Nevada governor could seek up to $1.4 billion in tax hikes

Gov. Kenny Guinn's proposed budget, to be detailed Jan. 20, could seek tax hikes of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion over the next two fiscal years, Guinn adviser Pete Ernaut says.

While Ernaut said those figures are simply his opinion, he agreed his would qualify as an informed opinion.

Ernaut, one of the crafters of the Republican governor's Jan. 20 "state of the state" address, said the speech will look ahead five to eight years.

"It's the most important 'state of the state' in the last 20 years," he said.

"Ultimately, the questions that will be asked of the legislators and voters are: What kind of Nevada do you want to live in? Do you want to fix this problem, or are you content to lead the nation in every bad category imaginable, especially education and health care?" he said.

Guinn has been using an $800 million estimate in describing what's needed just to maintain existing services adjusted for population growth. If another $400 million to $600 million is added, that would provide money to enhance some areas.

Ernaut said without the $800 million, legislators "will have to make draconian cuts to balance the budget."

"It means (kindergarten through 12th grade) with no sports, no music, no extracurricular activities," he said. "It means capped university enrollment, closing whole programs and buildings at the university, and raising eligibility levels for Medicaid, leaving senior citizens without health care."

An option is "going in there and fixing it the right way, looking at per-pupil spending and expanding Senior Rx," Ernaut said.


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