Gibbons not sure yet of political plans | NevadaAppeal.com

Gibbons not sure yet of political plans

Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., said Thursday he hasn’t decided his future political direction yet.

He has repeatedly been mentioned as a candidate for Nevada governor when Kenny Guinn leaves office in two years. Friends and colleagues, however, said earlier this year he would likely remain in Congress if he were awarded the chairmanship of the House Select Intelligence Committee.

That post, however, went to Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., earlier this week, again raising speculation Gibbons would return to Nevada to run for governor.

“I’m more focused right now on the 2004 election in November and the two years ahead of us in the U.S. Congress,” he said. “During that period of time, I’ll then look at the opportunities coming up in the next cycle.”

Gibbons also said he hasn’t given up on his bill that would increase Nevada’s share of revenues from federal land sales in Southern Nevada. He described that measure as a way of replacing funding that will be taken from public schools and universities in the state once the estate tax is repealed.

Gibbons is a key supporter of efforts to repeal the estate tax, revenues from which are now split between grades K-12 and the university system in Nevada. That tax is currently imposed on the estates of people who are worth $1.1 million or more when they die. It is not imposed on smaller estates.

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A total of $120 million in the university system budget and public school accounts this biennium comes from the tax. State fiscal officials say the tax can be counted on for at least $32 million a year.

Gibbons has proposed replacing that money by increasing Nevada’s share of land-sales revenue from 5 percent to 35 percent and dedicating the difference to education.

He said such legislation could provide up to $350 million for Nevada schools as federal lands continue to be sold in Southern Nevada.

Reach Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.