Monday, May 13, 2013

The Big Question

Last Thursday, newly minted Nevada State Board of Education President Elaine Wynn described our public education system as "grossly underfunded". And she's not alone in saying this. We've been warned for years that we need better schools and better public infrastructure for a better economy. And Nevada now risks a costly law suit because our schools are so underfunded.

So far this session, we've seen jockeying in Carson City over the issue of education. A #NVLeg Republican has even stepped forward with his own tax reform plan to provide more public school funding. Unfortunately for him, he can neither amass a majority of legal experts nor a majority of his own party behind his proposal.

So where does that leave us? Here?

The plan would raise the payroll tax to 2 percent on mining, making it commensurate with financial institutions. Every business with a quarterly payroll of more than $62,500 will pay 1.5 percent (it is now 1.17 percent).

The source says the tax changes will result in $255 million over two years. Additional changes from the Economic Forum and other sources could get the plan to $310 million.

Here's how the three-tiered plan was explained to me:

Mining/financials: 2%

Everyone over 62,500: 1.5%

Nobody gets penalized if they go slightly over 62,500, they get hit with a smaller rate for the difference between 62,500 and what their actual payroll to a certain threshold is. For example, if your payroll is 62,501 you pay for that 1 dollar. So essentially, only the big folks will see a change are the bigger payroll companies, for everyone else everything stays the same.

This is supposed to be part of the compromise budget that #NVLeg Democratic leaders are offering to Republican leaders and various "business leaders". And hey, at least this seems to be legal. And it does provide more school funding.

Yet with that being said, something still doesn't feel right about this. Some are still suggesting that this should replace The Education Initiative. Really?

Yes, I know the Legislature is where tax policy should be handled... Ideally. And our teachers & students shouldn't have to wait for next year's election to receive the resources they need. Yet with that being said, can we afford any more band-aids on the giant stab wounds?

Of course, there's more of this to be released. We'll see where it goes. But at this point, I'm wondering if any of the latest tax proposals to float around Carson City is truly preferable to letting the people decide next year (and do so with real solutions). We've seen the FAIL train leave the station there many sessions before. Will this session actually be different?

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