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Students rally against budget cuts, call for business tax hike


AP Photo/Cathleen Allison

Hundreds of college students swarmed the Legislature in Carson City on Monday, March 21, 2011, during a rally protesting proposed budget cuts to higher education.

Updated Monday, March 21, 2011 | 11:59 a.m.

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Hundreds of college students swarmed the Legislature in Carson City on Monday, March 21, 2011, during a rally protesting proposed budget cuts to higher education.

CARSON CITY – Scores of students from Nevada universities and colleges pleaded with the Legislature today to reject education cuts in the proposed budget of Gov. Brian Sandoval. Many urged lawmakers to increase taxes to solve the financial woes of the state.

Students braved snow and rain to rally at the Legislature and told lawmakers of the sacrifices they've made, saying they face mounting tuition and fee increases.

Kyle George, president of the Student Alliance at UNLV, said 15 busloads of students left Las Vegas late Sunday and all of the schools stand united. He wore a UNR jersey to show that all students are standing together.

He said the Legislature must consider raising corporate taxes. The students, he said, already have endured tuition and fee increases.

UNR student Marshal Johnson said he worked for five years to pay his way through school. He told the Assembly and Senate joint budget committees that the proposed cuts would be “detrimental of future generations.”

Jason McGill of Western Nevada College said he drove 45 miles through snow to talk to legislators. He said he drives from his home in Silver Springs to Carson City to the college, which costs him $60-$70 a week in gas.

“This is the only hope to get a higher education,” he said.

Speaker after speaker said the proposed 17 percent reduction would hurt Nevada's future. Some broke down in tears as they told their stories.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, opened the meeting by saying the Legislature must “take a road less traveled” and added “the decisions this session makes will decide the state’s future.”

A spokesman for Sandoval this morning said the governor had no meetings planned with the students, but that a petition is expected to be presented to him. The governor's office later said Sandoval planned to meet with organizers at 1:30 p.m.

Sandoval has said he will veto any proposed tax increases.

The rally outside the legislative building included speeches from student, community and legislative leaders.

Erin Neff, of ProgressNow Nevada, submitted a petition signed by more than 2,000 people calling for a broad-based business tax and to end the tax deductions she says the mining industry has “weaseled out of.”

The petition calls for a business tax on the state’s largest corporations with net profits exceeding $500,000 a year. She also suggested taxing foreign-owned mining corporations to eliminate their deductions.

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