Legislative committee to study tax abatements

Tesla sign at Gigafactory in Storey County
Tesla sign at Gigafactory in Storey County(Terri Russell)
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 2:17 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Three months ago, the Governor’s Office on Economic Development approved Tesla 2. The deal meant $330 Million dollars in tax breaks for Tesla’s investment of three billion dollars into an electric semi-truck factory in Storey County.

A similar deal was made with Tesla ten years ago through legislation that took all decisions out of lawmaker’s hands and placed them into the Office Economic Development.

“We did give away our power,” says Senator Dina Neal, a Democrat representing District 4 in North Las Vegas. “We have no say in a $330 million dollar tax abatement.”

Senator Neal wonders if lawmakers shouldn’t take that power back. That’s why she came up with Senate Bill 394.

But after a two-hour hearing in which a majority of the audience was opposed to it, Senator Neal has reimagined the Senate bill.

“We have an interim revenue committee where we are allowed to bring, I believe it is up to 10 bills in the committee,” say Senator Neal. “We are going to discuss it during the interim and pretty much study the issue.”

The committee will use the time between legislative sessions to look at the practicality of abatements, their impact on the state budget, their impact on local communities, and even the delegation of power.

Senator Neal says The Governor’s Office on Economic Development is on board with the study. She says that will allow for a balanced conversation as well as a uniform understanding on the impact of tax abatements and what they might look like in the years to come.

“How much tax revenue should we not receive in exchange for corporate development?” asks Senator Neal. “I think the legislature needs to be a part of that conversation beyond just our ability to appoint to the GOED board.”

Neal says expect legislation based on facts and research to come out of this study and introduced during the 2025 legislative session.

She says she hopes to answer questions she believes many Nevadans have about deals like Tesla 2.

“Should we always be doing to corporate giveaways when we know you can afford it?” Neal asks.

“Tesla can afford to develop for themselves. So why are we giving them a hand up when we already did that once? Why would they need it twice? I think a lot of people have those questions. He is a billionaire.”