Nevada Legislature: Gov. Jim Gibbons’ tax plan criticized
Associated Press Writer
Gov. Jim Gibbons’ plan to help make up for a huge state revenue shortfall by taking millions of dollars in funds that have been going to local Nevada governments faced more criticism Tuesday from county and city representatives and legislators.
During an Assembly Taxation Committee hearing, Washoe County Commission Chairman Dave Humke said the plan is a major policy change but there’s no written bill yet and the governor’s office didn’t advise county officials ahead of time about the proposal.
“That’s not very good government, whether it be local or state or some hybrid,” Humke, a former GOP assemblyman, added in talking about the Republican governor’s plan.
Jeff Fontaine of the Nevada Association of Counties said local governments understand the magnitude of the shortfall problem, but taking the local funds is “not in the best interests of the citizens of our state.”
Bob Hadfield, also representing NACO, said counties could lose access to a fund created years ago to help them handle costs of serious accidents involving indigents, adding, “We will have small rural hospitals that may not survive.”
Other elements of the governor’s plan would shift part of the property taxes collected in Clark and Washoe counties, Nevada’s largest, to the state; and increase the amount the state gets for handling sales tax collections for all counties.
The property and sales tax proposals alone would generate more than $108 million over the next two fiscal years, including about $89 million coming to the state from Clark and $16 million from Washoe.
Taxation Committee members joined in the criticism of the plan, saying it would be a hardship for local governments that already have been dealing with their own budget problems.
“What’s the motivation for local governments to have lean, efficient government?” said Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, adding, “What’s their motivation for having that if, when the state government gets in trouble, we just walk in and grab some of their money?”
“I mean, how do they proceed now? The only thing that makes sense is from now on they grow their governments sufficiently so that the next time we come marauding through they’ve got some cushion,” Pierce said. “I don’t understand the philosophy here.”