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Judge blocks teachers union’s $1B sales tax plan

CARSON CITY — A Carson City judge on Friday blocked a sales tax increase proposed by a teachers union that would generate $1 billion per year in new state revenue.

But John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association which proposed the ballot measure, called the injunction from the judge “a bump in the road” and said the group plans to refile the petition soon.

The teachers union’s petition calls for an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the Local School Support Tax, a component of the state’s sales tax, from 2.6 percent to 4.1 percent. If the change were approved, the sales tax in Clark County would rise to nearly 10 percent.

Carson City Judge James Russell said in his ruling that the petition did not fully disclose what the average sales tax in the state would be if if the petition passed or where the all of the tax revenue would go.

BizPAC, the political arm of the Las Vegas Chamber, filed the lawsuit last month arguing that the petition’s description was misleading or inaccurate, such as the date that it would go into effect or the full impact of the tax increase.

“The Vegas Chamber will continue to oppose any tax increase put forth by initiative petition, particularly at this time with Nevada businesses and families being financially impacted by COVID-19,” said Mary Beth Sewald, president and CEO the chamber, in a statement.

A separate lawsuit was filed last month by the Nevada Resorts Association against the union’s other proposal, which calls for an increase in gaming taxes.

Vellardita said they were not surprised by the ruling, and that the union “actually agrees with the judge’s comments” about clarifying the petition’s description.

“We’ve always viewed this effort as an attempt to delay us from getting into the field and gather signatures so that there is less time to do it before the deadline in November,” Vellardita said.

Vellardita added that the union is “confident” in its effort, saying “we’re going to move forward.”

“It’s not going to be stopped,” Vellardita said.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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