Nevada Teachers Union Casino Tax-Hike Measure Goes on November Ballot

Posted on: March 15, 2021, 03:13h. 

Last updated on: March 15, 2021, 04:10h.

Proposals to ramp up gambling and sales taxes in Nevada to raise money for education will appear on the ballot next November. That’s after the state legislature opted not to take up the measures for consideration.

CCEA executive director John Vellardita has said he just wants to “start a conversation” about education funding in Nevada. (Image: Jeff Scheid/Nevada Independent)

One of the two proposals now headed for the ballot would hike taxes on casino revenues from 6.75 percent to 9.75 percent. The other would increase sales tax to almost 9.9 percent.

The initiative is spearheaded by the Clark County Education Association (CCEA), which represents Las Vegas-area teachers. The organization recently presented the 97,598 required valid signatures — representing 10 percent of the number of votes cast in the last election — to put these issues in front of the legislature.

The CCEA says the two measures would create more than a billion dollars for investment in the K-12 program.

Lawmakers have 40 days to act on the measures, after which the proposals automatically go to the public vote. That deadline expired Friday.

Bottom of the Class

Nevada’s casino taxes are the lowest in the US outside of Indian country, and the gaming sector, as the state’s economic engine, has always been protected by the legislature.

Sadly, Nevada also appears consistently toward the bottom of the education rankings. In 2019, it was 50th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, outranking only New Mexico.

The legislature’s Democratic leaders signaled their intention not to back the CCEA’s tax measures in January.

Senate Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-6th) told the Associated Press that Democrats want to raise revenue to support education. But they are not prepared to put further economic burden on working families struggling to cope with the economic pressures of the coronavirus. Nor do they want to burden the businesses that employ them.

Union Brinkmanship

CCEA executive director John Vellardita said this week that he simply wanted to “start a conversation.” The CCEA would be prepared to withdraw the proposals from the ballot, but only if the legislature is prepared to come up with a separate education funding proposal that the union can get behind, he added.

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

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.”

However, the Nevada Independent reports that questions are now being asked about whether the CCEA can actually withdraw the measures once they’ve been officially accepted. According to the Independent, this is uncharted legal territory, which suggests the proposals might be stuck on the ballot whether the union likes it or not.