CARSON CITY, Nev. – The 2014 elections are still more than a year off, but teachers unions and other left-wing political groups in Nevada are already campaigning for a ballot initiative to increase taxes on businesses.
The proposed “margins tax” would apply a 2 percent revenue tax on Nevada businesses that earn more than $1 million per year, which the Nevada State Education Association contends would pump about $400 million per year into the state’s education system, the Las Vegas Sun reports.
The state teachers union is perhaps the biggest player supporting the new business tax proposal, and has already pledged $1 million to convince voters the tax is a good idea. The tax increase was proposed in the state legislature earlier this year, but lawmakers declined to take action, opting instead to let voters decide the issue next fall.
Now, the Nevada State Education Association – a major force in the state’s Democratic Party – is working with the front group Education Initiative PAC and others to create a grassroots campaign for taxing the state’s business an additional 2 percent for education.
And they seem to be making some progress.
The Las Vegas Sun reports smaller political groups like the Clark County Democratic Party, the Henderson Democratic Club, and the Latino Democratic Caucus have endorsed the tax plan and are working to convince other left-leaning groups to do the same. Other liberal groups, like the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and its the political arm – Progress Now Nevada – are also in support.
On the other side, the groups Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs and the Margin Tax Initiative Research Committee – which represent the Las Vegas Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Retail Association of Nevada, the Nevada Mining Association, and the Nevada Resort Association – are preparing to counter Big Labor’s tax campaign.
“We’re doing the same thing they’re doing, which is meeting with folks and drumming up interest,” Bryan Wachter, spokesman for the jobs committee told the Sun. “It’s a long ways ‘til November (2014).”
The reality is schools across Nevada could get along fine with the money they currently receive if it wasn’t for the expensive influence of collective bargaining, which the teachers unions use to extract as much money as possible from the system for teachers and other union members.
But a growing number of taxpayers are beginning to realize the amount of money invested in public schools doesn’t directly correlate to the academic success of the state’s students, especially when the money doesn’t come with accountability measures attached.
That’s likely why lawmakers, including Democrats endorsed by the teachers union, are hesitant to get behind the tax proposal. The Sun reports few lawmakers responded to the news site’s inquiry as to whether they support or oppose the tax, and Senate and Assembly Democratic caucus leaders said they won’t endorse the tax initiative in the near future.
“We’re kind of taking a wait and see on the information,” Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, a Las Vegas democrat, told the news site.
In other words, Democratic lawmakers are waiting to see if voters buy what the union is trying to sell them. Groups pushing the tax proposal are hoping the public campaign will sway voters in favor of the new tax, and plan to use that support to convince lawmakers seeking re-election to support the proposal, the Sun reports.
“If people really understand and realize the importance of education to our community at the grassroots level, it can create that groundswell,” Ed Long, president of the Henderson Democratic Club, told the Sun. “The politicians will feel a lot more comfortable and create a wave.”
Education reformers are hoping Nevada residents are smart enough to see through Big Labor’s efforts to increase union members’ compensation on the backs of the rest of the state’s residents.