Little money for Northern Nevada in ’05
Appeal Staff Writer
With lingering resentment over a bitter tax battle in 2003 that divided state lawmakers along party and regional lines, money was hard to come by for Northern Nevada this year, lobbyist Mary Walker told Carson City supervisors.
It was a group of mostly northern, rural, Republican Assemblymen who in 2003 held up an $833 million tax increase, leading to legislative deadlock, intervention by the Nevada Supreme Court, and generally the most vitriolic legislative session in recent history.
For that reason, the rural northern areas of Nevada wouldn’t be seeing much money coming out of the state anytime soon, Walker was told at the beginning of the 73rd session.
“It didn’t really hit me until I looked at appropriation bills (at session’s end). There was nothing but Clark County funded,” Walker said.
Carson City, in fact, was one of few northern areas to get one of its pet projects – the restoration of the Virginia & Truckee rail line – some state money. Lawmakers approved $500,000 for the V&T, 10 percent of what local officials were seeking.
Walker said she was led to believe the northern freeze-out wouldn’t last more than one year, and other than money, the session was an unqualified success for Carson City, Lyon County and Douglas County – the three areas Walker represents.
While the region’s representatives in the Assembly still championed Carson City’s measures, Walker said “we used our senators quite a bit this year” to make 2005 a success.
Most of Carson City’s efforts in 2005 were defensive in nature, working to block several measures, such as attempts to abolish a franchise fee on businesses that brings in about $4 million a year for Carson City.
“Some of this stuff could kill a rural (county),” Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira said.
The city’s proactive efforts were successful, too.
Of 14 bills proposed by the tri-county area Walker represents, she killed four herself and nine of the remaining 10 passed – a far better success rate than the nearly 600 other bills Walker was tracking, only 42 percent of which made it to the governor’s desk.
The city’s high-priority bills that made it through included the V&T appropriation, a measure to allow rural counties to increase gas tax along with inflation with local voter approval, and the ability to use a redevelopment-like tax incentive program to help pay for extending utilities into underserved areas.
Supervisors on Thursday approved a $37,000 contract with Walker, who was Carson City’s finance director in the 1990s, to work on legislation at interim meetings throughout the next year.
– Contact reporter Cory McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.