Las Vegas Sun

October 9, 2015

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Appeal of education tax ruling filed

A motion will be filed Monday asking the Nevada Supreme Court to give speedy consideration to an appeal on the validity of an initiative petition to impose business tax for education, education officials said.

Francis Flaherty, attorney for the Nevada State Education Association, said an appeal was filed Thursday with the court on the decision by Carson City District Judge James Wilson that the petition was faulty and could not be presented to the 2013 Legislature.

Flaherty said the appeal would be followed up next week with the motion for expedited handling of the case.

The teachers union is gathering the required 72,352 signatures of voters. The deadline is Nov. 13 for filing the petition. There must be 18,088 signatures in each of the four Congressional districts.

Lynne Warne, president of the association, and Gary Peck, the executive director, could not be reached for comment on how many signatures had been gathered. Peck said earlier this month that 55,000 to 60,000 names had been collected.

The petition seeks to impose a 2 percent margins tax on businesses with an annual income of more than $1 million. It is expected to raise $800 million a year to go towards funding public schools.

The law also requires this 25 page petition to include a 200 word summary. During the hearing earlier this month, Judge Wilson said he doubted the average voter would read the full petition and only look at the summary.

Judge Wilson, in his ruling Tuesday said the summary was "incomplete, deceptive and misleading" because not all the money would go to the state's school support formula. He said millions of dollars would go to the state Department of Taxation for administering the tax, which was not explained in the summary.

The summary "must be straightforward, succinct and nonargumentative," he said.

If successful, the petition would be presented to the 2013 Legislature which must make a decision within 40 days. If the Legislature does not pass the tax, it will go on the 2014 election ballot for the voters to decide.

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