Liberal group calls for heftier mining taxes

CARSON CITY — Leaders of a Nevada organization argued Thursday that the mining industry is “putting the muscle” on legislators to force them to vote against a resolution that with voter approval could bring higher mining taxes in 2015.

“They are spending millions to gain billions,” said Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada leader Bob Fulkerson during a rally attended by about 50 people in front of the Legislative Building.

Fulkerson also said that there are more mining industry lobbyists, 23, than senators, 21, and mining is putting full-court pressure on lawmakers to vote against Senate Joint Resolution 15.

The proposed constitutional amendment, passed in the 2011 Legislature, would be placed before voters in the November 2014 election, if approved again this session. The resolution would remove the constitutional requirement that mining companies pay taxes on “net proceeds.”

Instead legislators could start setting the tax rate and levy taxes on mining’s “gross proceeds,” or the value of minerals without taking any deductions.

The Nevada Mining Association issued a statement that if the alliance only looks at mining’s net proceeds tax payments and ignores what it pays in other state taxes, then if the same logic were used for the retail industry, the conclusion would be it pays zero in state general fund taxes.

“All industries, including mining, make payments to the general fund through modified business tax contributions and portions of sales and property tax payments,” it said.

The Mining Association maintained mining companies and mining families pay 8.3 percent of general fund taxes, although mining represents 4.4 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.

The alliance is an umbrella advocacy organization that represents more than 40 liberal-leaning groups in the state.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.