Business group takes stand on taxes!

The board of directors of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance today endorsed “in concept” a plan brought by Gov. Brian Sandoval to turn the business license fee into a progressive fee based on gross receipts.

The GEA board tried unsuccessfully last week to endorse the governor’s proposal, but failed to do so. However, spokesman Andrew Doughman said the group would continue to deliberate on the issue.

The result of that deliberation came today, with the resolution. The relevant portion:

“The board of directors supports the governor’s education policy priorities and endorses in concept Gov. Sandoval’s Graduated Business License Fee proposal; the board of directors expresses the desire to work with the governor and the state Legislature to perfect the Graduated Business License Fee proposal; this resolution does not preclude the endorsement of any compromise on taxes on business.”

That gives the GEA’s board enough wiggle room to try to amend the business-license fee idea, but at the same time, it puts the GEA out front among business leaders as the first organization to formally back the governor’s plan. In an email to board members last week, GEA President Tom Skancke said the group should not come out in favor of Sandoval’s education reforms and spending plans without also getting behind a method to pay for it.

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce declined once more today to take a firm position on any of the tax plans, saying it wanted to study the precise details of the plan. Here’s what the chamber had to say in a statement:

“It is critically important to provide our children with the best opportunities for future jobs, which is why the Las Vegas Metro Chamber is solidly in support of education reforms, so long as proper accountability measures are in place to ensure that they are tied to classroom achievement and improvement. The Metro Chamber also recognizes the need to adequately fund these important reforms. While there has been and continues to be conceptual hearings on the various tax proposals, we have yet to see any solid proposal in the form of a bill draft let alone a hearing on any specific plan. The Chamber is a business organization that is fully funded by its members. Where we have so much at stake in terms of educational attainment, workforce development, job creation and economic health, the Chamber has the responsibility to do a proper review of bill language and analyze the mechanics and impacts of specific options before taking a stance. In addition, our members are the ones being asked to pay for possibly the largest tax increase in Nevada history. They expect us to be their representatives and their voice in Carson City. They have the right to understand what they are being asked to pay for, the impacts of any proposed tax increases and the effects on the future health of our economy and job creation in this state.

“The Metro Chamber continues to have a full-time presence at the legislature and will continue to work hard on these issues through the legislative process. Once there is sufficient information (based on actual bills) to do a proper analysis of all of the options, the Metro Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee will be in a position to make the determination of what the Chamber will support.”

Good news, however: The governor’s bill is expected to be released today, and it will be heard by lawmakers next week!

Before taking a stance on the tax plan, the GEA commissioned economist Susanne Trimbath to study various plans, and Trimbath concluded the governor’s tax plan would have a “minimal impact” on economic development, the central mission of the GEA. But GEA CEO Jonas Peterson has reported that, of all the reasons companies give for not moving to Nevada, the reason most often reported is the poor education system.

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