Lawmakers Look Into Restructuring State's Taxes - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Lawmakers Look Into Restructuring State's Taxes

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Lawmakers are getting an early start on what they think is the best way to manage taxes and create revenue.

But there are very different ideas on what the best long-term options are. 

"I think by having these discussions, we're going to see what the available revenue is, out there, and what our needs are and how we can plan for these two years but knowing 10 years down the road, where we expect to be," Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick said.

Others say the way to create revenue, is to attract new business and create job growth.

"As business grows, so will our revenues," Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey said. "It's not just a matter of how we're going to tax more but how we're going to grow business and then, naturally, we'll have more revenues."

Nevada's revenue relies heavily on gaming taxes, making up 23.6% of the general fund second only to sales and use tax at 28.3%.

Democrats say it's a failing revenue system.

Republicans say we need to broaden the tax base.

"There are 45,000 businesses that are subject to modified business tax but based on the Governor's proposal, there's only 11,000 that would be paying that 100% of revenue that we have and I think that we have to have those discussions," Kirkpatrick said.

"It shouldn't be done in a vacuum and it shouldn't be done by lobbyists and lawmakers," Hickey said. "We should be listening to businesses' interests, who would be impacted if we change the way we tax in Nevada."

Governor Brian Sandoval's budget calls for $300 million more in spending.

Democrats say that number could be even higher with a different tax structure.

Education accounts for the biggest chunk of state spending at 37.5%.

After years of cuts, the governor's budget is calling for growth this time around.

"We've cut over a billion dollars in education over the last five years," Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis said. "Yet, only $50 million is being proposed of new money for education, this time. That's unacceptable."

"We're in a good starting place, at least that we're not talking about how much we're going to cut from education," Senate Assistant Minority Leader Ben Kieckhefer said. "We're talking about adding more money back into education."

Today, lawmakers looked at sunset taxes and mentioned about a dozen others, including the business margins tax, which would charge a 2% tax on businesses that make more than $1 million a year, raising about $800 million a year for education.

But many say it's unlikely to pass a two-thirds vote.

Written by Paul Nelson

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