Legislature Wrangling Over Taxes in Special Session

Nevada Budget Crisis
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Wednesday was day two of the special session of the legislature and most of the lawmakers were working on the unfinished business of education funding and a tax plan.

The lawmakers have a new deadline - Friday at 5 p.m. Are they going to make it?

Already there's considerable skepticism. And there is also already talk of - are you ready?

A second special session.

As the full Senate met as a committee of the whole, and 19 members of the Assembly gathered as a select committee, they had a limited agenda.education funding and a tax plan.

It's the tax plan that's kept them here and could keep them past Friday's deadline. There are a couple of big divides in this building and they were still evident today.

Both the Senate and Assembly committees are reviewing a list of possible components of a tax plan. You've already heard a lot about one of them.

The television ads say they were paid for by the Nevadans for Tax Fairness - that's actually the gaming industry.

And they've pushed hard this session for a business tax that doesn't specifically target them - the gross receipts tax.

It's since been modified. It's now call the Unified Business Tax, but by any name it's a no sell in the Senate.

Yet, in the Assembly committee yesterday, it seemed alive and well.
Speaker Richard Perkins even extracting an endorsement from business representatives.

With less than 2 days to go in this special session, if this does not look like a search for common ground to you, you're not alone.

But there's an even more troubling divide in the legislature.

Some assembly Republicans say the agenda is all wrong. The subject should not be taxes, it should be spending.

Assemblyman Bob Beers and other Asssembly Republicans want to reopen the budget and look for cuts, not for taxes to pay for new expenditures.

The problem is, the governor sets the agenda for a special session. He's already signed the budget and given the lawmakers the job of searching for $860 million in new revenues to pay for it.

They can't reopen the budget, but they think they can force the governor to do so by blocking a tax plan. They think they have the votes to do it.

If so, this special session may not be the end of it.

So, here we go. The next few days may not be pretty. They may be interesting.

By the way, lobbyists have been told to keep their distance - at least in the Senate. But the public is still being heard.

The Sparks Florist sent a message to the governor and some legislators today urging them not to raise taxes. The message was accompanied by a shirt with their logo - symbolic - they said of the shirt being taken off their back.