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November 28, 2015

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Nevada Territory

Increasingly worried liberals seek pushback on Sandoval budget


AP Photo/Cathleen Allison

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval delivers his inaugural address during Monday’s inauguration ceremony, Jan. 3, 2011 at the Capitol in Carson City.

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Liberal groups are trying to stir up opposition to Gov. Brian Sandoval's no-new-taxes budget that the new governor will deliver Monday during his first State of the State speech.

There's been a growing sense of worry from the set of lawmakers and interests who argue that new revenue is needed to avoid deep cuts to state services like health care programs, K-12 and higher education. Particularly since the retirement of Bill Raggio, the longtime Republican state senator from Reno, pro-tax representatives have been increasingly frustrated trying to figure out how they will be able to raise taxes.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada said it will bus advocates for state services to the Legislature in Carson City for Monday's speech. The state teacher’s union has scheduled a viewing party for Las Vegas.

Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance and a new group called Nevada Values Coalition, released a progressive alternative state of the state video, which called on Sandoval to use a “balanced approach” to the budget. “No new taxes is just another way of saying no solutions,” he said.

Sandoval was seen as a moderate before he jumped onto the campaign trail in 2008, but has fully embraced the roll of conservative champion.

He made that clear once again today, in a press release about the increase of the state's unemployment rate to 14.5 percent.

“We cannot burden struggling businesses with tax increases, and why we cannot ask the struggling family to pay more," Sandoval said in a statement. "We must allow sunsetting taxes to expire at the end of June and provide businesses the environment in which to begin hiring again."

The Legislature convenes on Feb. 7, though lawmakers will hold hearings on Sandoval's budget starting next week.

The Legislature in 2009 for the first time overrode a governor's veto and passed its own budget, which included tax increases that will expire on June 30th.

But that was when Gov. Jim Gibbons, and his baggage, at the helm.

With Sandoval and his deep well of political capital in charge, he is expected to be the dominant force of the Legislature. It will make it difficult for Democrats to peel off the three Republican senators and two Republican Assembly members they would need for a two-thirds majority.

The belief that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to raise taxes in the 2011 Legislature has crescendoed since Bill Raggio, the 38-year veteran of the state senate, announced he would not serve in his final Legislative session. Raggio, a Republican who had encouraged Sandoval to run against former Gov. Jim Gibbons, had openly talked about the need to preserve "essential services," even if that might require a tax increase.

In his alternate State of the State video, Fulkerson proposed eliminating mining tax deductions, a sales tax on "luxury services" and a net profit tax on businesses making over $500,000 a year.

"We're not asking struggling businesses to pay more," he said in an interview. "We're asking profitable companies to pay more."

Republican legislators have indicated that they will follow the lead of Sandoval, who will have to reveal how he balances the budget on Monday. He had promised before the election to reveal how he would balance the budget without raising taxes, but never followed through on that pledge.

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