Beers introduces tax amendments

Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, on Monday proposed two constitutional amendments to limit the growth of governmental spending.

SJR5 and SJR6 are modeled after systems now in effect in Colorado and Michigan, respectively. SJR5 would limit the growth in public spending according to population growth and inflation. It would apply to every level of government in the state, including the smallest local governments.

SJR6 would set a maximum amount of state government spending based on the percentage in the state budget compared to total personal income in the state.

Both plans would require a vote of the people to raise or create any new taxes. Both allow the people to increase their own taxes, and both would require that any excess money raised by any tax be refunded to the people.

Beers said he is presenting both concepts to fellow lawmakers for discussion and consideration.

"They are approaches to stopping government from growing faster than the society that government is supposed to serve," he said. "There is a segment of Nevada that believes government is too big and should be reduced."

The expenditure limits in SJR5 allows lawmakers to increase a tax by a two-thirds vote - the rule currently in the state constitution. But it would refer that increase to the voters at the next general election for approval or rejection.

The proposed amendment also prohibits any new or increased property tax levies and requires a vote of the people at every level of government before increasing public debt.

SJR6 would limit total state expenditures to 3.6 percent of the total personal income in the state. The limits would not include highway money, funding required to pay public debts of the state, or anything enacted by referendum or initiative petition, as well as federal funding.

Both proposals would require the state, cities, counties and districts in Nevada to create a rainy day fund to cover emergencies that could interfere with providing services.

And both would require limit increases in the taxable value of real property.

Finally, both would require that any proposed amendments to the Constitution requiring expenditure of money also provide for imposition of a tax to generate the necessary revenue.

Beers said it will be up to the Legislature as a whole to decide which concepts would work best in Nevada.

In order to become part of the constitution, any proposal must first win approval of the Legislature and then be approved by Nevada voters in two successive general elections.


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