Teachers Negotiate Tax Plan

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A teachers' union pushing an initiative petition to raise Nevada's gambling taxes is negotiating with resort representatives on a possible deal that would head off the petition while still providing more education funds.

Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association, confirmed Wednesday that the union is "taking part in some discussions with members of the gaming community."

Instead of the proposed increase in the gambling tax, the teachers and resort industry representatives reportedly are discussing a slight increase in room taxes for education.

Warne said the discussions are in "the very early stages" and no agreements have been reached. She declined to name the casino industry representatives involved or provide other details on the talks.

Bill Bible, head of the Nevada Resort Association which represents most major hotel-casinos, said he didn't know who from the industry was meeting with the NSEA.

While the discussions are continuing, the casino industry is appealing a judge's ruling that allowed the teachers' union to proceed with its initiative petition to raise the state's gambling tax on casinos grossing more than $1 million a month from 6.75 percent to 9.75 percent.

The Nevada Resort Association and Las Vegas Sands Corp. have asked the Nevada Supreme Court for a speedy handling of its appeal
from Senior Judge Miriam Shearing's April 3 ruling that the petition was legal.

Resort association attorney Todd Bice has urged the court to rule before May 20, the deadline for the NSEA to submit signatures to the secretary of state's office.

To qualify the measure for the November ballot, the teachers' union must gather the signatures of 58,628 registered voters. Voters would have to pass the initiative this year and again in 2010 for it to become part of the Nevada Constitution.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)