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Sandoval lambastes Laxalt proposal to repeal Commerce Tax

Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Stewart Boss released the following statement: “Adam Laxalt’s pledge to repeal Nevada’s bipartisan increase in education funding has drawn a sharp rebuke from Governor Sandoval, firm opposition from Democratic leaders, and nothing but craven silence from his sidekick Senator Roberson. This right-wing attack on students shows how Adam Laxalt would lead our state down a path defined by fringe ideology instead of working together to strengthen Nevada’s education system for our 21st century economy. The end result of Adam Laxalt’s radical plan would be taking teachers out of the classroom and gutting investments in our schools, and he will be forced to defend this on the campaign trail.”

The Nevada Independent: Sandoval lambastes Laxalt proposal to repeal Commerce Tax

By Riley Snyder, Megan Messerly, Jackie Valley
October 10th, 2017


  • Gov. Brian Sandoval said Monday a proposal by incipient gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt to repeal his signature achievement would “irreversibly and permanently harm” children, public education and the state’s business climate.
  • Sandoval said Monday that he hasn’t spoken with his fellow Republican on erasing the Commerce Tax, levied on businesses that gross more than $4 million annually. But he said eliminating it would erase a “generational investment” in Nevada children, and that anyone seeking to remove the revenue source needed to first identify which areas they would cut.
  • “Anyone supporting a repeal of the Commerce Tax must explain to Nevada’s children, families and businesses which education initiatives will be cut if it is eliminated,” he said in a statement. “Will they cut gifted and talented programs, end all-day kindergarten, eliminate special education resources, decrease literacy programs that help students read by third grade, cut autism funding, stop career and technical education, and get rid of technology in schools grants? Any discussion of eliminating this revenue source must include answers about where in the budget they will cut.”
  • The attorney general detailed the proposed repeal on the Issues page of a campaign website taken down in the wake of last week’s mass shooting that left 58 dead and nearly 500 wounded — a position he has held since 2015.
  • But backers of the tax repeal re-launched efforts to qualify a 2018 ballot question in August, and between Laxalt and state Treasurer Dan Schwartz — who announced his gubernatorial bid in September — two potential Republican successors to Sandoval seem unwilling to back one of his crowning achievements.
  • Senate Democratic Leader Aaron Ford, who is seeking Laxalt’s job, said in a statement his caucus will “fight tirelessly” against any effort to repeal the Commerce Tax, which he said would “threaten our progress and sabotage this desperately needed education funding.” He noted that the tax increase, spearheaded by Sandoval, passed with bipartisan support.
  • “Every Republican legislator and candidate should condemn this partisan attack on Nevada students and commit to opposing any effort to undo Governor Sandoval’s increase in education funding,” Ford said in a statement.
  • Republican Senate Leader Michael Roberson, who has closely aligned himself with Laxalt amid his own announced run for lieutenant governor, didn’t respond to requests for comment on Laxalt’s plan to repeal the tax. But the Republican spent much of his political capital in shepherding the tax through the 2015 session, and has continued to defend his decision to vote for it as recently as August 2017.
  • Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, a Democrat, said that businesses in Nevada are looking for a stable tax climate and that repealing the tax would undo that certainty. “I would see a repeal of that measure as a significant hit to what is already an underfunded public education system by a significant amount, hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “But I also think that symbolically, to repeal one of the few instances not only in Nevada but in the country in recent years where there was a bipartisan effort to do the right thing, seems to me to be putting politics and rhetoric over children and teachers.”
  • The potential repeal doesn’t sit well with Educate Nevada Now, which has been fighting for an overhaul of the state’s education funding formula. Sylvia Lazos, the nonpartisan organization’s policy director, said the plan is “shortsighted” and could further hinder efforts to bolster Nevada’s public-education system.
  • “We are against it just because there is not enough money for education right now,” she said. “In fact, our money is so low that it creates the situations we’re seeing in Clark County.”
  • The Clark County School District is grappling with an estimated $60 million deficit that its leaders have blamed on a combination of chronic underfunding from the state and rising employee costs. Lazos said the tax repeal could jeopardize a number of the governor’s education reforms, such as the Read by Grade 3 initiative and Zoom schools, which receive extra money to help students who are learning English. “It would be disastrous,” she said. “At the end of the day, we can’t keep talented teachers right now with the current (funding) formula.”