Nev. Voters Support Upping Hotel Room Tax

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nearly two-thirds of likely Nevada voters support a proposal to increase the hotel room tax to generate more money for public education, according to a new poll paid for by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The idea of increasing the room tax, which is largely paid by tourists, from 10 percent to 13 percent to raise money for public education was supported by 60 percent of voters statewide, with 31 percent opposed and 9 percent undecided.

That's a slight increase from June, when a poll showed 58 percent of voters in support.

Advisory questions to raise the room tax will be on the November ballot only in Washoe and Clark Counties. The room tax rate increase would affect lodging only in these two counties.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 13-15 by Washington, D.C.-based
Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. The survey queried 400 likely voters and had a margin for error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The poll showed Clark County residents supported the advisory question by a margin of 64 percent to 29 percent, with 7 percent undecided. The rest of the state showed 52 percent in favor, 35 percent opposed and 13 percent undecided.

The room tax plan is supported by the Nevada State Education Association and some in the gambling industry. MGM Mirage spokesman
Alan Feldman has described it as an inadequate solution to the state's financial problems.

Teachers are circulating petitions now to ensure the tax hike is considered by the Legislature in 2009.

Supporters must collect slightly more than 58,000 valid signatures on those petitions by Nov. 11 for the measure to go forward. If they meet that goal, then the Legislature must consider the proposal within the first 40 days of the session.

If lawmakers approve the plan, it could take effect by July 1. It would take a two-thirds affirmative vote of the Legislature to implement the increase.

If legislators reject the proposal, then it would be placed on the election ballot in November 2010.

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons has said that he would veto any tax increase proposal that does not have widespread public support, making the votes in Clark and Washoe important for moving the proposal forward.

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