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July 26, 2021

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Nevada Territory

Oceguera: Sunsetting taxes the ‘best we’re going to do’

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John Oceguera

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said extending sunsets would be the best Democrats could do after reports that Gov. Brian Sandoval would present a budget Friday that extended sunsetting taxes.

"It's good," he said. "The people all along wanted us to work together. What happens is something came from above," he said, gesturing to the Nevada Supreme Court.

The court on Thursday released a decision in the case of the Clean Water Coalition. The Legislature in 2010 took $62 million from fees raised in Clark County for a water project and put the money into the state general fund. The Supreme Court ruled the seizure by the Legislature was illegal, presenting potential problems for other parts of Sandoval's budget.

Sandoval released a statement Thursday that he believed the court ruling had wide-reaching implications.

Sources close to the administration said Sandoval would consider all or part of the sunsets, which are up to $712 million.

Oceguera said the extension of the sunsets would have to be enough.

"I think it's the best we're going to do," he said.

He also said he would still consider putting a broad-based tax on the ballot, either in a special election later this year or later into the future.

"That still needs to be a possibility," he said. "Cuts are still drastic. When we came here, we wanted to reform our tax structure."

He said 800 positions would still be eliminated in Clark County, higher education student tuition would go up 13 percent and there would still be cuts to social services.

But Oceguera has always been more moderate on taxes - more realistic or less ambitious, depending on your view - than his counterpart in the upper house, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas.

Another unresolved issue is what happens to reforms.

Assembly Republicans had been negotiating for long-term government reforms in exchange for their votes for sunsets. He said, "Reasonable reforms that make sense - transparency in government, kids succeeding in classrooms - are still reasonable."

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