Nevada Senate Approves Gov. Brian Sandoval's Tax Plan - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Nevada Senate Approves Gov. Brian Sandoval's Tax Plan

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Nevada senators have approved Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposed tax plan.

The state Senate voted 17-4 on Tuesday to pass Senate Bill 252, which needed a two-thirds majority to prevail and move to the Assembly. Four Republicans opposed it.

"Today, we are poised to help Nevada grow up as a state and to do the very tough things that the people of Nevada expect of us," Senator Michael Roberson, (R) Las Vegas said.

The bill is Sandoval's proposed restructuring of the state's business license fee designed to raise more than $437 million to fund K-12 education programs. The measure passed out of a committee on a party-line vote after hours of hearings.

It's part of a plan to raise or extend more than $1 billion in taxes.

"We have to do this," Sandoval said. "It's no longer acceptable that we're at the bottom when it comes to high school graduation rates and achievement in reading and math. That's why I feel so strongly about this."

Critics fear the fee will put a financial burden on small businesses, comparing it to the failed margin tax.

"We all voted against a similar tax, last November. The margin tax," Senator Don Gustavson, (R) Reno said. "They can say this is different. Sure, it's different, but it's very similar."

The margin tax would have charged businesses, that gross a million dollars per year, a 2% tax. All Nevada businesses would be required to pay the business license fee that has an effective tax rate of 0.16%, but varies depending on how much money a business makes and what sector it is in.

"This is more broad-based, it's simpler, and it's much more modest in terms of the number of dollars it raises," Senator Greg Brower, (R) Reno said. "So, it's apples and oranges."

Some lawmakers say the bills passage will prevent new businesses from coming to the Silver State. But others say fixing the education system will encourage companies to come to Nevada from other states.

"The reason they're not flooding here is because we have a second-rate education system that we have been unwilling to fund," Senator Tick Segerblom, (D) Las Vegas said.

Tuesday also marks a legislative deadline for most bills to pass out of their house of origin. (AP)

To read more about bills in this session, click here

From the Office of Governor Brian Sandoval: 

Governor Brian Sandoval, Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, and Senate Minority Leader Aaron D. Ford today issued the following statement after passage of Senate Bill 252 out of the Nevada State Senate. Senate Bill 252 is Governor Sandoval's Business License Fee modernization plan, which provides the revenue necessary to invest in Nevada's public education system. 

“I would like to thank the members of the Nevada State Senate for the thoughtful and thorough review of Senate Bill 252. The Senate's actions are proof that investing in Nevada's public education system and providing students with resources they need are bipartisan priorities that unite us as we continue to build the New Nevada,” said Governor Brian Sandoval. “I would personally like to acknowledge the leadership of Majority Leader Roberson and Minority Leader Ford and thank their colleagues for taking this courageous vote which allows us to continue this important discussion. We are now one step closer to securing a future in which Nevada is the leader in education, innovation, and student success that I wholeheartedly believe we can be.” 

“The State Senate was proud to accept the Governor's challenge to modernize our revenue structure and invest in our children to strengthen Nevada and benefit generations to come. Passage of Senate Bill 252 is a major step toward fulfilling the promise of an education system that meets the demands of Nevada's diverse and growing student population. The Senate Republican Caucus would like to thank Governor Sandoval for his vision and leadership and remains committed to working with his office and the Senate Democrats to build a stronger, more prosperous Nevada,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson.

"Nevada's families deserve a public education system that will allow our children to meet their full potential, and today's vote on SB 252 is an important step in that direction. We are one step closer to having a sustainable source of revenue that will properly fund our schools and other essential services," said Senate Minority Leader Aaron D. Ford. "On behalf of the Senate Democrats, I would like to thank all of my colleagues and Governor Sandoval for their contributions towards the debate on how to best fund our education system. We look forward to the discussions that will take place over the next 6 weeks on the budget and how to fund these priorities

From the Office of Governor Brian Sandoval

From the Nevada Controller and Treasurer: 

Nevada's Fiscal Constitutional officers expressed their disappointment with the Nevada State Senate's passage of the $438-million hike instituting the business license tax this morning. This tax is essentially the same as the gross margins tax that Nevada voters rejected four-to-one just five months ago. The Treasurer and Controller pointed out that other alternatives have been suggested:

•    Postponing several items in the Governor's $900 million in new expenditures (Treasurer)

•    A $0.25 point-of-sale tax on hotel restaurant/bar receipts (Treasurer)

•    Various new revenues that do not require tax increases or new taxes (Controller)

•    Block grants and local flexibility in spending that would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually (Controller)

They thanked Senators Pete Goicoechea, Don Gustavson, Scott Hammond and James Settlemeyer, who opposed the bill.

“To propose a tax that has been explicitly rejected by Nevada voters displays a blatant disregard for the democratic process. The Governor has called for alternatives.  Those have been provided. They should be considered along with reprioritizing several proposed expenditures,” said Treasurer Dan Schwartz,

“In the 2003 session, I witnessed firsthand the same tactics and passing of a similar destructive tax bill.  It divided all parties badly and required two special sessions to repair the damage,” said State Controller Ron Knecht. “This time, I've worked with a group of Assembly members, and we've offered a compromise budget plan without any new or increased taxes that grows government slower than Nevada's economy and secures the educational goals proposed by the Governor. The Assembly needs to take up this pro-growth plan.”

The two officers ask the Assembly to reject the tax hike. They also respectfully requested that the Governor sit down with the Constitutional Officers and Assembly leaders to formulate a budget that honors both the Governor's program to improve education as well as the wishes of Nevada voters.

From the Nevada Controller and Treasurer

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