Assembly works on its own highway funding measure |

Assembly works on its own highway funding measure

Associated Press Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada lawmakers continued closed-door meetings Tuesday to negotiate the final details of a record $7 billion state budget for the next two fiscal years. From left, Assemblyman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, legislative fiscal analyst Gary Ghiggeri and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.

With only a few days left in the 2007 session, the Nevada Assembly is putting together its own proposal to divert taxes to pay for road projects – and a plan to let voters decide how to raise money to meet the state’s burgeoning transportation needs.

The state is expected to be short $5 billion by 2015 on funds for road projects, partly due to high inflation rates on construction materials.

Assembly Transportation Chairman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, said Wednesday his plan will not involve new taxes or fees, and will be based solely on diverting existing taxes.

“We want to raise enough to get a few projects going and to keep the roads in the repair mode and then we will ask voters how they want to pay for roads in the future,” Atkinson said. He would not disclose any further details.

Voters would be asked to choose among several options, which could include raising taxes paid by the trucking industry, and raising gaming taxes, Atkinson said.

The Assembly Transportation Committee is scheduled today to review AB595, a measure that would increase weight-and-distance taxes paid by the trucking industry to raise $1.4 billion to pay for road projects.

Also, the Senate introduced Gov. Jim Gibbons’ highway funding plan on Tuesday. That plan would divert an unknown amount of money in room taxes from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, starting with $20 million in the first year.

The authority has said interference in that revenue stream could be illegal because it would affect its bond financing.

Atkinson said the problem with the governor’s plan is that it targets only one source.

“Everyone has said there’s a lot of problems in that and it also sets us up for a lawsuit later on down the line,” Atkinson said.

A separate proposal brought by Sens. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, and Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, combines an increase in diesel fuel taxes, an increase in the per-trip fee paid by cabbies and a diversion of room and property taxes to raise about $2 billion.

A hearing on that proposal has been delayed until today. It hasn’t been introduced in bill form yet.