Posts Tagged ‘sales tax’

Nevada Ranks 3rd Among States For Best Tax Climate For Business

By Sean Whaley | 9:39 am October 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada is one of the 10 best states for its business tax climate, while companies in states like New York, New Jersey, and California have a far less pleasant environment to deal with, according to a new report by the Tax Foundation.

“Even in our global economy, a state’s strongest and most immediate competition often comes from other states,” said Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard. “State lawmakers need to be aware of how their states’ business climates match up to their immediate neighbors and to other states in their region.”

Nevada ranked 3rd in the Tax Foundation report released today, unchanged from last year. Nevada scored less well in two of the five categories that make up the ranking, coming in 42nd for its sales tax index rate, which is considered high at a statewide 6.85 percent rate; and 41st for its unemployment insurance tax, which does not provide for many benefit exclusions like many states do.

Courtesy of the Tax Foundation.

The survey is a snapshot in time as of July 1, 2012, and so does not include any evaluation of a Texas-style margins tax being proposed by Nevada by the Nevada State Education Association. The association is now collecting signatures to take the measure to the Legislature in 2013, but it still faces a court challenge.

In a press briefing today to announce the results of the new edition, speakers make it clear that Nevada’s high score would be substantially worse with a margins, or gross receipts, tax.

Texas scored in the top 10 in the survey in spite of the margins tax, not because of it, Drenkard said.

“We penalize states heavily for having gross receipts taxes because they are very distortionary,” he said. “It’s similar to having a very poorly structured sales tax.”

The top ten states in the 2013 Index are Wyoming (#1), South Dakota (#2), Nevada (#3), Alaska (#4), Florida (#5), Washington (#6), New Hampshire (#7), Montana (#8), Texas (#9), and Utah (#10).

Many of the top ranking states do not have one or more of the major statewide taxes, such as a personal or corporate income tax or a sales tax. Wyoming, South Dakota and Nevada, for example, have no corporate or individual income tax; Alaska has no individual income or state-level sales tax; Florida has no individual income tax; and New Hampshire and Montana have no sales tax.

The 10 lowest ranked states in the 2013 Index are Maryland (#41), Iowa (#42), Wisconsin (#43), North Carolina (#44), Minnesota (#45), Rhode Island (#46), Vermont (#47), California (#48), New Jersey (#49), and New York (#50).

The State Business Tax Climate Index, now in its 9th edition, collects data on over a hundred tax provisions for each state and synthesizes them into a single score. The states are then compared against each other, so that each state’s ranking is relative to actual policies in place in other states around the country. A state’s ranking can rise or fall significantly based not just on its own actions, but on the changes or reforms made by other states.

The index enables business leaders, government policymakers, and taxpayers to make an apples-to-apples comparison of their state’s tax system. While some similar studies focus on the total amount residents pay in taxes each year, the index focuses on whether the state’s tax code itself enhances or harms the competitiveness of its business environment.

Despite moderate corporate taxes, New York scores at the bottom this year by having the worst individual income tax, the sixth-worst unemployment insurance taxes, and the sixth-worst property taxes. The states in the bottom 10 suffer from the same afflictions: complex, non-neutral taxes with comparatively high rates.

Maine saw the greatest improvement this year, vaulting them from 37th to 30th best overall, in part due to a repeal of their alternative minimum tax. Michigan also made a sizable leap of six places by replacing their cumbersome and distortionary gross receipts tax (the Michigan Business Tax) with a flat 6 percent corporate income tax. This improved their overall rank from 18th to 12th best, and their corporate sub-rank from 49th to 7th best.

The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan research organization that has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937.


Audio clip:

Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard says a margins tax in Nevada would worsen the state’s Top 10 ranking:

100912Drenkard :26 of Nevada substantially.”:



Gov. Sandoval Defends Conservative Credentials, Says Online Sales Tax Revenue Is Matter of Fairness

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 8:31 pm April 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today that a recent deal announced with to collect sales taxes from on-line purchases in Nevada beginning in January 2014 is only the tip of the iceberg.

Tax revenues to Nevada could total $200 million a year if all on-line purchases were assessed the state sales tax, he said. Nevada’s sales tax rate varies by county but is between 6.85 and 8.1 percent.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program, Sandoval said the voluntary agreement reached with Amazon could be the first step in an effort to collect the state sales tax from all on-line purchases. He also defended the move as not being a new tax for Nevada residents, but one they are supposed to pay anyway.

Sandoval said the agreement with Amazon, which could begin sooner if Congress acts to allow states to collect the tax from on-line retailers, is worth an estimated $16 million to $20 million a year.

“The universe could be up to $200 million in uncollected sales tax,” he said.

Sandoval said he pursued the agreement to help small businesses in Nevada, many of which are at a competitive disadvantage to on-line retailers. Sandoval said he has visited more than 150 businesses in Nevada and the advantage held by internet retailers is an issue that comes up frequently.

“You can drive down almost any street in the state of Nevada and see businesses that have closed,” he said.

Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12 percent as of March.

The issue was brought to Sandoval by the Retail Association of Nevada, which praised the deal announced earlier this week. The same deal has been established by governors in other states, including Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina.

In the wide-ranging interview, Sandoval also defended his conservative fiscal credentials after announcing the extension of a set of taxes set to sunset on June 30, 2013, the Amazon deal that will increase costs to Nevada consumers and an economic plan that will dole out state funds for business expansion.

Sandoval said he decided to continue the sunsetting taxes to deal with an expanding Medicaid population and to avoid further cuts to education.

“I think it is important that we don’t start pitting senior citizens against kindergarteners,” he said. “I’m still a fiscal conservative and Nevadans are not going to be paying one cent more in taxes than the day I took office.”

As to his economic plan and the use of a $10 million catalyst fund to encourage business relocation and expansion, he said: “What we are doing is no different than the most conservative governors in the United States of America.”

Sandoval also  said he has received many phone calls from conservatives who are supportive of his decisions, but that not everyone will support all of his decisions as governor.

“If I am pleasing everybody, I am lying to somebody,” he said.

Sandoval also said he would “respectfully” decline any invitation from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to be his running mate. Sandoval said he intends to finish his term and run again for governor in 2014.


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he reached a deal with Amazon to help Nevada small business:

042612Sandoval1 :22 a competitive disadvantage.”

Sandoval says he started with Amazon but the state can now move on to other on-line retailers:

042612Sandoval2 :15 uncollected sales tax.”



Assembly Republican Suggests Tax Reform Debate

By Andrew Doughman | 10:46 am March 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, says he is interested in changing the state’s tax structure.

He wrote in a weekly newsletter he might consider broadening the state’s tax base, an idea that he has talked about with UNR economics professor Elliott Parker.

“The good professor understands scientifically what we all know intuitively – that the golden goose of gaming in Nevada will never again lay the same revenue egg that the Silver State has enjoyed for so long,” Hickey wrote. “Parker’s proposal for a small tax on the state’s new service economy – is worthy of serious consideration.”

Parker has suggested that the new tax could be coupled with a corresponding decrease in the sales tax. This would prevent the government from collecting more revenue. In theory, it would spread the tax burden around to a greater number of sectors.

“These kinds of revenue-neutral but long-term sensible approaches might attract members of the GOP to the table,” Hickey wrote.

Parker has written several editorials during the past months. He has advocated for more government spending rather than cuts, and has equated budget cuts to the Donner Party cannibalizing itself.

“If the Legislature passes a tax on services, but delays it for a couple of years, this would give us time to figure out how to best collect it, and we would avoid raising taxes during the depths of Nevada’s depression,” Parker wrote. “If we borrow against this future revenue to fill the current gap, we are just smoothing out when we spend it. We would not have to repay from moneys we won’t have, and not risk our credit rating.”

Hickey said the professor’s specific, revenue-neutral approach would fit into the Assembly Republican’s list of goals for the session.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute, a free-market think tank, has also advocated for a similar change in the state’s tax structure. They claim it would spread the tax burden around, although some disagree that it would be revenue neutral.

Hickey said he will not be introducing a bill for a tax on services with a provision for a reduction in the sales tax.

He said the proposal is worth “considering” and “discussing” during this legislative session.

The Legislature is 30 days into its 120-day session, and deadlines are fast approaching for lawmakers to submit bills.

The Case For Cuts: After Criticism, Many Defend Governor’s Budget

By Andrew Doughman | 4:00 am February 7th, 2011

CARSON CITY – They speak of limbs hacked off, death and guts.

In a war of words, critics of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $5.8 billion budget have lambasted his proposed cuts to K-12, higher education and health and human services.

Conservatives have largely stayed silent while the critics lashed out. Now, two weeks after the governor released his budget and on the first day of the 120-day legislative session, they’re ready to defend it.

The “live within our means” crowd has said the governor’s budget, along with any legislative tinkering to iron out compromises, puts Nevada where it needs to be. Advocates for health and education have equated it to a starvation diet. The governor and others say each state dollar can do more.

When you’re at home, and you know you can’t afford something, you just don’t get it,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, one of the few Republican lawmakers to raise her voice during the past two weeks of legislative budget-overview hearings.

The governor has proposed 9 percent and 18 percent budget cuts to K-12 and higher education. But even those who have bemoaned the cost of the governor’s cuts have some concessions to make.

I think we have been guilty of hyperbole in the past where, you know, we get the first dollar of a cut and we would like you to believe that the sky is falling,” said Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, which comprises Nevada’s universities and community college. “Here we are a few years later and lo and behold the sky is right where it started out. It has not fallen in.”

Klaich made his comments at a meeting this past week between presidents of universities and community colleges and the Board of Regents, which govern the state’s higher education system. He warned the presidents not to overstate the cost of the cuts.

Later in the session, the extent to which advocates for school, university and human services programs justify their worth could influence how legislators choose what to cut and what to save.

Presenting worst case scenarios doesn’t do any good,” said Dale Erquiaga, the governor’s senior adviser. “Everyone knows they’re not going to try to fill that [budget] gap entirely with tuition [increases], including them. And so to say that they would is disingenuous.”

No new taxes

The governor has repeatedly said he will veto any bill with a tax increase. Democrats would have to rally their legislators as well as persuade some Republican lawmakers to cross party lines in order to have the two-thirds majority required to override Sandoval’s veto.

The governor’s staff remain confident that this is impossible.

They do not have two-thirds to raise a tax,” Erquiaga said.

Not all Democrats have pledged their support for tax increases either. Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, stressed the harmful effects of the cuts during legislative budget overviews during the past two weeks.

His counterpart in the Assembly, Speaker-elect John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, offered more compromising rhetoric.

As the Las Vegas Sun reported this past weekend, the two Democrats are approaching the session with different leadership styles, which could be a contributing factor to how the 120-day session is likely to play out.


The admonishments from Horsford and others have not persuaded some legislators. Rather than watch agencies and programs starve, this is the camp that says that the state can get leaner, more efficient and do more with less at the level of spending the governor has proposed.

Freshman Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, said this weekend that people don’t mind some taxes.

They just want to know how is it being spent, are we spending correctly,” he said. “That’s the systemic problem we’re having, the transparency of each of these agencies that we have.”

Although not the single agenda of any one legislator, the no-new-taxes scenario could look like this: Legislators vote to consolidate state agencies, reduce salaries of state employees and revise the state’s pension and benefits plans. They also make it easier to fire bad teachers and reward good ones. That same accountability system and culture, somehow, migrates to state agencies so the state can better track the effectiveness of its spending. Finally, the Legislature decides to shift services downward to county governments, a move that isn’t a burden because the Legislature concurrently gives counties more leeway in how they pay their employees. Counties also add accountability measures at the local level.

If you’ve been watching the firefighters down in Clark County, yeah, somebody should be watching something,” Cegavske said.

County leaders have criticized Clark County firefighters for making liberal use of their sick days, oftentimes when they’re not sick.

Republican leaders Sen. Mike McGinness and Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea have also written a letter in support of the governor’s budget. They argue that taxes are unnecessary because the state can reform “how government should operate.”

Jobs and Business

That philosophy of government harkens back to the Reagan years, when the governor and his senior advisers first entered politics.

Sandoval said that keeping people employed is his “most important” priority in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. In the same interview, he said a business-friendly, low-tax environment will be the key to economic growth.

It’s a message echoed by conservatives statewide.

The best way to get out of it for those people and everyone is allow people to work,” said Victor Joecks at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank.

The governor has, however, used about $1 billion worth of one-time budget shifts to balance his budget. He hasn’t completely relied on cuts. Instead he has proposed to move around local funds and open up accounts that are now locked-in for bond repayment.

But critics have called the governor out more for his cuts than his accounting. Some have suggested a sales tax on services or a business franchise tax as ways to avoid eviscerating the state’s social safety-net and broaden the state’s tax base.

The governor still has strong support going into the session. But, as the Las Vegas Review Journal reports, the record number of freshman legislators and the presence of some key players don’t entirely rule out a tax increase if Horsford and other can advocates are especially persuasive.

The games begin today as the Legislature convenes later this morning.

Support, Questions, Rejections Follow Call To Broaden Nevada Tax Base Using Expanded Sales Levy

By Sean Whaley | 1:15 pm June 3rd, 2010

CARSON CITY – A proposal to simplify, broaden and stabilize Nevada’s tax base by expanding and reducing the sales tax to include services from haircuts to legal advice is generating some support and plenty of questions from lawmakers and interest groups.

The proposal, presented Tuesday by Geoffrey Lawrence of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, would be revenue neutral and would lower the 6.85 percent state sales tax rate to 3.5 percent. As part of the proposal, the insurance premium tax and the payroll tax paid by businesses would be eliminated as well.

The NPRI proposal would even include food purchases as taxable items, but would also provide tax relief to residents up to the federal poverty line.

One potential challenge to the proposal is that voter approval might be required depending on how such a plan was drafted.

Lawrence, a fiscal policy analyst for NPRI, said his plan is intended to counter what is expected to be a call for a broad-based business tax by at least some members of the Legislature in 2011.

Lawmakers are facing a $3 billion shortfall and are awaiting a study of their own on how to respond to the anticipated revenue shortfall. The study by Moody’s Analytics funded by the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee is due to lawmakers later this year.

Lawrence said his plan would stabilize and broaden Nevada’s tax base without further burdening Nevada’s taxpayers, and would also “strengthen our economy by eliminating the job-killing modified business tax.”

The NPRI study found that a corporate income tax is actually one of the least stable tax instruments available to state governments, and is significantly less stable than any tax instrument currently employed in Nevada. Adding a corporate income tax would therefore make the state’s tax structure more, not less, volatile, Lawrence says in his  report titled, “One Sound State, Once Again: Comprehensive fiscal reforms to again make Nevada strong, prosperous and free.”

The study also calls for spending reforms, including a priority-based approach to budgeting and limits on spending increases tied to inflation and population growth.

Several lawmakers commenting on the report have questioned its usefulness given that it is revenue neutral at a time when the Legislature is anticipating a $3 billion hole in the next budget.

But the proposal is a long-term approach to resolving the state’s revenue and spending issues and is not meant to be a quick fix, said Lawrence. A broader sales tax would bring in increasing revenues at the 3.5 percent rate as the Nevada economy recovers.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said he likes the approach, which follows a flat tax model that he and many voters would support.

“I think most Americans are tired of all these loopholes and exceptions,” he said. “The twisting of tax regulations to benefit a powerful constituency or lobby.”

A straight 3.5 percent tax on consumption would be a stable form of revenue, Goedhart said. There should be no exceptions, he said.

His one objection to the proposal is the provision to provide tax relief to low income residents.

“The cost of government applies to everyone,” said Goedhart, a member of the Assembly Taxation Committee.

Goedhart said such a plan in Nevada could serve as a role model nationally and help generate support for a similar change to the federal income tax.

The Legislature also needs to impose spending controls and look at other reforms, from prevailing wage laws to meaningful changes to the state health insurance and public employee retirement plans, he said.

Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, said the study contains valuable information the Legislature can use as it tries to resolve its budget problems next session. But details would have to be spelled out in legislation before any such proposal could win his support, he said.

There are a number of sales tax exemptions currently, such as the one for farm equipment purchases, said Grady, a member of the Assembly Taxation Committee. Surrounding states have exemptions for farm equipment and not offering the same here would put Nevada companies at a disadvantage, he said.

The NPRI research is solid and gives lawmakers a starting point for a tax discussion next session, Grady said.

Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, said the proposal as presented wouldn’t bring in more money even though the state is facing a major revenue shortfall. He also questioned whether such a major change to Nevada’s tax structure could be accomplished in the 120-day session when so many other pressing issues are also on the table.

Add in redistricting and all the new lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly and the task would be challenging, he said.

“It would be a major undertaking,” said Schneider, a member of the Senate Taxation Committee. “I just don’t think, with the way our session is designed, that we can get that work done.”

A special session would probably be the best way to tackle such an issue, but whoever is governor in 2011 probably won’t want to call lawmakers back in for such a task, Schneider said.

Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, questioned how a revenue neutral tax proposal would help solve the state’s budget problems. The budget for the next two years would typically be in the $6.5 billion range, but is expected to be about $3 billion short, he said.

In talking to voters, Aizley said he is asking what services they want protected and what cuts they are willing to accept. Most people wanted education protected, he said.

Aizley, a member of the Assembly Taxation Committee, said he would also need details of what services would be included in an expansion of the sales tax.

“People don’t know the implications,” he said. “I would not say yes to a services tax until it was spelled out what those services would include.”

Aizley also rejected the NPRI call for what he described as a “zero based” budgeting process for state agencies to use. It is time consuming and labor intensive to review every single program every two years when it is clear many programs will have to be continued, he said.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said it is encouraging that even a fiscally conservative group like NPRI is in agreement that the state needs to consider revising its tax structure. But any tax plan that is revenue neutral is not realistic given the $3 billion budget hole facing lawmakers next year, she said.

Leslie also suggested the proposal is not really broadening the tax base, since it is just expanding an existing levy to services such as haircuts or tax preparation.

“I don’t think it is broadening the tax base so much as it is taking out the volatility by taxing more things,” said Leslie, a member of the Assembly Taxation Committee.

By eliminating the payroll tax as part of the plan, it could be argued the tax base would actually be narrowed under the NPRI plan, she said.

“It would reduce the burden on business and increase the burden on the rest of us,” Leslie said. “I think the middle class already pays its fair share.”

The idea of taxing services has been discussed before, both in 2003 and 2009, she said. Such proposals always run into roadblocks when the groups to be included in the tax object, Leslie said.

Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, said she welcomes NPRI to the tax discussion, noting that for a long time the conservative voices in Nevada have suggested that no changes are needed.

But Pierce, who also serves on the Taxation Committee, said sales taxes are regressive and the state already has one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation.

“Making our tax system more regressive is not an improvement,” she said. “I’m not entirely opposed to looking at a sales tax on some services, but not as a substitute for a broad-based business tax.”

Nevada needs to look at how other states that adequately fund their programs and services raise tax revenue and then model itself after those states, Pierce said.

Carole Vilardo, president of the Nevada Taxpayer’s Association, said the proposal needs a great deal of fleshing out so that policymakers can know the implications of what such a change would mean to the state’s tax structure.

Any change to one portion of the sales tax rate, the 2 percent that goes to the state general fund, would need voter approval, she said. Vilardo also questioned whether such a proposal could have an effect on those portions of sales taxes pledged to pay off bonds.

“When you talk taxes, the devil is in the details,” she said.

Nevada Think Tank NPRI Gets Extra Thinky on Tax Reform

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:04 pm June 2nd, 2010

The fact that I didn’t blog about this new tax proposal from NPRI yesterday, Dear Readers, should not be interpreted as an indication that I think it’s unimportant.  The delay was a factor of time because it was a very busy day and the report is 32 pages long (to be fair to its author, that includes a blank page and six very pretty charts and graphs).

The report may be the most notable thing to come out of the Nevada Policy Research Institute in some time.  And oddly enough, it’s about levying taxes.  Or rather, adjusting them around a bit.

Here are the key elements from the suggested (revenue-neutral) reforms:

• Eliminating the modified business tax;

• Eliminating the insurance premium tax;

• Broadening the sales tax base and reducing the statewide sales tax to 3.5 percent;

• Implementing priority-based budgeting; and

• Implementing spending controls that limit state spending growth to the rate of inflation plus population increase.

There are things here to either love or hate, depending on your perspective.  Which is an indicator that as a whole it could qualify as a pretty good piece of policy.  If every legislator has to give in some areas in order gain in others, no one feels like he “lost” — and no one can boast that he “won.”  (Well, ok, he can.  And probably will, especially when up for reelection.  But in any good legislative compromise, the players tolerate the trumped up public rhetoric of their good friends across the political aisle while remaining privately content with reality.)

I’ll let you read the report for yourself, but here are some early thoughts after my first read:

It may or may not be the best solution for stabilizing Nevada’s tax base, but is a solution, and one that is viable enough to kick off a statewide dialogue.

Whatever one’s political leanings, it cannot be denied that the general volatility of tax revenue is a problem for Nevada and many other states.  Fluctuations in revenue cause all kinds of hardships which are then blamed on all kinds of random things as public officials, most of whom are also politicians, scramble to make adjustments and cover their anterior regions.

Erratic revenue streams also tend to impede planned, steady growth of worthy infrastructure(s) that is/are the foundation of civil society.

Compounding the instability problem is government’s tendency to spend every dime it takes in, and then some, when revenues are flowing freely.  History shows us that state legislators of both parties are incurable amnesiacs who can nearly always be relied upon to forget about past budget crunches while assuming present-day cash will keep coming ad infinitum.

The quick, common cure for this ailment of fiscal forgetfulness?  A good dose of tax hikes, either via rate increases of existing taxes or brand new taxes and fees.

Just like those that came out of Nevada’s 2003 legislative session, including a modified business tax, real property transfer tax and bank branch excise tax.  And hikes to the cigarette, liquor and gaming tax.  (Ever notice that most legislators are happy to tax you long-time if you smoke, drink or gamble?  Good thing no one in Nevada likes to do any of those things.)

And then came 2004-2005, and lo-and-behold, in a never-before-seen phenomenon caused by the collision of tax hikes and economic boom times (insert dripping sarcasm here), the state’s General Fund grew bigger and bigger and economic projections became rosier than the lenses in Janis Joplin’s favorite sunglasses.


Except that the oh-so-predictable response of our esteemed elected was to (drum roll) spend every stinking dime of the surplus.  Which then caused a bit of a budget problem when revenues dropped off in recent years.  And so on, and so on.  After all, the boom and bust must go on or it just wouldn’t be Nevada (or America), right?

Maybe.  But fiscal analyst and author of the NPRI report, Geoff Lawrence, at least, dares to dream otherwise, for which I think he deserves credit.

And so, apparently, does Ralston, who last night had Lawrence on Face to Face and then today penned a very read-worthy column on the proposal.

Make of that what you will, Dear Readers, and please drop a Comment below after you’ve read the report.

Assembly GOP Leader Says Bank Fee in Budget a Tradeoff, Concerned About Last Minute Jobs Bill

By Sean Whaley | 5:44 pm March 1st, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert said in an interview today that GOP agreement to include a new fee on banks in the final budget deal approved by the Legislature early today was in exchange for support for keeping Nevada State Prison open.

Gov. Jim Gibbons had proposed to close the aging facility as part of his budget cuts, but the move was opposed by many lawmakers because it would mean the layoff of 136 state employees and cause further economic problems for the capital city. Public safety was also cited as a concern.

“In the end it was somewhat of a trade for Nevada State Prison to tell you the truth,” Gansert said on the television program Nevada NewsMakers. “Nevada State Prison has been in limbo for quite some time. We can’t seem to figure out whether to close it or not.”

Closing the prison would also have resulted in maximum capacities at other Nevada correctional facilities as inmates were relocated, potentially creating the need to build a new expensive prison to handle inmate population growth, she said.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, proposed the new banking fee that ultimately was part of the budget agreement. The new fee will create a foreclosure mediation program for small businesses. The fee was originally proposed at $500 per notice of default, but ended up at $200. It will raise about $13.8 million.

The savings from closing the prison was about the same amount of money: $13 million, so the bank fee was included as an offset, Gansert said.

“It’s a tough choice; it’s not something that any of us supported,” she said of the bank fee. “But in the end we felt that we needed to relive some of the uncertainty and give us some more time on the state prison.”

Ultimately six of the 14 GOP Assembly members, including Gansert, voted for the bill to balance the state budget, including the new bank fee. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature and is expected to be signed by Gibbons, who helped craft the budget agreement.

Gansert called the new fees in the bill “a pittance” compared to the budget cuts and other maneuvers, such as sweeping various agency bank accounts, used to balance the budget and erase an $800 million-plus shortfall.

In the interview, Gansert also expressed concerns about a last-minute measure approved by the Legislature to create road construction jobs. Senate Bill 6 passed both houses of the Legislature in the final hours of the six-day session. It will use existing taxes, including a one-eighth of a cent sales tax in Clark County, to finance a bonding program for road construction.

“That bill was a very last-minute bill,” she said. “I know we had a mixed vote out of the Assembly. My concern was there was no check on it. It became an evergreen for a sales tax and an evergreen for some other taxes.”

Gibbons amended the special session proclamation to allow for consideration of the proposal, which was crafted by Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas.

Gansert and four other Assembly Republicans opposed the measure. It received unanimous support in the Senate.

Gansert called the proposal “very unusual” in that no other approvals were required to go forward with issuing the bonds.

“Typically with anything related to bonding, you either have a time frame or a cap — and both of those were gone,” she said.

Gansert said another objection was to a provision giving the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles the authority to raise its own agency fees. The Legislature has not previously given the agency the ability to change its fees through regulation, she said.

December Tax Collection Stats

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:51 pm February 23rd, 2010

Statewide sales taxes declined 6.6 percent in December compared to last year, but gross revenue collections ($291,942,636) from sales and use taxes showed a slight (0.78%) increase compared to December 2008.

$104,794,843 was collected and deposited into the State general fund for the quarter ending December 2009 for Modified Business Tax from General Businesses and Financial Institutions. This is a 40% increase compared to the same quarter last year.

Total exccise tax collections ($101,007,257) for the month of December 2009 increased 5.25% compared to the same month prior year.

Quoth the Governor:

December tax collections continue to decline; however, after 14 months of double digit percentage declines in sales taxes over the prior year, we have a single digit decline of under 7% for December 2009 taxable sales compared to December 2008. While some indicators are beginning to show signs of a thaw in the state economy, Nevadans continue to experience high unemployment rates and the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. My administration will continue to press for leaner, more efficient and effective government as we face tough budget decisions on the road to economic recovery.