CARSON CITY – The day after a judge found its petition defective, the Nevada State Education Association filed a new petition Tuesday seeking to impose a 2 percent margins tax on businesses to raise $800 million a year for public education.
Gary Peck, executive director of the state umbrella organization for unions representing teachers and support staff, said their lawyers made minor changes to the petition that District Judge James Wilson found defective Monday and immediately filed a new one with the secretary of state’s office.
Next week, circulators will be stationed at grocery stores, post offices and other locations across the state in a move to collect the 72,234 signatures needed to force the Legislature to consider the tax during the February session.
Peck said that public education is “woefully underfunded” in Nevada and that polls show major support for the tax increase.
Under the tax proposal, the first
$1 million in business revenue would be exempt from taxes. Some, but not all, expenses of companies then would be deducted before the 2 percent tax is calculated.
A national Kids Count study in July ranked Nevada 50th in public education and among the worst states for children’s well-being.
Wilson ruled that the first Education Initiative violated a state law that limits petitions to one subject. He said that the business tax proposal called for both a business tax and the public disclosure of what companies pay in business taxes.
The section on public disclosure has been removed, and other small changes were made, Peck said.
Josh Hicks, the lawyer for the business groups that challenged the initial petition, warned on Monday that he would be reviewing the new petition and might challenge it in court if he found legal problems. Hicks represents the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, which consists of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Nevada Taxpayers Association and other business organizations.
He said Tuesday he has not reviewed the new petition.
If a judge finds that only one word in a petition must be changed, all signatures previously gathered by supporters are invalid.
While waiting for Wilson to act on the first petition, the education association decided against circulating the first petition. But the union intends to start collecting signatures for the second petition soon, risking the chance a judge again might find changes must be made.
The union has until Nov. 13 to collect the signatures. If it reaches that goal, the Legislature in the first 40 days of the session next year must consider whether to adopt the tax. If legislators don’t, then the matter would be placed before voters in the November 2014 election.
NSEA President Lynn Warne has said she does not expect the Legislature to approve the tax, but that their polls show 2 to 1 support for the tax increase.
In addition to the teachers union, the petition’s sponsors include the AFL-CIO.
Contact reporter Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.