The Education Initiative Will Be On 2014 Ballot
In a move that was an absolute surprise to no one, the Nevada Legislature failed to pass the margins tax bill that would have increased taxes by 2% for businesses that make $1 million or more a year in revenue. Not only did this bill not pass, no action was taken since the Legislature neither passed nor rejected it. So what does this mean? It means that it’s up to the voters of Nevada come the 2014 elections.
Sponsored by the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) and the Nevada State AFL-CIO, the Education Initiative started out as a petition which proposed a margins tax on businesses, filtering these much needed funds back to Nevada’s school system. Gathering the 72,352 required signatures needed on the petition, the initiative was successfully brought to the Nevada Legislature for consideration. However, both Republicans and Democrats weren’t exactly doing the happy dance when this measure appeared on the ballot. Raising taxes, especially in our current economic state, is something no state lawmaker was prepared to do, even if it meant $800 million for our schools.
So what happened? A few Senate Republicans proposed an alternative tax on the mining industry. Currently, the Nevada’s mining industry is taxed a measly 5% percent after deductions because Nevada’s Constitution (which was drafted in 1864) gives them tax certain protections. So those same State Republicans have urged Democrats to board the “let’s get mining to pay more taxes” train because they see it as a better solution to the margins tax. Basically they believe the mining industry can more than afford a tax hike while other businesses may be hurt by it. The problem is most Senate Republicans and Governor Sandoval are staunchly opposed to getting rid of the mining tax protection. However, those who support what’s being called the Senate Joint Resolution 15 (SJR15), hope that the measure will also be put to the vote in 2014.
The story doesn’t end there, folks. There may be two things that might happen in the 2014 elections. Both the margins tax bill and SJR15 could be on the ballot and voters would have to choose one or the other. The bill with most votes will then become law. So win-win in that situation. The second scenario could be that both measures end up on the ballot separately and both could be passed or both could be rejected by voters. But lawmakers don’t see the first happening because according to Nevada’s Constitution, a bill needs to be rejected by the Legislature before an alternative can be considered. Since the the margins bill was neither passed nor rejected, it may not qualify.
Here’s my two cents. We have one of the worst school districts in the country. Clark County School District has many issues and one is underfunding. I realize that you cannot always throw money at a problem. However, when there are not enough school books to go around, that’s a money issue. When classes are overcrowded, that’s a money issue. When programs such as special education are significantly downsized due to budget cuts, that’s a money issue. When studies have shown that students who partake in full day Kindergarten do better academically, yet parents here in Clark County have to pay for full day and that’s if it’s available to them (because not all schools offer it), once again, that’s a money issue. If Nevada schools somehow get more funding, it may not solve all of the Nevada’s education problems, but I do believe its a huge step in the right direction. I guess it will ultimately be up to the voters next year.
Tell us your thoughts. Do you agree with the tax margins bill or do you think the outdated mining tax law should changed?