Taxpayers Group Opposing Three Tax Repeal Initiatives

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A high-profile Nevada taxpayers group is opposing three referendums seeking to repeal taxes enacted by the 2003 Legislature.

"The referendums pose as many unintended consequences as the tax legislation they propose to repeal," Carole Vilardo, Nevada Taxpayers Association president, said in an association e-mail posted this week.

She told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Thursday report that, if approved, the referendums would pose problems for the state and might prompt a special session of the Legislature.

"In all probability, short of the governor imposing major cuts across the board, there would have to be a special session called," Vilardo said. "There is no reason to believe that sufficient cuts would be made, which then leaves the alternative of enacting taxes, and the question then becomes what taxes."

A survey completed by 72 percent of 44 association board members was ratified by the association's executive committee earlier this month and made public Tuesday.

Of those who responded, 94 percent opposed the Nevadans for Sound Government referendum and 97 percent opposed two other payroll tax repeal referendums.

Christopher Hansen, Clark County spokesman for Nevadans for Sound Government, accused the taxpayers association of being funded by casinos.

"The casinos wanted the gaming tax and they (the taxpayers association) know where they get their money," Hansen said.

The association is funded by membership dues assessed on a sliding scale based on business size. Five hotel-casinos and one small casino are members, and two of the 44 board members represent gambling.

Vilardo said she was concerned that if the referendums qualify but fail to pass, the taxes would remain in effect and could only be repealed by voters.

In 1956, citizens approved by referendum the state's 2 percent portion of the sales tax, which continues.

Vilardo said the referendum sought by Nevadans for Sound Government contains other problems, including calling for repeal of $28 million already allocated and spent by the Department of Taxation for new computer equipment.

The backer of the other two referendums - seeking repeal of payroll taxes on businesses and financial institutions - has suspended his effort to collect signatures.

But Dan Burdish said he was stunned the taxpayers association would oppose the repeal of taxes contained in his referendums.

"I think they've lost all credibility," he said.

In addition to the tax repeal referendums, the association opposes the Nevada State Education Association's initiative seeking to amend the constitution to require education funding meet the national average by 2012.

Vilardo said the initiative erodes legislative authority and provides no accountability for funds spent.


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