AP Photo/Cathleen Allison
Friday, May 27, 2011 | 5 p.m.
- Governor might seek clarification on Supreme Court ruling (5-27-2011)
- Court decision changes footing on state budget (5-27-2011)
- Sandoval adviser: Court ruling blows hole in budget 10 times larger than expected (5-27-2011)
- Teachers union wants more than extending taxes set to expire (5-26-2011)
- Timing of court ruling breaking budget stalemate no coincidence (5-26-2011)
- In a reversal, Sandoval to consider extending 2009 tax increases (5-26-2011)
- Oceguera: Sunsetting taxes the ‘best we’re going to do’(5-26-2011)
- Court rules Legislature’s $62 million grab unconstitutional (5-26-2011)
CARSON CITY - As Gov. Brian Sandoval eeks further clarification on the effect of Thursday’s game-changing Supreme Court decision, his senior adviser said today that the governor will only consider raising the taxes set to expire in exchange for reforms of government.
Dale Erquiaga said at a news conference today that Sandoval does not support raising the complete $679 million that would come with lifting the sunsets on taxes passed in 2009. Sandoval would consider raising a portion of it.
Sandoval had campaigned and been a consistent voice against raising taxes or extending the 2009 taxes. But the Nevada Supreme Court decision to invalidate the state taking money from a Clark County water fund — which had a $62 million effect — creates an unforeseen circumstance.
The decision could put as much as $656 million in revenue that was in the governor’s budget at risk.
“The Supreme Court changed everything,” Erquiaga said. Taxes, he said, are “a last resort.”
Making an additional $656 million in cuts would mean “layoffs of hundreds of teachers ... The budget already contains difficult decisions,” he said. “We think this is a budget we can live with.”
Sandoval thinks that extending the sunsets must come with changes in how government spends money in the long term.
“It’s a last resort to go there. They have to come with reforms,” he said.
Interpreted most broadly, the Supreme Court decision means a number of budget maneuvers including taking school districts’ debt reserves and diverting property tax money from Clark and Washoe counties could be ruled unconstitutional by the court.
“That will forever change how we balance the budget in the state of Nevada,” Erquiaga said.
If the Supreme Court is interpreted narrowly and only applies to this instance, the hole could be just $62 million. In that case, “We’re back to where we were at 8 a.m. yesterday,” he said.
Sandoval’s switch on the expiring taxes is a huge step to resolving the impasse at the Legislature, where Democrats couldn’t find votes for taxes and Republicans didn’t have votes to pass Sandoval’s budget. But there are still plenty of negotiating left to do between factions, including over how much to raise in those expiring taxes, and what kind of government reforms the Legislature will pass.
Erquiaga said Sandoval still wants lawmakers to adjourn by June 6, the 120th and final day of the 2011 Legislative session.
Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, have publicly expressed support for extending the taxes.
Sandoval still wants clarifications of the effect of the Clean Water Coalition vs. State of Nevada decision.
Sandoval spoke to Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto at 1 a.m. today about filing a brief with the Nevada high court asking it to clarify its intent, Erquiaga said. He has also asked Cortez Masto to prepare an interpretation of the opinion.