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Commissioners won’t support business tax

by Christy Chalmers

Douglas County is opposing a business income tax petition that is being circulated by a state teachers union.

The county commissioners said Thursday a 4 percent tax isn’t the answer to education’s problems and unanimously decided to oppose the proposal, which the Nevada State Education Association is promoting as a way to raise more money for schools.

The group, which claims about 500 members in Douglas County, is circulating petitions throughout the state and plans to submit them to the 2001 state Legislature for action. If the Legislature rejects the proposal or changes it, Nevada’s voters could decide.

Virginia Duran, vice president of the Washoe County Teachers Association, asked the commissioners not to oppose the plan, but the board agreed with the business groups that urged opposition.

“Throwing money at the problem isn’t the answer,” said Commissioner Steve Weissinger, whose two daughters attend Douglas High School. “I don’t see how creating a mini-IRS can be the right course for our state.”

“The question I would ask is, does this get us to the goal of better education?” said Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen, whose wife works for the Douglas County school district. “I don’t believe it does.”

The teachers group is calling the proposal the “Nevada Tax Fairness and Quality School Funding Accountability Act.” The group says a 4 percent business income tax could generate $250 million for schools statewide.

Opponents have assailed the petition as a union ploy for more money that won’t necessarily help Nevada’s students.

To send the proposal to the 2001 state Legislature, which could approve it, the teachers group has to get signatures from at least 10 percent of voters in the last election in 13 of Nevada’s 17 counties.

The proposal could go to voters if the Legislature rejects it. If the Legislature changes the petition, both versions could go to voters.