CARSON CITY — State Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson said Tuesday his 75-page bill to tax the mining industry another $300 million a year starting in 2015 remains the only viable tax proposal with a chance to pass before the Legislature adjourns June 3.
“It gives voters a choice,” said Roberson, R-Las Vegas, about the bill he might introduce in the Senate by Friday. “They can decide whether they want to approve it or not to approve it. Right now it is the only plan out there … The alternative is nothing substantial will get done.”
Legislative lawyers have prepared the alternative tax plan sought by Roberson and five other Republicans that they say will raise $300 million more for education. The plan calls for a 10 percent net profits tax on mining starting in 2015.
Under the bill, the tax plan would be placed on the 2014 election ballot as an alternative to the Nevada State Education Association’s plan to levy a 2 percent business margins tax. The proposal that received the most votes, as long as it was more than one-half, would be implemented in 2015.
The plan is also contingent on voters repealing a constitutional provision that caps mining taxes at 5 percent of the value of minerals, minus deductions.
But so far the Republicans plan have received little support. Gov. Brian Sandoval has threatened to veto it, Assembly Republicans have come out publicly as strong opponents, and Democratic leaders have said only that they might listen to the proponents’ arguments.
Roberson said he knows nothing about what Democrats plan to propose in their own yet-unannounced tax plan and joked that the plan, originally set for release last week, might not be introduced before 2015.
“I honestly don’t know what is in their plan, and it’s not for lack of effort on my part to sit down with them,” he said.
Roberson also said he knows no details about Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick’s proposed 8 percent live entertainment tax, details of which she announced Monday. Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, might introduce her bill Wednesday.
Under the Senate Republican mining tax plan, two-thirds of the money raised from the tax would go to public education. The other third would go into an educational trust fund for use by public education when revenue is low.
The bill also proposes increasing the current 2 percent payroll tax on banks to 2.5 percent for one year. That would provide initial funding for the trust fund.
In addition, the bill includes language to block the mining industry from suing to stop the plan before it goes to voters.
Roberson last week even rushed into an Assembly Taxation Committee hearing to warn members that mining industry lobbyists were trying to “deceive” them on another tax bill.
He said he has never attended any of fall meetings that the mining industry holds at Lake Tahoe for its members and legislators and does not expect an invitation this year for the event, which includes golfing and boat cruises.
Roberson maintained he has three reasons why he wants to give voters a tax choice: “the job killing margins tax has to go,” that it would provide long-term funding for education, and it would give voters “a chance to cut a better deal with mining in Nevada than we have had in the last 150 years.”
Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said they have not found a “willing partner” on their tax plan yet but hope to over the next three weeks.
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