At the stroke of midnight early Tuesday morning, Nevada lawmakers wrapped up their 120-day legislative session after passing a major tax hike and a budget with significant new investments in education.
Granting Governor Brian Sandoval’s, R-NV, wish, the Republican-controlled Senate and Assembly passed the largest tax increase in Nevada history. The governor’s office estimates the tax package is worth $1.1. billion.
Passing the tax increase wasn’t an easy pill for Republican to swallow because the conservative group tends to be very against tax increases, but they said they had to fix Nevada’s education.
“I think the key here is what we are investing in education. It’s not so much the tax itself; I’m a business owner, we pay these taxes. I voted to raise my own taxes, but it’s because of the investment,” said Assemblyman Paul Anderson, R-Clark County.
Assemblyman Anderson was credited with swaying crucial Republican votes in the Assembly so that the tax plan could get the two-thirds vote and pass 18 to 3 in the Senate.
“None of us wants to raise taxes. That’s difficult to do. The easiest thing is to say no and keep going, but for a lot of us — the status quo is no longer acceptable,” said Assemblyman Anderson.
Lawmakers say businesses looking to Nevada were hesitant to set up shop because of the education system.
“Education is key to economic growth; it’s key to growing our future leaders in Nevada. I think that’s what swayed most of us,” Anderson said.
Republicans say the tax plan isn’t a blank check, and there are accountability and benchmarks for student success.
However, education isn’t the only important part of the Governor’s tax package. The plan also changes the business license fee for companies in Nevada and increases the tax on cigarettes.
The Legislature also funded more than $7 billion for the state’s budget for the next two years. Bills that survived the deadline now head to the governor for his signature or veto.
Lawmakers will reconvene again in 2017.