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Nevada Republicans propose doubling the mining tax to help fund education

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Updated: 4/24/2013 4:47 pm
CARSON CITY (KSNV MyNews3) -- Senate Republicans say doubling the Nevada mining industries’ net proceeds tax could pump $600 million into Nevada schools. But the Republicans need both the Governor and Democrats on board -- and right now, they have neither. But on the day marking the two-thirds point of this session, Senator Michael Roberson asks: what does he have to lose?

“When the gold is gone -- mining is going to be gone -- we need a better deal for Nevada, for our kids, for our schools, for mining,” Roberson said.

Roberson says he’s making progress getting Democrats to support his tax plan.

“I’m sensing movement,” Roberson said. “Originally it was 'we don’t want to talk about it, we don't want to do this. [Now,] more and more Democrats are coming to me saying ‘you know what, let’s talk about it.'”

But Democrats have not embraced Roberson’s plan -- at least not yet.

“I haven’t seen a plan yet,” said assembly majority leader and Democrat William Horne. “There’s nothing in writing. It's a concept. We're happy that Republicans are finally talking about funding education that we've been doing for a lot of sessions now.”

Roberson's plan would double the tax on mining, raising it from five percent to ten percent. But the plan, dubbed the "Education Priority Initiative," all depends on whether the legislature passes SJR 15 -- the resolution to amend Nevada's constitution so mining could be taxed more. If it passes, the tax would take effect in November 2014.

Nevada mining association president Tim Crowley spoke against the proposed new tax.

"The Roberson tax would kill investment in mining ventures, adversely impact business relationships between mines and the 2,300 Nevada companies that serve the mining industry, and ultimately eliminate some of the best jobs in the state," Crowley said.

Crowley also added that the new tax would increase Nevada’s dependency on what he called a “volatile commodity” to increase state spending – a commodity that he says has already experienced its largest drop in nearly three decades.

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