Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas made the prime argument in favor of Home Rule; “We have to think outside the box about the way we fund things.” She said Washoe County doesn’t have a revenue source for capitol improvement and the legislature should move forward and allow them to increase taxes for those improvements. This is the first time I have ever heard a Legislator think outside of Pandora’s political box in support of the premise of Home Rule.
Even Tray Abney, director of government affairs for the Chamber of Commerce, endorses the premise of Home Rule. He noted that it takes a two-thirds vote to increase taxes but the legislature is not raising taxes. They are allowing the School Board to raise taxes and — if they want to, they can do so.
I wonder if Abney would be willing to bypass Nevada’s Constitution and allow the District a one-time opportunity to initiate a lottery for education; that would generate about $250 million annually for all schools in Nevada. Or, give the District a one-time opportunity to get all of our property tax allocations back from our local governments that stole them to build their redevelopment and STAR bond districts.
Since Nevada’s gaming tax is the lowest in the nation, maybe Abney would give the District one-time only authority to raise local gaming taxes. And how about raising the room tax a few percent. Combined, that could generate millions. Oh, and how about an annual surcharge on business making over $500,000 annually.
If AB-46 does pass, it will be interesting to see if Governor Brian Sandoval signs it into law. Sandoval was elected on rhetoric promising support to fund education. But Sandoval’s Spokesman Stewart Bybee said there were some concerns because “ The bottom line is the school board is not a taxing authority.” We all know what that means.
School Board elections are non-partisan. As candidates for an agency with taxing authority, voters are entitled to know their political affiliations and fiscal priorities. Ira Hansen R-Sparks made a good point. He said voters were never informed the School Board candidates would have a say in raising taxes. And he’s right.
Abrogating taxing authority to any local government agency has been the mantra of those who have supported Home Rule. Little did we know that the Democrats would attempt to break down the political conditions that preserved the Power and control of the gaming industry and provides an opportunity for the local governments of Reno and Sparks to argue for Home Rule.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.