Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 | 3:12 p.m.
State financial experts say preliminary numbers show that the Nevada economy is slowly growing and will continue to do so in 2014.
Testimony confirming that prediction was presented today to the Economic Forum, a panel of five economic and taxation experts from the private sector, which must in December 2014 estimate how much tax revenue the state will collect in fiscal years 2015-2017.
Deputy Legislative Fiscal Analyst Joe Reed said that for the first four months of this fiscal year, tax collections were $1.3 million higher than the forum predicted and one-tenth of a percent higher than the predicted $3.3 billion fiscal 2014 budget approved by the Nevada Legislature.
Reed, in reviewing the tax collections for this fiscal year, said the receipts from gaming, sales and business were down slightly.
But statistics show there has been a 14.3 percent increase in the live entertainment tax collected by gaming properties and a 38 percent gain in the real property transfer tax, which signals the recovery of home sales.
Tax collections from cigars and chewing tobacco have grown 27 percent in the first four months of the fiscal year, but collections from cigarette sales are 4.6 percent lower than forum forecasts.
Leanndra Copeland, economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said the unemployment rate — currently slightly higher than 9 percent — is expected to decline 1 percent in 2014 and half a percent in 2015.
Copeland said Nevada lost 200,000 jobs during the recession but has recovered about 50,000.
Steve Hill, executive director of the state Office of Economic Development, told the forum that 4,386 jobs — with an average wage of $22.89 an hour — have been created this year in companies that have been given tax breaks for sales, business and personal property.
Tina Quigley, general manager of the Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission, said the gasoline tax increase in the Las Vegas area will allow the issuance of $700 million in bonds for road projects, including the first phase of Interstate 11 — which will eventually connect Las Vegas with Phoenix — and construction on the 215 Beltway. These projects also will put more people to work, she said.
The Clark County Commission authorized the increase of 3.2 cents per gallon for each of the next three years.