Nevada lawmakers move to cut back on ‘green’ tax breaks | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada lawmakers move to cut back on ‘green’ tax breaks

JOE MULLIN
Associated Press Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, talks after a committee hearing Tuesday at the Legislature. Townsend chairs the Senate committee which voted for a bill Tuesday that would cut nearly $1 billion in "green" building tax breaks nearly in half. Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, is at left.
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A Nevada Senate panel voted Tuesday for a bill that lawmakers say will cut nearly $1 billion in “green” building tax breaks nearly in half.

The Commerce and Labor committee voted 3-2 to pass the bill, which now moves ahead to the full Senate. The bill was passed 39-0 by the Assembly on Saturday.

Under AB621, property tax breaks that were as high as 50 percent under the 2005 green building law would be cut back to 25 to 35 percent. Sales tax breaks would no longer be available.

Assembly lawmakers considered but ultimately rejected an attempt to take the tax breaks to much lower rates, ranging from 2 to 8 percent. Opponents of the 25-35 percent breaks said that’s still too much of giveaway to businesses.

“We are looking at a 10-year hole that we are giving the local government of Clark County,” said Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, who opposed the bill. “I understand this is a lot better than it was before, but I still have some very serious concerns.”

The proposal also requires a fiscal report to local governments, on what the impact of a property tax break would be. Under the plan, developers that had an actual construction or preconstruction agreement in place as of December 2005 would get the full benefit of the 2005 “green” law that offered major breaks in sales and property taxes.

“We will still lead the country in green development,” said Commerce and Labor Chairman Randolph Townsend, R-Reno. “This puts as fast a track as you can on it without cutting out public input.”

The fixer bill also makes clear that school districts will continue to receive the taxes they are entitled to, even from companies that get the tax breaks.

“We’re feeling grateful and relieved,” said Rose McKinney-James, a lobbyist for the Clark County School District. “We depend on those tax revenues.”

The estimated impact of the 2005 tax break law was about $918 million in lost property and sales taxes, and AB621 would reduce that to an estimated $493 million, based on the applicants that would qualify by having agreements in place by December 2005.

Under the 2005 law, local government would lose the most revenue, while the cost to the state would be more than $100 million. Under AB621, the state’s figure drops to roughly $70 million.

The Senate also voted to remove similar tax breaks that had been proposed for residential housing, by amending SB437. That bill could be considered by the full Senate as early as tomorrow.