CARSON CITY - A teachers union proposing a business tax says the plan won't hurt small companies or drive industry from Nevada.
The Nevada State Education Association will unveil its petition for a 3 percent to 5 percent net profits tax on March 21.
Businesses whose profits are less than $30,000 will be exempt, says NSEA lobbyist Debbie Cahill. ''If a business is struggling, it will not pay the tax,'' she adds. ''It will have a minimal impact on business.''
Businesses could pass the tax to consumers, but Cahill said that might cost a family just $7 more a year - the cost of a few video rentals.
The union must get 44,009 voter signatures by November to bring the issue before the 2001 Legislature. If the Legislature doesn't act, the proposal goes on the 2002 ballot so voters can decide.
Business groups are ready to fight the proposal, which they haven't seen yet.
''Until the teachers put it in writing, we don't know what we're against,'' said David Howard, representing the Greater Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce. But he noted a coalition has been formed by the state Chamber of Commerce, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and his group to fight the plan.
Cahill said a 3 percent tax on profits would raise about $200 million a year. The union wants part of that for teacher pay increases. It takes about $18 million a year to boost the teachers' salary statewide by 1 percent. Other programs such as teacher training also would be funded.
The proposed tax wouldn't be assessed on casino winnings, but resorts would pay the levy on such things as room revenue and restaurant and bar business. About one-quarter of the collect money would come from the gambling industry.
''We're not letting gaming off the hook,'' Cahill said. ''We're not in bed with gaming as Joe Neal suggests.''
Neal, a Democratic state senator from North Las Vegas, has launched a separate initiative to raise the gaming tax from 6.25 percent to 11.25 percent for the largest resorts.