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October 6, 2015

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Damon Political Report

Sandoval’s budget relies on at least one fee increase


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Gov. Brian Sandoval waits to greet a delegation from the Senate to inform him that the Senate is organized and ready for business during the first day of the 2011 legislative session Feb. 7, 2011, in Carson City.

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CARSON CITY - Sure, it’s easy to say you’re for no fee or tax increases, but it’s not that easy to actually pull it off when you go to build the budget.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who repeatedly emphasizes his rock solid position against raising taxes or fees, had to scrape together more than $1 billion in new revenue to offset the substantial cuts he’s made to education, health and human services and public safety.

Included in that new revenue is at least one fee increase.

In the last special session, the Legislature authorized the Nevada Gaming Control Board to increase the hourly rate it charges prospective gaming licensees to investigate their applications to $135 from $80.

That legislative fee increase is included in Sandoval’s budget.

But Sandoval is also allowing the Gaming Control Board to collect $242,000 more a year from applicants by expanding the amount of time in which that fee is charged.

Currently, applicants only pay the gaming control board for investigating their application. Under a change proposed by the Sandoval administration, the board would begin charging the fee for the pre-investigation review of the application for completeness and a post-investigation review of the application before it's sent to the board.

Stacy Woodbury, the board’s chief, said the move is to stay in line with the legislative priority of requiring the industry to bear the costs of regulation rather than the state’s general fund.

But it’s also a fee increase proposed by the governor.

Woodbury said the increase was necessary to avoid layoffs.

Asked about the change in the fee structure, Sandoval’s chief of staff Heidi Gansert said she would have to look into it.

Since Sandoval has vowed to stand rigidly against a tax increase, his opposition has been scouring his budget to find ways to label the popular new governor a hypocrite.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, accused the governor of raising taxes on the mining industry by removing the sunset on the industry’s pre-payment of $60 million in net proceeds tax.

The change adjusts the timing of the tax payment to ensure the state has money in the first year of the biennium.

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