Las Vegas Sun

August 13, 2022

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Sandoval supports Clark County sales tax increase for police

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wednesday he will support a quarter-cent sales tax increase in Clark County to pay for more police officers.

Sandoval cited Clark County voters’ approval in 2004 of a half-cent sales tax increase — only a quarter-cent has been enacted so far — for police.

“Given the importance of public safety to Clark County’s economy and to the citizens of our state’s most populated county, I plan to support the decision of voters of Clark County and sign this measure if it passes the 2013 Legislature,” Sandoval said in a statement provided at the request of the Sun.

More broadly on taxes, Sandoval has drawn a line at the existing tax level to fund state services and education.

He has, though, rallied Republican support for extending up to $620 million worth of state taxes to prevent cuts to education and health and human services that would otherwise expire in 2013. He said he would cut some business taxes in the budget proposal he will present to the Legislature in January.

Sandoval said earlier this month that raising taxes would hurt businesses as the state’s economy recovers.

Both the Clark County Commission and Las Vegas City Council passed resolutions this week supporting the tax increase, but not without opposition.

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce opposes the increase, and some commissioners are against it, too, most notably Commissioner Steve Sisolak, a Democrat and potential candidate for governor.

Sisolak said voters passed the advisory question in 2004, before the economy tanked, unemployment rose and housing prices dropped.

“Right now, it would be another burden put on citizens and taxpayers,” he said. “Public safety is important to all of us, but so is education. I think the public wants us to be a little bit more prudent in how we spend taxpayer dollars.”

Democratic leadership was also noncommittal on the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis said he supports the concept but wants to see the language in the bill.

“I support the fact voters voted it in, and we needed more cops at the time, and we probably still do,” he said.

Denis said he wants to make sure the money doesn’t go to pay raises for existing police officers instead of for hiring more officers.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said legislative lawyers have told him legislation allowing the Clark County Commission to have a final vote would only require a simple majority, getting around the constitutional requirement that two-thirds of lawmakers pass a tax increase.

But, he said, he wanted a review of how the money has been spent since the first quarter-cent hike was approved by lawmakers in 2005.

Sgt. Chuck Callaway, director of intergovernmental services for Metro Police, said the tax increase would raise about $50 million a year for Metro.

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