Speaker tells businessmen they will be taxed

Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, told business people Tuesday they are going to pay under any tax plan approved by the 2003 Legislature.

"Any tax bill sent to the governor will need Democratic support, and I can assure you any tax measure leaving the Assembly will include a broad-based business tax," he said during a statewide telephone news conference.

Perkins said he was making the statement because he resents attempts by business leaders in Nevada to close options that include levies on them even before the legislative session begins in February. He described the tax system in Nevada as "a three-legged stool."

He said one leg is the people who pay sales and property taxes, and the second is major industries which already pay specific levies -- gaming, mining and insurance.

"The third leg is the big business community who, right now, pay next to nothing," Perkins said.

He called for "new taxes on the largely untaxed big business community so we can create a community of equals."

Asked about the threat some businesses would leave the state if they are hit with taxes, Perkins said he doesn't believe that.

"I think I'm willing to call that bluff," he said. "I don't think it's going to happen."

Perkins said business leaders have been telling lawmakers and the governor for more than two years that they would "step up to the plate" and help with the added revenues needed by the state. But they have apparently backed off that pledge.

"I'm deeply disappointed in groups and individuals who seem to be discounting the report," he said. "These people are declaring themselves unavailable to help remedy the problems they helped create."

He said business people who said last year they would help are now playing "hide and seek" to evade new taxes.

Perkins said Gov. Kenny Guinn and the Legislature have worked for four years to reduce waste in government and that he doesn't buy the arguments enough waste can be trimmed from the budget to make tax increases unnecessary.

He said that would result in $30 million to $40 million in cuts at most -- a fraction of the estimated $800 Guinn says is needed to maintain existing services.

He said newly elected lawmakers who ran promising no tax hikes can't square that with their pledges to improve public education and public safety.

"At some point in time, we've got to sit down with folks and ask them what kind of Nevada do you want to be part of 10 years from now," he said.

Perkins said the answer is "a broad-based tax plan that treats everyone fairly and includes the business community."

He urged all members of the Legislature to begin the session with an open mind on what should be included in that plan and advised business lobbyists not to try narrow the Legislature's options before the session begins.


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