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Nevada State Education Association submits petition for business tax increase

CARSON CITY – The Nevada State Education Association submitted to county election officials Tuesday 149,020 signatures of residents who want the state to impose a 2 percent business margins tax in a move to raise $800 million a year for public education.

Only 72,234 valid signatures are required to place the matter before the Legislature in February.

But even if Secretary of State Ross Miller rules in a couple of weeks that the Education First initiative petition has met that requirement, the teachers union still must win an appeal filed in the Nevada Supreme Court.

A business organization called the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs won a District Court case that threw out the petition.

The union then appealed, and oral arguments have been set before the Supreme Court on Dec. 5 in Las Vegas.

NSEA President Lynn Warne said she was confident that her organization collected sufficient valid signatures and will prevail in the court appeal.

She also expects the Legislature to approve the tax increase next year.

“We are confident that 149,000 signatures are a mandate that parents and voters are tired of seeing K-12 education shortchanged,” she said. ”They want our youngsters to be afforded the same opportunities as their peers around the country.”

In some states, three times as much is spent on each child’s education as in Nevada, she added. A Kid’s Count survey last summer ranked Nevada worst in the nation in support for education and near the bottom in other factors affecting the well-being of children.

But Gov. Brian Sandoval opposes the margins tax, and tax increases take at least a two-thirds majority of both houses of the Legislature to pass.

Even if all Democrats support the increase, Warne’s group must secure the support of a minimum of three Republican senators and one Republican Assembly member to pass the increase.

“We have to get some Republicans,” Warne said. “We feel there is Republican interest in seeing public education funded appropriately.”

If legislators reject the increases, then the matter would be placed before voters in the 2014 general election.

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

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