Special session starts 4 p.m. today
Saying the state needs a tax plan that will fund operations of state government, Gov. Kenny Guinn ordered lawmakers back to work today.
He called a special session beginning at 4 p.m. – just 14 1/2 hours after the 2003 regular session adjourned, directing them to finish their business by 5 p.m. Friday.
The Nevada Constitution mandates an end to the regular session at midnight on the 120th calendar day. Only the governor can call a special session beyond that point.
Guinn said the initial agenda will be strictly limited to the public education funding measures which failed to pass and the tax plan needed to raise $860 million and balance the state’s $4.92 billion general fund budget over the next two years.
He can expand that agenda at any time during the special session and said there are “a few bills, maybe 9 or 10” which deserve to survive and become law.
“We’ll give consideration to those after we come to a conclusion to our tax problem,” he said serving notice lawmakers will get those measures only when they agree to fund the budget.
He made it clear the budget bills will not be reopened for lawmakers to consider — cutting off the hopes of tax opponents who say the answer is not raising taxes but cutting programs.
Asked about the claims of business lobbyists that they can hold everything up until he agrees to reopen and cut the budget, Guinn said, “I’m not going to respond to that.
Guinn said he is still looking not for a Bandaid but “a solution that will be an advantage to the state for years to come.”
Other than a universal tax on services, he said he hasn’t ruled out anything.
“There are six or seven that have been projected,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll end up with abroad-based business tax.”
Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said a wide range of ideas will be looked at including payroll taxes, sales taxes, room tax increases, a net profits tax similar to that proposed by teachers in 2001.
He said there are different levels of support for all those tax proposals and that lawmakers will just have to see which can finally win two-thirds support in the Senate and Assembly.
He also indicated he doesn’t see major cuts in the budget as the answer.
“Everybody likes a tax that doesn’t affect them,” he said. “But at this time in the state’s economy — the needs, growth — we have to fund the state’s economy.”