LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — More money for our kids’ education may sound like a good plan for most and a teacher’s union is hoping it gets the support by asking the state to raise gaming and the sales tax to help pay for it.
But with a struggling economy during a pandemic, some business groups in the valley are saying that’s going to be a tough sell.
Nearly 200,000 signatures are how many the Clark County Education Association says it was able to gather in support of a gaming and sales tax hike to boost funding for education.
The number of signatures gathered is roughly double what’s required to get it to the state legislature for the 2021 session.
The state’s gaming tax rate would go from 6.75 percent to 9.75 percent. The sales tax hike would go from 8.375 to 9.875 percent in Clark County.
The gaming tax revenue would go into the state’s general fund where the hope is some goes towards education and the sales tax revenue part of it is already earmarked for education.
CCEA executive director John Vellardita says the sales tax hike could provide about a billion dollars in potential revenue to improve Nevada schools.
“You need to put the resources in the system and the price tag on the resources from three different studies in a billion dollars more each year,” he said.
However, the Vegas Chamber believes a tax hike is a bad idea in the midst of a pandemic.
“Increasing Nevada’s sales tax during COVID-19 would absolutely hurt families and cost jobs," said Vegas Chamber President and CEO Mary Beth Sewald.
She says this would make Nevada’s sales tax one of the highest in the nation.
“It would put our state in a position that is not competitive when it comes to people wanting to buy goods in Nevada," Sewald said.
She instead would be more open to a broader tax proposal that didn’t target specific industries. The Nevada Resort Association agreed in a statement saying:
“To be very clear, the gaming industry has consistently supported a broad-based business tax to support public education and has a long history of investing in Nevada’s classrooms. Broad-based taxes are a sound and stable approach rather than the volatility that comes with taxing a single industry, particularly one that is struggling to recover.”
Vellardita says the pandemic has shown the state it needs a more diversified economy and says it’s something the legislature will have to figure out.
“It’s up to the governor and lawmakers in the 2021 session to address the economy, to address finding more revenue, not cuts from our perspective,” he said.
If the legislature doesn’t take action or rejects the initiative, voters would then decide on the 2022 ballot.