Governor, controller exchange words over commerce tax petition |

Governor, controller exchange words over commerce tax petition

Gov. Brian Sandoval and Controller Ron Knecht got into an unexpected spat on Wednesday over Knecht’s petition to repeal the commerce tax and unbalance the state budget.

Asked how he would make up the more than $121 million revenue loss if the petition wins, Sandoval pointed to Knecht and said, “Ask him.”

“I won’t (make the cuts),’ said Sandoval.

Knecht charged back that he had presented lawmakers with a budget plan that contained “judicious cuts” amounting to more than the commerce tax would remove.

Sandoval responded that was just a half-hour legislative hearing and that the committee essentially dismissed Knecht’s proposal, prompting the controller to say: “that’s because they wanted to pass a huge tax increase.”

“You still haven’t answered the question,” said Sandoval. “What are you going to cut?”

Sandoval challenged him to answer the question right then and there.

“I’m going to put together a cut list,” said Knecht.

The exchange was an extension of comments Sandoval made to Jon Ralston last week, saying what happens in schools today will determine Nevada’s future.

“That is why a supermajority of the Legislature and I made a generational investment in the children of Nevada,” he said. “The millions of dollars the controller would like to take from education will irreversibly and permanently harm children, parents, teachers, classrooms and the ability to attract quality businesses to our state.”

The comments, unexpectedly pointed from a normally reserved governor, came a few days before the Monday Nevada Supreme Court hearing on the effort to block the petition asking voters to repeal the commerce tax.

The tax, expanding the base of who pays in Nevada, is levied on all Nevada businesses that gross more than $4 million a year.

The court took the case under submission following a 45-minute hearing.