Democratic legislative leaders’ tax briefing lacks details

CARSON CITY – Democratic leaders in the Legislature held a briefing on their stances on taxes Tuesday but gave no indication how much more revenue they believe should be added to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $6.55 billion budget, or how they intend to find the money.

In a 14-minute news conference, Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis and Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, both D-Las Vegas, said they intend to move forward on an examination of all current state tax sources and scrutinize state agency spending before coming up with a figure.

Denis said it will cost $60 million more to add full-day kindergarten in every elementary school, but he was not aware how much it would cost to reduce class sizes. They were two goals Democrats set before the session began.

Kirkpatrick said the 1.17 percent payroll tax, the modified business tax, needs to be replaced but offered no way to accomplish that. She said it made no sense to come up with a revenue plan now before they have all the facts they need.

Both said they are seeking citizen input on what Nevada needs and encouraged comment on the party’s building website.

After the meeting, Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, declined comment, saying there was nothing to say because Democrats don’t have a plan.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday that he needs something specific before he can comment on any Democratic tax plan. He again said he will not back any new taxes, other than continuing the so-called sunset taxes – $649 million in sales and business taxes that would otherwise expire after June 30.

Democrats need four Republican votes to pass any tax hikes or override a veto.

Democrats are following the trend of the 2011 session when they did not say until May that any new taxes are needed. Then they proposed a tax of services and a business margins tax that went nowhere.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.

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