Education Tax

The Washoe County School District is lobbying lawmakers for a tax hike to help fund new school construction. But the district’s next job may be winning you over, because it appears voters will have the last say.

The school district has been making the case that it's facing a big shortfall in funding to build new schools and renovating older ones.

They say they will need as much as $500 million dollars in the next several years and until Monday they were fighting to get just a fraction of that amount from a hike in the real estate transfer tax. Now they have the possibility of getting most of it.

The state senate Monday voted to add a quarter cent sales tax increase and developer impact fees to the package. The total from all 3 sources: an estimated $343 million dollars.

But the school district's work is hardly over. The bill has also been amended to put the package to a vote of the people and it may share the ballot with other tax increases.

Washoe County Superintendent Paul Dugan says the greatest impact of the package will be in updating some of the district's older schools. If the district doesn't get the funding, he says, it would eventually face crowded classes, double sessions, and increased transportation costs as students are bused further.

The bill still faces a final vote in the Senate. Then it goes to the Assembly and, if it passes there, to the governor.

Gibbons has been holding to a "no new taxes" pledge. He has signaled that he might not stand in the way of a public vote raising taxes, though late last week a spokeswoman declined to say he would support the legislature putting it on the ballot, saying it was still too early to make that commitment.