Candidates for both the Assembly and Senate seats in western Nevada tip-toed carefully when faced with the issue of raising taxes at Monday's League of Women Voters forum.
Assembly District 38 candidates Democrat George Dini and Republican Tom Grady were joined by Assembly District 40 candidates Democrat Stacie Wilkie and Republican Ron Knecht in the debate at the Carson City Community Center. Their question and answer session was followed by incumbent Republican Sens. Mark Amodei in the Capital District and Randolph Townsend in District 4 squaring off against their Independent American Party opponents Dave Schumann and Mark Holloman. About 40 people showed up at the center for the televised debates.
With the exception of the IAP candidates, all made it clear they want to wait and see what the Governor's Task Force on Tax Policy comes up with before deciding what to support.
All four Assembly candidates agreed there are needs the current system can't meet. Wilkie said she has seen the needs as a school board member and Dini agreed but said his concern is protecting small business. Knecht, however, said he believes other ways can be found to fix the problems and said he would wait until all the facts are known before deciding what to do.
"We need to look at both sides of the ledger -- expenses as well as revenues," he said.
Grady went a step further saying, "Let's see if there's some waste in government we can stop."
In the Senate debates, Townsend said whatever the governor's tax task force recommends, it should be taken to a series of public hearings around the state before legislative action. And Amodei expressed concern about the impact the proposed "gross receipts" tax on business would have, especially on small businesses that have moved to Carson City in recent years.
Schumann and Holloman both opposed new taxes. Schumann said reclaiming 87 percent of Nevada from the federal government would give the state a bigger base to raise the money needed to provide governmental services. Holloman said he wouldn't raise taxes but would explore making existing levies more equitable: "We should make sure everybody participates in taxes."
There were also differences between the candidates over Yucca Mountain. There, Knecht said he thinks the battle has been lost.
"I think one way or another we are going to be stuck with this and I think, we should have faced this earlier."
He said the state should get as much money and concessions from the federal government as possible for the dump.
Wilkie said the fight may be lost "but I still feel we need to fight not to have nuclear waste trucked through our state and dumped in our state."
Dini and Grady agreed even though they said Nevada may eventually lose the fight. That was the sentiment of Amodei and Townsend as well.
Schumann and Holloman, however, said the battle was lost when Nevada became a state without ownership of the vast majority of its own land. Without ownership of the land, they said Nevada can't stop the dump.