According to my KSNV colleague Jon Ralston, Democrats will roll out a proposed tax package next week as the Economic Forum makes its final projections. The upshot is that the Dems — led by Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis — aim to cobble together various adjustments to existing tax structures in order to generate more revenue.
This past week, as we marked the two-thirds point of the legislative session, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson and five of his Republican colleagues proposed to generate more revenue to further fund education by levying a $600 million per biennium net proceeds tax on Big Mining. Dubbed the Education Priority Initiative, the plan’s aim is to reduce class sizes by hiring more teachers, fund English Language Learner programs and set up a stabilization fund dedicated to education. The new mining tax would take effect in November 2014, once voters passed SJR 15.
Roberson has said he’s been in contact with Democrats about the Senate GOP proposal, but we’ve not heard much about how those discussions are going.
However, today after the education town hall meeting in Las Vegas, Roberson replied to Tweets calling for more education funding now by Senators Justin Jones (D) and Debbie Smith (D). Here’s the exchange between him and Jones:
Are Roberson & Co. willing to agree to some tax increases now in return for Dem support for their proposed mining tax, either as a ballot alternative to the margins tax (which is Roberson’s stated goal) or as a stand-alone law subject to voter approval (which is not Roberson’s hope, but I wonder whether the Senate Six might find it an acceptable Plan B)?
Even if his Plan A is the only possible plan, Roberson’s Tweet signals that he is willing to talk about a deal that includes more revenue this session.
Despite the skepticism I have learned to bring to all conversations about grand bargains at the Legislature, I think a deal is possible. If the Democrats unanimously support one or more tax measures, they only need three Senate Republicans and one Assembly Republican to get to a veto-overriding two-thirds. We already know there are a handful of GOP Senators willing to talk about additional revenue if it is flagged for K-12 education. And much to what will be Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey’s chagrin, I’d guess that (at least) one Assembly GOP vote can also be had.
(Helpful note: If things get that far, that one Assembly Republican will have a great deal of power. He/she ought to start thinking about what he/she might want in return. And prepare for at least one visit to The Woodshed, aka Gov. Sandoval’s office, where carrots and/or sticks will be presented.)