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Tax increases 'on the table' in Nevada's 2021 legislative session

Posted at 7:47 AM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 10:54:01-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak proposed 2021-2023 biennium budget does not include tax increase proposals, pleasing legislative leadership on both sides of the aisle as they work to turn the proposal into a concrete spending plan for the next two years.

Democratic leadership in the Assembly and Senate say nothing is off the table when it comes to balancing the budget amid pandemic-related slumps in incoming tax revenue.

RELATED: Gov. Sisolak releases Executive Budget for the 2021-2023 biennium

"The governor's budget was wise to base its predictions and its plans on what we have for an anticipated revenue for the state," said Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro. "I think that's definitely a great starting point."

Cannizzaro says as the state faces a $500 million budget shortfall compared to the 2019 session, she's considering increased taxes on the large industries like mining which became the target of increases during the 2020 special legislative session.

"The testimony that we heard was that their revenue was in excess of seven billion dollars at a time when the state is really suffering," she said.

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said the one thing the Democratic Caucus would not consider are taxes levied against average Nevadans who're already struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.

"Whatever we do to raise revenue, we don't do it on the back of hard-working Nevadans. It's time for our business partners, particularly our large corporations, to step up and be at the table," he said.

To pass any tax increase without a supermajority, the Democrats will need support from the Republican caucus and their leadership.

RELATED: Education, health care among budget priorities for Nevada legislative leadership

Both Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer and Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus remained more hesitant to consider any tax increase ahead of the session.

"We've never had a hard, fast, line that absolutely categorically no increases," Settelmeyer said. "There is a conversation however of what section of society is doing well enough that they can sustain a higher tax rate?"

Settelmeyer says he was concerned that any tax on businesses at any level could eventually be passed down to the consumer hurting the people of Nevada.

"The average citizen is hurting, so how do we raise taxes on them?" he said.

Titus agreed and said she didn't see the need for a tax increase as the state's economy continues to recover from the effects of the global pandemic.

"We actually have an increased budget compared to what we left the special session with so, to me, that's not a budget cut," Titus said.

The state faced a $1.3 billion budget shortfall in 2020 which required severe budget cuts and draining of the rainy day fund to fill.