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EDITORIAL: Sandoval’s challenge

The most important figure of the 2015 Legislature will present the most important bill of the session today.

The pace of lawmaking in Carson City will slow considerably when Gov. Brian Sandoval appears before the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development at 1 p.m. to testify on behalf of Senate Bill 252, which would create a new business tax to fund his education agenda. (The hearing will be videoconferenced to Room 4412 of the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas.)

It’s not every day that the governor appears in the Legislative Building. And it’s not every day that the governor subjects himself to direct questioning from lawmakers. Gov. Sandoval’s testimony is indicative of both the political challenge he faces in gaining support for SB252, and his belief that the bill is the best way for Nevada to improve its underachieving schools.

The 200-page bill would change the state’s $200-per-year business license fee to a tiered tax of between $400 and $4 million per year. The new tax would be based on gross receipts, would hit different industries at different rates and would raise about $438 million over the next two years. The fact that the tax isn’t assessed at a uniform rate across the board, and the fact that it’s similar to ballot Question 3, which was rejected by voters in November, makes it a harder sell to some lawmakers. But the governor has been unequivocal in challenging lawmakers to present a better tax plan or cut his $7.3 billion budget proposal.

The governor’s responses to lawmakers’ queries will go a long way toward determining how quickly he gains support — or loses it. Regardless, we applaud Gov. Sandoval for defending his plan in person.

It’s his bill. It’s his vision. It’s his session.

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