CARSON CITY – A Carson City District Judge today heard the latest challenge to a teacher-backed initiative petition that seeks to levy a 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year to raise money to support public education.
But Judge James Wilson did not immediately rule on challenges to the “Education Initiative” filed by the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs.
Josh Hicks, an attorney representing the committee, said regardless of how Wilson rules, the legal issues raised in the court hearing will likely be taken to the Nevada Supreme Court for a final ruling.
In the meantime, the Nevada State Education Association is continuing to gather signatures to qualify the measure for submission to the Legislature in 2013.
Gary Peck, executive director of the association, said between 55,000 and 60,000 signatures have been collected so far from registered voters to qualify the petition. The group has until Nov. 13 to collect a minimum of 72,352 signatures to take the measure to lawmakers. The Legislature would then have 40 days to approve the proposal or it would go to the voters in 2014.
The proposed Texas-style margins tax would raise an estimated $800 million a year for public education.
“We remain confident that at the end of the day, the initiative is going to withstand this legal challenge,” Peck said. “We are certainly going to continue to gather signatures. We have received enthusiastic widespread support from the public.
“We have a study, conducted by Applied Analysis, that shows the costs that would be associated with failing to properly invest in K-12 education here in Nevada,” he said. “And I think the general public understands that if we want to have a thriving diverse economy where we have the kind of high-skilled workforce that we need to attract businesses, we need to be investing in our public schools. And we don’t do that.”
Hicks raised several legal issues during the brief court hearing, challenging whether the petition conforms to requirements that it deal with a single subject and if it offers a clear explanation about what it does. He questioned whether the 200-word description of effect adequately explains to those signing the petition what it would do.
Wilson said he too has concerns about the description of effect.
Francis Flaherty, attorney for the teachers, rejected Hick’s concerns.
“There is nothing hidden in this initiative, your honor,” he said.
Teachers Association Executive Director Gary Peck says he is confident the initiative petition will be upheld:
Peck says the association has a study showing the consequences of not properly investing in public education: