Nevada Legislature Rushes to Finish Work on Final Day
It took 120 days but Governor Brian Sandoval's Nevada revenue plan is set to become law. The bill's passage will allow full-funding of the governor's budget.
Most lawmakers say they think they will get everything done before their midnight deadline. And a big reason for that is because they've agreed on a way to fund the governor's education reforms.
Lawmakers have approved a plan that could increase K-12 revenue by nearly $900-million - part of the governor's $1.1 billion tax increase.
"This is the largest investment in public education, coupled with sweeping reform in education since 1955,” says state superintendent Dale Erquiaga.
Senate Bill 483 includes a business license fee increase. Small businesses will pay $200 per year with corporations paying $500. Companies that gross more than $4-million, annually will pay a higher fee on a graduated scale.
"As a business owner, I see the impact it's going to have on my business and I'm willing to make that investment. You can look where taxes are in other states. The sky's not falling. It's not the end of the world,” says Assemblyman Paul Anderson, (R) Majority Leader.
But not everyone agrees with the bill comparing it to the margin tax that voters struck down.
"Eighty-percent of people voted no on the gross receipts tax and this is no different. It's just under a different name. There's some differences in there but really not enough to make it a different tax,” says Sen. Don Gustavson, (R) District 14.
The bill also makes changes to other existing taxes including the payroll tax and net proceeds tax on minerals. And the cigarette tax will go from 80-cents a pack to $1.80.
Democrats and Republicans agree now is the time for education reform. "We saw that the status quo was no longer acceptable and we can't just keep failing schools failing. And we can't stay at the bottom of all the good lists,” says Assemblyman Anderson.
Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson says, "There's no way I could go home and look at my kids with a good conscience without knowing that I didn't fight as hard as I could to give them a good education."
Many say the governor's plan will address under-performance, while preparing kids for the real world.
"We're not just spending money, wildly. Lots of accountability to say we're putting money into education and now we want to see the needle in achievement moved,” says Assemblywoman Benitez-Thompson, (D) Assistant Minority Leader.
Assemblyman Anderson adds, "I think we'll look back at this in a few years, in 10 years, and see this as a pivotal moment in Nevada's history
Sandoval's spending plan is $7.3 billion. But lawmakers say they're still not sure how much money they will have to work with because some taxes are brand new.
For instance, the 3% tax for companies like Uber could bring in anywhere from $30-million to $90-million.