Legislature back to square one

The gambit didn't work -- at least not early Tuesday morning as the Nevada Legislature adjourned without raising taxes.

In a special session running through Friday, something still has to give, as the Senate and House did pass a state budget that somehow needs another $860 million in revenue.

The votes still may not be there in either the Senate or Assembly to get the two-thirds majorities need to approve a tax increase. That means some deals will have to be made, and it's not clear how many options are left.

On Monday night, Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, attached a long-awaited tax plan to the bill funding kindergarten through 12-grade education. The taxes included the so-called "unified business tax," a not-so-disguised version of Gov. Kenny Guinn's gross-receipts tax.

The tax still would hit about 3,000 businesses in the state with a .25 percent charge against revenues.

The plan also includes a smorgasbord of other increases -- cigarettes, liquor, gaming, live entertainment -- but it's the business tax which remains the sticking point.

The 11th-hour tactic of tying school funding to the tax increase managed to get the bill out of a Senate committee -- with three Republicans and a Democrat voting in favor, and two Republicans and a Democrat voting against.

The committee vote illustrates the deep divisions within the parties over how the spending and taxing plans are playing out. There's not much to indicate a special session is going to straighten things out, but lawmakers now have little choice but to come up with something that not only will work but will attract enough votes to pass.

In many ways, they're back to square one.


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