Las Vegas Sun

November 18, 2017

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Fix the tax code in a sensible way

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This month, we proposed a plan to prevent the imposition of a disastrous margins tax and to give voters a choice about how to generate more revenue to fund education in our state without derailing Nevada’s fragile economy.

Most Nevadans believe, as we do, that the development and implementation of an equitable tax code in our state is long overdue. Allowing tax loopholes and special industry protections to continue in Nevada at the expense of education has eroded public trust and confidence in our government and has led to unnecessary and harmful division within the Silver State.

We must remember when we are making decisions and setting policy in Carson City that we are all in this together as Nevadans — unified in the goal of making our state better for our children.

As such, we have asked our colleagues to pass Senate Joint Resolution 15 and simultaneously work with us to craft legislation outlining mining tax reform to serve as a competing measure to the flawed margins tax in the 2014 General Election.

SJR15, first approved by the 2011 Legislature, is a measure to remove mining’s special protection in the state constitution — single industry protection that has been in place since Nevada gained statehood in 1864.

A hearing on SJR15 is scheduled for Tuesday in the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development. If the Legislature passes SJR15 a second time, it will go on the 2014 ballot.

In addition to the passage of SJR15, we are fully committed to working with both our Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Legislature to craft legislation outlining mining tax reform to serve as a competing measure to the ill-conceived margins tax.

Right now, in this session, the Legislature has the authority, and in our view an obligation, to approve, by statute, an alternative measure that will compete with the margins tax on the 2014 ballot. The measure receiving the most votes will become law, assuming it passes by a majority of voters. We believe in giving voters a choice.

The competing measure, which we will work with our colleagues to craft and pass, will ask whether mining should contribute to the state’s education system at a level that more adequately reflects the benefit the industry gains by operating in, and extracting nonrenewable resources from, our state.

One thing we know for certain is that the margins tax will be on the 2014 ballot. This is undoubtedly a fatally flawed, job-killing tax on businesses large and small, which will stall economic development, put employers out of business, and lead to even higher numbers of unemployed Nevadans.

This is only the first step toward much-needed tax reform. We believe the discussion relating to broadening the tax base and finding more money for education is important. We will continue to work with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to identify sensible structural reforms to Nevada’s revenue system.

The authors are Republican members of the state Senate.

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