Las Vegas Sun

June 2, 2015

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State teachers union to push tax initiative

The state teachers union wants a turn to try to raise taxes for education. The Nevada State Education Association said Wednesday night that it will take the lead in filing a tax initiative, despite a competing measure from the state's largest labor organization and reluctance from business groups to sign onto a tax this year.

The announcement comes on the same day that an arbitrator sided with the union on giving pay raises and benefits, forcing the Clark County School District to lay off teachers, the district said. Gary Peck, executive director of the Nevada State Education Association, would not release details of the initiative.

"We're guaranteeing an initiative will be filed," he said. "We will take a leadership role and are putting a process together."

He said the group is "casting a wide net" to meet with business and labor groups. He would not say what kind of tax it would be, how much money it would raise or when it would be filed.

"We understand we have to pull it together sooner rather than later," he said.

Advocates for an initiative have until November to collect more than 72,000 valid signatures. It would then go to the Legislature, where it would need a two-thirds majority to pass. If it fails there, it would go on the ballot in 2014.

Gaming, mining and other business leaders who have traditionally supported a broad-based business tax have refused to sign on to the AFL-CIO's initiative.

The state's AFL-CIO has been working on an initiative for almost a year.

That initiative, which would institute a tax on business profits, would raise $1 billion a year for education.

The NSEA has withheld support, and money it has to help collect signatures, over a dispute in the legal language, union officials have said.

AFL-CIO head Danny Thompson was not available for comment. But a source close to their process said as of now, the group continued to move forward.

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