By SANDRA CHEREB
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) â¿¿ Nevada Senate Republicans opposing a plan to tax businesses in an effort to raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year for education pitched a new strategy Tuesday, saying that if mining companies paid more it could avert the proposal they consider a job killer.
The surprise announcement came the same day Assembly and Senate taxation committees held a joint hearing on IP1, the initiative backed by the Nevada State Education Association and other labor groups. Supporters say it would raise $800 million a year for K-12 education.
Gary Peck, executive director of the NSEA, told lawmakers the petition was signed by more than 150,000 people and urged lawmakers to support it.
"We hope that there will not be a caucus of no," said Peck, urging legislators not to get mired in the "same old arguments that have led this state into a ditch and our K-12 education system into a ditch."
But Republicans say the plan to impose a 2 percent tax on businesses taking in more than $1 million a year would harm Nevada's economy. The plan will go before voters for approval or rejection next year.
Some Democrats chastised business groups who spoke against the initiative during the joint hearing for seemingly opposing taxes at every turn over the years.
"When you come to the table, don't come with just, 'no, no, no,'" said Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas. "I want to hear some options."
Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, was more direct.
"You guys haven't liked anything in the quarter of a century I've lived in this state," she said, adding that should the margins tax become law in January 2015, "you'll have nobody to blame but yourselves because all you ever say is no."
Mining was not mentioned during the hearing on the teachers' tax initiative.