All signs point to a tough 2011 for Nevada taxpayers. As if the nation's highest unemployment rate and roughly $1 billion in tax increases a year ago weren't enough. Looking to next year, with an estimated $3 billion overspending problem in the 2011 budget, lawmakers in both parties are falling in line in support of a smorgasbord of job-killing tax hikes. And they're all using some version of a favorite big government euphemism – "revenue enhancement" – to vaguely make their case.

Senate Republican Leader Bill Raggio has called for an "infusion of revenue" in 2011. Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford has stated his case for around $1.5 billion in "more revenue" for state government. And Assembly Republican Leader Pete Goicoechea wants "revenue increases" approaching $1 billion, mostly from expanding the sales tax to food and services.

Translation: These "leaders" want to raise taxes in the middle of a recession that is showing no signs of letting up in Nevada. It's that simple. 

Notice that two of the three lawmakers listed above are Republicans – the purported party of small government and fiscal restraint. The last thing the GOP needs is big government tax-and-spenders to be the face of the party and ruin the brand. This is precisely what happened during the George W. Bush presidency, preciptating Republican devastation at the polls in 2006 and 2008.

Republicans are within striking distance of taking the Nevada Senate and achieving the supermajority necessary to prevent tax increases in the House. But does it really matter? If leadership will refuse to govern (read: make difficult but principled decisions during periods of strife) and instead resort to propping up unsustainable budgets with more taxpayer dollars, what will change under a Republican majority?

None of the tax hikers listed above have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a strong metric for determining whether a candidate or elected official has the intestinal fortitude to make difficult decisions and put taxpayers first. Neither have either gubernatorial candidate, though they have made repeated promises to veto all tax increases. Rather than look to party affiliation, voters would be wise to consider whether 2010 candidates have signed the Pledge, and put this important commitment to constituents in writing.

Otherwise, it will be a repeat of the last Raggio-sanctioned tax hike, only bigger.