MY COLUMN: One Nevada

Carson City, Jan. 5, 2015 – Gov. Brian Sandoval and legislative leaders today announced the “Moving Nevada Forward” plan, a combination of taxes and reforms that they said will lay the groundwork for the state’s future.

With the quartet of legislators arrayed behind him in front of the state Capitol, and in a scene reminiscent of last year’s Tesla announcement, Sandoval invoked the economic development triumph in his remarks.

“This is the right thing to do for our state and how fitting that we can announce this shortly after the sesquicentennial,” said Sandoval, fresh off his 73 percent showing in the election. “Tesla changed our state’s trajectory. But to make sure we keep going upward, we need to address the coming strain on our infrastructure.”

Fiscal experts said the new tax package likely won't raise enough money to take care of all of the state's needs. They estimated the sales tax on services, considering the lowering of the overall rate, would raise at least $100 million a year. The Nevada Support Tax was expected to bring in $250 million a year.

Sandoval’s remarks were frequently interrupted by applause from lobbyists who crammed onto the Capitol grounds, along with most of the Gang of 63. Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who had been talking to the governor during the election cycle about such a plan, also spoke at the event.

“What I want to tell you,” Kirkpatrick began, “is that this took a lot of hard work in a bipartisan fashion. It wasn’t just the governor, but Senator Roberson, whom I congratulate on being elected majority leader. They made concessions. We made concessions.”

Indeed, both sides did.

Here are the contours of the MNF package – Sandoval joked that it did not stand for “Monday Night Football” but he was sure there would be plenty of Monday Morning Quarterbacking (that’s what I’m here for):

►A tax not dissimilar to the recently defeated margin tax, but with a .5 percent rate instead of 2 percent and called “The Nevada Support Tax.”

A sales tax on services (here come the lobbyists asking for exemptions) that also lowers the overall sales tax rate to 4 percent.

A plan to allow bonds to automatically roll over to help with school construction, with legislative audits mandated to ensure taxpayers are not being fleeced.

A combination of tweaks to the collective bargaining laws, an expansion of charter schools and a school choice pilot program, which Republican lawmakers were thrilled to insert into the package during private negotiations that, sources said, began midsummer last year and were completed shortly after the November election.

“We now have the tools to really move this state progressively into the future,” said newly minted state Senate Minority Leader Tick Segerblom. “I was disappointed in the failure of TEI (The Education Initiative), but this makes up for it. I’d also like to thank Harry Reid for making this possible.”

When asked by a reporter what Reid had to do with the deal, Segerblom smiled, then laughed and said, “Nothing. But I figure I’m supposed to say that.”

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey told the group that he was “proud of the governor and my colleagues for working together to make this happen. This was not easy. But we all see what the potential is here.”

When asked if he was just using the Tesla impacts to do what needed to be done anyhow, Sandoval smiled, gave his trademark chuckle and said, “Absolutely not. This is the right thing to do for the great state of Nevada.”

Segerblom interrupted and said, “Who cares how he got there? He got there!”

Roberson said he was still upset by the stunning loss of SJR 15 at the ballot, the measure that would have taken mining taxation out of the Constitution. But, he added, that this made up for it.

“I’m sorry voters were confused by Question 2,” Roberson said. “But I give the mining industry credit for being part of this solution and agreeing to pay the new, improved, not-job-killing margin tax.”

Sandoval announced at the end of the news conference that there would be a party that evening to celebrate the MNF pact on the new Tesla gigafactory site.

“What are you serving, tax breaks and free roads?” the Gazette-Journal’s Ray Hagar yelled from the peanut gallery.

But nothing could spoil the ebullient capital mood, as Kirkpatrick hugged Roberson, Sandoval embraced Hickey and Segerblom pulled a strange-looking cigarette from his breast pocket.



Great imagination er prognostication and you will be able to say we heard it first from you. Thanks Jon