Gov. Jim Gibbons has until early next week to decide whether to veto a bill erasing "green" building tax breaks, and will take until then to make up his mind, a spokeswoman said Friday.
Melissa Subbotin, the governor's press secretary, said Gibbons asked state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto for advice to determine, among other things, whether his signing of SB567 would leave the state open to costly lawsuits, and he expects a response on Monday.
"Following review of the opinion and further details regarding the bill, the governor will make his decision," Subbotin said. "Currently the governor's decision is contingent upon several different factors that will materialize over the weekend."
The Republican governor also is having research done to determine who has qualified so far for the breaks approved by legislators in 2005. He has until Tuesday to exercise his veto powers. After that, the bill would become law.
Gibbons has said the legal analysis by the attorney general is needed because the tax break repeal approved last week by lawmakers amounted to "a rush by the Legislature to correct a rush by the Legislature in a special session in 2005."
Gibbons said Tuesday that he wants to make sure SB567 "doesn't
obligate the state to an expensive piece of litigation down the road," filed by individuals, corporations or contractors who relied upon the tax break law in starting green construction projects.
Several companies have been approved for tax exemptions. One company, MGM Mirage, qualified for up to $80 million under the 2005
law, according to lawmakers.
SB567 suspends action by any state agency on the tax exemptions. Lawmakers have said that the tax breaks could cost hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues to counties and schools.
If Nevada schools fall short of a certain amount in property tax revenue, the state must make up the difference from its general fund. That's what lawmakers are most worried about in trying to complete work on a nearly $7 billion budget for the coming two fiscal years.
Gibbons said he had asked legislators to ensure that SB567 included a "grandfather" clause to preserve tax breaks for qualifying projects. But the governor said he was told that a specific definition wasn't included in the bill out of concern that it could add to the potential for lawsuits.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)