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Deal close with mining industry

CARSON CITY — Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, says legislators are "almost there" when it comes to striking a deal with Nevada’s mining industry that would help state government dig out from a budget shortfall estimated at nearly $900 million.

Oceguera said the deal would be mostly fees with "a little" from pre-payments of taxes, which would be worth $75 million to $100 million to the state.

"Mining has stepped up and said they want to be part of the solution, so it is just the fine details on how that solution comes about," Oceguera said.

Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, said mining company executives have told him they are willing to give the state $30 million to $40 million to help with the deficit.

In addition, they expect to give $60 million more to the state March 1 when they make their net proceeds of mineral payments, said Rhoads, whose district contains 95 percent of the state’s gold mines. The additional revenue comes from the price of gold topping $1,100 an ounce. The Economic Forum estimated the state would receive $28 million in mining taxes during the current fiscal year, based on lower prices for gold.

If $60 million in additional taxes are received, Budget Director Andrew Clinger said, Gibbons would withdraw his proposal to seek $50 million more from mining by changing deductions companies can make before calculating their due taxes.

"We want to be sure mining is part of the solution," said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas.

Horsford said legislators would leave the $50 million proposed by Gibbons in the package of budget solutions on the chance a higher amount later would be approved by the Legislature.

Sources indicated that Horsford still wants mining to kick in $100 million or more to cover part of the shortfall.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-697-3901.

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