything else that moved as part of 2003’s largest tax hike in state history, Nevada is no longer the lowest-taxed state in the nation. Not even close.

Those wishing to place some modest limits on the growth of Nevada government and the taxes that fund it -- to keep us from falling into the same trap as New Jersey, in other words -- have proposed this year’s Nevada Tax and Spending Control initiative.

Last week, members of Nevada’s two largest parties chose their nominees for governor. Both oppose TASC.

If only Mr. Hollingsworth could arrange a trade: New Jersey could send us some of those well-heeled biotech employers. And, in exchange, we could bundle up and send them some of Nevada’s wannabe John Corzine politicians ...