The courage of Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske could make the 2022 election in Nevada much more interesting.
At issue, two tax initiatives sponsored by the Clark County Education Association. The first would increase the gambling tax rate on gross income from 6.75% to 9.75%. The second would increase the sales tax by 1.5 percentage points. In Clark County, that would be almost 10% of the sales tax. Combined, these tax hikes could generate around $ 1.4 billion a year. The union once said that so much money should be taken from the private sector for education.
But now union officials have asked Cegavske’s office to keep the two initiatives out of the ballot. Their excuse is that in the last legislative session, politicians increased the mining tax, directing money to public schools.
This tax increase will bring in about $ 160 million per year. It is not nothing, especially when it is addressed to a single recipient.
At 12 cents on the dollar, however, that’s a far cry from what CAMC executive director John Vellardita said last year was needed to fund “the scale of the challenge.”
The problem with the union is that the Nevada constitution says that “the secretary of state will bring” initiatives to the voters. There is no âtake-backâ clause.
In recent years, the legislator has attempted to create one. Based on these laws, Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office issued an opinion in July stating that “shall” actually means “may.”
Defending the constitution can be lonely. But Cegavske did just that. In a recent letter to Ford, she wrote that the legislature elsewhere “recognizes” must “as imposing a mandatory duty.” She plans to “put the initiative petition on the ballot in the general elections of 2022”. Its actions are likely to upset many business lobbyists who would like to see both initiatives rejected – and the sooner the better.
A trial seems inevitable. The Nevada Supreme Court enforcing the clear wording of the constitution is a cinch, so maybe the initiatives won’t go to a vote.
But if they do, it will be a major headache for Democrats. The sales tax increase is likely to be extremely unpopular. After the coronavirus pandemic, even the gambling tax is far from certain.
If Governor Steve Sisolak opposes these taxes, he will oppose CAMC, one of his main political supporters. The mere presence of these initiatives on the ballot would serve as a reproach to his administration. They are sending the message that his own ally did not believe Sisolak had kept his promises on education. Sisolak’s office did not respond to the request for comment.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo has said that while he opposes taxes, he supports Cegavske’s decision. âIt’s one of the things to be a constitutional expert. You have to respect it even if you don’t like the result, âhe said in a statement. Dean Heller’s campaign said it would not be able to provide a comment on time.
Perhaps the union will publicly oppose both of his initiatives. This would reduce the pressure on Sisolak and the Democrats, but it would force Vellardita to admit that he was crying wolf about funding education. Either way, if these initiatives are on the ballot, it will be a political opportunity for Republicans and a threat to taxpayers.
Contact Victor Joecks at [email protected] or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter