Las Vegas Sun

February 25, 2024

Guinn promises passage of tax on business

CARSON CITY -- Gov. Kenny Guinn looked out on a sea of red-shirted union workers in front of the Legislative Building and promised that lawmakers would not end this year's work in the state capital without approving a broad-based business tax.

"Without that, we're not going home," Guinn told the gathering of Culinary Union members, to rousing applause.

Later Guinn said he would convene a special session of the Legislature if lawmakers did not approve a broad-based tax in their regular session.

"If that's what it takes," Guinn said.

Guinn has proposed a one-quarter of 1 percent tax on business gross receipts over $450,000 as a broad-based business tax.

"Those who say they can cut our budget, we won't settle for that," Guinn said.

Legislative leaders on Wednesday reiterated support a long-term tax package in the remaining weeks of the session.

"We can get a broad-based business tax passed," said Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson.

Perkins again pledged his support for such a tax proposal Wednesday when he spoke to union workers at the rally.

"No tax will leave the state Assembly without a broad-based business tax," Perkins said, echoing statements he first made before the session began.

Likewise, Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, has consistently said he wants lawmakers to get the tax issue solved by the time they adjourn June 2.

"It's too soon to say whether there will be a special session," Raggio said. "I'd rather we just get it done and stop fooling around with it.

"This is a very serious problem," he added.

Perkins also said it was too early to talk about special sessions, but added a broad-based business tax "is going to be a prerequisite for us to leave here."

Special sessions of the Legislature are covered first with any money remaining in the legislative fund at the end of the regular session. If additional money is needed, it must come from the state's general fund.

While special sessions can be costly to convene in an off-year, the expense of a short special session immediately following a regular session would simply be a carry-over of regular session costs.

Culinary Union organizers said Wednesday they would continue to pressure lawmakers into approving a broad-based business tax.

"If we have to pull our kids out of school, bring our kids here and camp out in tents in front of the Legislature, we will," Culinary political director Glen Arnodo said. "We'll be back."

Teachers will provide the next caravan to the Legislative Building next Monday when Las Vegas teachers rally in Carson. Rural teachers will rally next month.

Other forces are also beginning to pressure lawmakers to approve a broad-based business tax.

Leslie Pittman, a lobbyist for Station Casinos, said her company's 10,000 employees will have access to Internet kiosks in casino break-rooms to send e-mail to their legislators urging support for a broad-based business tax. The Culinary Union presented a petition with 56,000 signatures supporting a broad-based tax, and said it would return to rally again.

Guinn told the union workers they should be proud of their gaming companies who have agreed to a 0.25 percent increase in the gaming tax and support the gross receipts tax, which the industry would pay on its non-gaming revenue.

"Gaming is working for us," Guinn said. "They're willing to pay more. Let's make sure big business pays more."