Special to the Las Vegas Tribune
opportunity to impact the funding of our Kindergarten through 12th
grade education through the Education Initiative, which asks Nevada’s
biggest businesses to contribute their fair share to improve Nevada’s
failing schools and help improve our under-educated workforce.
As any parent in Clark County already knows, Nevada consistently ranks
near the bottom of practically every educational ranking that counts.
Our student to teacher ratio for middle schools and high schools in
Clark County is an average of 34 students per teacher; and according
to the National Journal, we rank 49th in per pupil spending in the
Although strategies drastically differ, attempts are made on both
sides of the aisle in every Legislative Session to change the way we
prioritize education here in Nevada.
Unfortunately, with partisanship arguably as high as it’s ever been,
meaningful legislation is hard to come by in Carson City. In 2012,
that led to an effort to get the Education Initiative on the ballot.
Over 150,000 Nevadans, spanning each county in the state, added their
name to the Education Initiative Petition in less than three months.
The Initiative itself proposed a simple 2 percent margin tax,
impacting only businesses making over one million dollars per year.
Once the signatures (and initiative language through a Nevada Supreme
Court decision) were verified, Nevada legislators had the opportunity
in March of this year to support or oppose the Initiative. The
Legislature ultimately chose not to take a formal position on the
initiative and now it goes directly to the voters in 2014.
Opponents of the initiative (mainly representatives from Nevada’s
mining and realtors associations) will likely use the next fourteen
months to convince voters that ANY tax will hurt small businesses or
opportunity for growth, a claim that is disproven by the facts.
According to the Taxpayers Foundation, Nevada has the lowest corporate
taxes in the United States and is 49th in “revenue collected by state
government.” And yet, Nevada still has one of the highest unemployment
rates in the nation, and the state still struggles to attract new
industries and business. 47 other states have business taxes of some
kind, and none has as high an unemployment rate as Nevada.
Additionally, one of the top priorities of companies when determining
where to set up shop is whether or not there is a school system that
functions well enough to provide a good education for their employee’s
By continuing to under-fund our schools and not making education a
priority, Nevada is unable to guarantee a competitive educational
system to not only the employees of these companies, but the company’s
customers as well.
On the other hand, supporters of the Education Initiative contend it
will add about $800 million into the state’s Distributive Schools
Account, with the money guaranteed to go to education.
The margins tax would only impact businesses that made more than one
million dollars per year. Each business would have the choice of one
deduction of the three choices: 30 percent off the top of their
profits, OR all of their employee salaries (up to $300,000 per
person), OR the cost of all goods.
For example: If a business made one million dollars, but deducted
$700,000 in employee salaries, they would only be taxed 2 percent on
the remaining $300,000, which would end up being $6,000 per year (or
60 cents per $100).
To proponents of the initiative, this does not seem to be an unfair
amount to ask businesses to contribute to the community they benefit
from, especially since it is much less than what businesses must
contribute in other states.
If Nevada is serious about economic development in Nevada and bringing
in new businesses, we must improve our education system. Over the next
fourteen months, Nevadans will have to decide where they will stand on
the Education Initiative and should expect to see the debate continue
to heat up as Election Day rolls closer.