Tax Referendum In The Works

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An anti-tax activist plans to circulate petitions soon to let Nevadans vote down most of the $836 million tax increase approved by the Legislature in July.

Nevada Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman George Harris said the petitions call for limiting the tax increase to $131 million. He said the cuts shouldn't affect education spending, but force Gov. Kenny Guinn and legislators to reduce state government spending.

"State government has become a Pac-Man bureaucratic process,"Harris said Thursday."All it does is munch out the taxpayers."

Besides circulating petitions for a referendum on the tax increase in about two weeks, Harris also will circulate an initiative to prohibit government employees, including teachers, from serving in the Legislature.

He said the proposal would force at least 14 lawmakers to decide whether to quit their full-time jobs if they wish to keep their seats.

Greg Bortolin, Guinn's spokesman, said the $131 million tax increase advocated by Harris would force legislators to cut not only state government, but public education.

"Does he want us to lay off 4,000 teachers and let 5,000 people out of prison?"Bortolin asked.

Harris needs to collect 51,234 valid signatures by May 18 to put the tax repeal plan before voters in the November 2004 election.

If voters kill the tax increase, then legislators would be forced into an immediate special session to decide where they can cut spending.

In moving to cut the tax increase to $131 million, Harris acknowledged he has broken ranks with longtime ally Dan Burdish. Burdish plans to circulate petitions starting in October that would allow voters to cut the tax increase to about $500 million.