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Economy & Business | Election 2020 | Government | IndyBlog

Taxpayers association opposes teacher union-backed sales and gaming tax ballot questions

Las Vegas Strip. Photo courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau

The Nevada Taxpayers Association has announced its opposition to the two Clark County teachers union-backed ballot initiatives that would substantially raise gaming and sales tax rates to help fund K-12 education.

The group, which is a long-standing nonprofit that promotes “sound fiscal policies” and typically lobbies on tax issues during legislative sessions, announced its opposition to the proposed ballot initiatives in a press release Friday, saying that a “policy blueprint of this size and scope” should be approved through the legislative process and not by voters.

In a statement, tax association president Cindy Creighton said the estimated increase of sales tax (worth roughly $1 billion annually) would affect tax neutrality and consumer behavior, especially in the tourism industry. She also said that the proposed 40 percent hike in the state’s gaming tax rate would likely have a “harmful effect on gaming companies and their employees.”

“It is the view of the NTA that a tax increase of this size, without the appropriate performance benchmarks, does not serve the best interests of our state,” the group said in a statement.

The two initiatives are backed by the Clark County Education Association, which filed the petitions in January as a way to raise an additional $1.4 billion per year to help fund K-12 education in the state. Such an increase — which union leader John Vellardita called the “final fix” for education funding — would mark a 28 percent increase in the state’s annual budget, the taxpayers association estimated.

Earlier this month, each initiative was sued over alleged issues with the initiative petition’s description of effect, the 200-word summary of a ballot measure that appears on signature forms. The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee sued over the sales tax petition, and the Nevada Resort Association brought the lawsuit against the petition to raise the gaming tax.

State law requires backers of a statutory initiative to gather signatures from at least 10 percent of registered voters who cast a ballot in the previous election. For the 2020 election cycle, that means a minimum of 97,598 valid signatures total and at least 24,400 in each of the state’s four congressional districts must be submitted by Nov. 18, 2020.

If enough signatures are deemed valid, the initiative petition moves to the 2021 Legislature, where lawmakers have 40 days to approve the petition. If they reject the petition or take no action, it would then move to the 2022 ballot.

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