Roberson confident that Sandoval won’t block alternative to teachers union’s tax
March 7, 2013
An alternative to the teachers union’s business tax may be on the 2014 ballot with the governor’s backing, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said Wednesday.He and several other Republican senators rolled out the plan Tuesday saying they will support passage of the amendment taking the special limit on mining taxes out of the Nevada Constitution.They said if mining pays some more, the “ruinous” business tax proposed by teachers can be avoided.They also said they will develop an alternative to that ballot question imposing a margins tax on businesses in the state.The teachers’ initiative petition will go directly to the ballot if lawmakers don’t act on it in the first 40 days of this legislative session — and they have already made clear they won’t. Likewise, SJR15, the to remove the constitutional limit on mining taxes from the constitution, will go directly to the 2014 General Election ballot.Neither will cross Sandoval’s desk.But any alternative to the teachers’ initiative Roberson and his caucus develop will have to be signed by the governor. If he vetoes it, it won’t reach the ballot unless lawmakers can muster a two-thirds majority in each house to override.Sandoval, through his spokesman Mary Sarah Kinner, said the governor would oppose anything that raises taxes.“The governor’s budget included increased spending for education without increased taxes,” Mary-Sarah Kinner said in a statement. “The governor will not support a tax increase.”“It’s not a tax increase,” Roberson said Wednesday. “That’s why it doesn’t require a two-thirds vote. It’s enabling legislation.”Roberson said the alternative will simply give the voters the decision whether to raise money, which he said Sandoval has agreed to in the past.“I’m optimistic that, once the governor sees the legislation, which isn’t even drafted yet, he’ll be supportive of giving voters a choice,” he said. “It’s a long way to the end of session.”Despite the initial reaction from the governor’s office and much more strident opposition from rural Republicans in both the Senate and Assembly — specifically to supporting the removal of mining’s constitutional protection — Roberson said he is going to push forward with the plan.But he objected to statements by Republicans in the Assembly and the suggestion by Sandoval’s office they weren’t told what he planned to propose.He was joined by Reno Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer who said they not only spoke to Sandoval’s staff but Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, before the Tuesday press conference.Roberson said what goes into the alternative ballot question is fully open to debate“Everyone needs to be involved, Republicans, Democrats, the Senate, Assembly, the governor, the mining industry,” he said.