Both Sides of the Debate on Education Funding in Nevada - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Both Sides of the Debate on Education Funding in Nevada

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With a little more than three weeks left in the 77th Legislative session, things are heating up down in Carson City. One of the biggest issues still on the table is funding for education.

Monday morning, Senate democrats announced their newest plan to fund K through 12 education. They're calling for an increase in the modified business tax. It would be a short-term fix that democrats say will generate $255 million over the next two years. "The number one thing that we've heard from every one of our constituents is to help our education system," Senate majority leader Mo Dennis told us Monday.

A modified business tax increase would change the current rate of 1.17% to 1.5% for the next two years. The mining industry would see its rate go to 2% and businesses making less than $62,500 per quarter would be exempt.

"We've said all session that we needed to do something today, and not two years down the road, that we don't know what's going to happen two years down the road," Senator Dennis told us. But getting two-thirds majority vote could be difficult with most republicans opposing a business tax increase. "The majority party has once again waited until the last possible minute to reveal their plan to impose job-killing, yes job-killing taxes upon Nevada families and businesses," minority leader Senator Michael Roberson told us.

Governor Sandoval also announced his opposition, saying the state is growing out of the recession and raising taxes on business would jeopardize growth.

Democrats say the plan would phase out in 2015 and argue that the proposed increase is modest and will have very little impact on the business community. "They have been supportive and they are the ones that gave us the idea in moving forward," Senator Dennis said.

While democrats say this plan would raise more than a quarter billion dollars in revenue, republicans say economic growth will bring in the revenue -- estimating 7.5% growth in the next two years. "You're going to see a significantly larger state budget in the upcoming biennium than the current one under our current tax structure and I think we need to stick with that," says republican Senator Ben Kieckhefer.

Another big education bill for Washoe County, AB46 was heard Monday. It calls for an increase in county sales and property taxes to help pay for maintenance at aging schools. Washoe County School District says it will raise $20 million each year. "The schools in Washoe County, some are 50 years old, some are 30 years old. There is no question there is a real maintenance and security need," Assemblyman Pat Hickey told us Monday.

No action was taken by the committee Monday. Right now, Assemblyman Hickey says the bill doesn't have the votes it needs to pass. He is hoping to amend the bill to give taxing power to the county commission or voters.

Written by Paul Nelson

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