By SANDRA CHEREB
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) â¿¿ The Nevada Supreme Court thrust the discussion about taxes onto state lawmakers Thursday, upholding a business tax proposal backed by the state teachers union and other labor groups and sending it to the 2013 Legislature.
In a unanimous ruling, justices overturned a lower court judge and rejected arguments by Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, a pro-business organization, that the initiative to impose a business margin tax was flawed.
"We are thrilled that the court saw fit not to thwart the clear will of the people and did so in a unanimous decision," said Gary Peck, executive director of the Nevada State Education Association.
John LaGatta, chairman of Committee to Protection Nevada Jobs, a pro-business group that opposed the initiative in court, said the group disagrees with the high court's opinion and "will continue to fight this proposed legislation."
Critics argued that a required 200-word description of what the measure would do was misleading because it doesn't explain that the measure itself would not guarantee more money for education.
During oral arguments in December, Josh Hicks, attorney for the committee, argued that even if enacted, state lawmakers could decide to reduce general fund support for the school account and spend that money elsewhere. Voters should be told about the possibility that money for schools might not increase at all, he said.
But Francis Flaherty, representing the NSEA, called that argument "raw speculation," and countered that initiative backers aren't required to disclose every conceivable scenario of what future legislators might do. He added that those types of detailed arguments for and against the measure would be included on the ballot if it gets to voters in November 2014.
Justices agreed, saying the description â¿¿ the explanation voters see when asked to sign the petition â¿¿ is not required to be all inclusive.