Nevada's tax and budget picture narrows
Nevada's spending desires and the corresponding need for new taxes is becoming clear.
The Assembly's fiscal committee is backing a spending plan that requires more than a billion dollars in new revenue. Its Senate counterpart needs more than $800 million to meet its spending desires.
Where those dollars will come from is still up for debate, but it will likely include a newly released version of the gross receipts tax.]
The Unified Business Tax would let businesses choose the smaller of the gross receipts tax or a one percent tax on their gross profits. The plan is designed to help businesses that operate with low profit margins.
Assemblyman David Parks is chairman of the Assembly Taxation Committee. He says he expects to pass a tax package generating $950
million in new revenue.
The measure was pushed by Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, who says she experienced problems with opponents in two different election cycles.
Last year, Koivisto faced Richard Gardner - who got his name on the ballot even though he had four criminal convictions.
Felony convictions ban people from seeking public office if their civil rights weren't restored.
In 1998, Republican Michael Plaisted ran against Koivisto although he didn't live in the district - also a requirement.
Koivisto's bill requires people filing a declaration of candidacy for public office to swear that, if they were ever convicted of a felony, their civil rights had been restored.
Senator Mark Amodei is sponsoring a bill creating a legislative panel to review the actions of the Colorado River Commission and the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority.
He says the commission would oversee 85 percent of the state's water supply.
Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani says stricter oversight of the river commission could alleviate concerns it isn't doing its job.
George Caan is executive director of the Colorado River Commission. He says no additional oversight is necessary.
But representatives of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency say they'd welcome more review of their activities.
A key lawmaker is skeptical of a bill ensuring state workers can file federal discrimination lawsuits against Nevada.
Bill Raggio is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He says he's worried about the bill's cost. Raggio says it could force the state to retrofit hundreds of buildings to conform with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The state attorney general's office says the bill would cost Nevada nearly $2 million a year. That's to pay for legal costs of any new claims against the state.
Union leaders and civil rights activists say federal civil rights and fair labor laws should apply to Nevada just as they do to private companies.
The bill's been approved by the Assembly, but it faces tough going in Raggio's panel.
Legislation bringing Nevada into compliance with federal education requirements is pending before the state Assembly.
Senators scaled back the original bill's cost and ambitious scope after complaints from school districts and educators.
The No Child Left Behind Act was passed by Congress two years ago.
It holds schools accountable for student achievement.
Every state is required to submit its plan to add accountability and testing to the federal Education Department.
Nevada already had many testing requirements on the books, and it can't get approved until the bill is signed into law.
The bill is 116 pages long. It'll cost the state about $9 million a year to
make the changes. The federal government will pay millions more.
A proposal by the Nevada Wildlife Division to raise hunting and fishing license fees without having to ask state lawmakers has been rejected by the Senate Finance Committee.
The panel voted to approve fee increases as part of Governor Guinn's plan to balance the wildlife budget and avert a funding shortfall. But the agency will have to continue to return to the Legislature to raise fees in future years.
The agency wanted authority to raise fees on its own in response to inflationary increases. But some hunting-fishing advocates said legislative oversight should be maintained.
Fee increases in the budget include a six-dollar hike in the resident hunting license, to 29 dollars; and a five-dollar increase in a resident fishing license, to 25 dollars. If approved, the higher fees would take effect next year.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)