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Nevada Legislature punts on 2 proposals to raise taxes for education | Las Vegas Review-Journal

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John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, talks to a reporter in 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

CARSON CITY — Voters will likely get the chance to decide if they want to raise gaming and sales taxes to send more than $1 billion in additional annual funding to education after the Legislature punted on the pair of proposals Friday.

The Clark County Education Association gathered more than double the needed 97,598 signatures to qualify as an initiative petition for the two proposed tax increases.

The Legislature has 40 days from the start of session to act on the initiative petitions, otherwise they are sent to the ballot in the next election.

Friday marked that 40-day deadline for the 2021 Legislature, with lawmakers taking no action on the proposals except to move them to the chief clerk’s desk — signifying their end this session.

One of the proposals calls for a 1.5 percentage point increase in the Local School Support Tax, a component of the state’s sales tax, which would generate more than $1 billion annually. The second would raise another $300 million by increasing taxes on the state’s largest and most profitable gaming establishments. Together, the two proposals aim to raise $1.4 billion in new revenue each year for Nevada.

John Vellardita, executive director of the teachers union, said Friday that he was not surprised that lawmakers chose not to take up the matter.

The backers of initiative petitions have the ability to withdraw their proposals before they go to the ballot. And that’s a move the union is willing to make, but only if lawmakers bring forward a separate education funding proposal that meets the their standards, Vellardita said.

“This is far from over. If there’s nothing that comes out of this session, then these will go to the ballot,” Vellardita said.

He said that if Gov. Steve Sisolak is serious about wanting to aid the state in its fiscal recovery from the post-pandemic downturn and diversifying the state’s tourism-reliant economy, then he needs to invest more in education.

“Bottom line is you cannot have recovery with the economy and you can’t have diversification of the economy if you are not investing in the K-12 system,” Vellardita said. “And this governor’s budget does not invest in K-12.”

The governor’s spokeswoman, Meghin Delaney, said in a statement that Sisolak is “focused on getting our State through this historic pandemic, rebuilding our economy, getting our students back to school, and improving our education system.”

“Nevada has faced an unprecedented health and economic crisis, and he would hope Nevadans can work together to meet our enormous challenges, rather than create more division,” she said.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

This content was originally published here.

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