By SANDRA CHEREB
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) â¿¿ Six Republican senators announced a plan Wednesday to tax Nevada's gold and silver mine operators to raise money for education.
The group led by Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said they will push a 10 percent tax on gold and silver mining revenue as an alternative to a 2 percent business tax that will be on the 2014 ballot.
Senate Republicans said the plan would raise $600 million during the two-year budget cycle to be used for reducing class sizes by hiring more teachers, developing more English language learner programs and for establishing an "education stabilization fund."
"We embrace this plan and more fundamentally, we will fund the plan with the passage of the Education Priority Initiative," Roberson said in a statement.
The name shouldn't â¿¿ but likely will â¿¿ be confused with the Education Initiative, a measure that was spurred by the state teachers' union and other labor groups who collected more than 150,000 signatures last year to send the 2 percent margins tax plan to this year's Legislature.
That proposal is already headed to the 2014 ballot after lawmakers failed to act on it within the first 40 days of the session, as required under state law.
Republicans are against the teachers' tax plan, calling it a "job killing" tax. Other GOP senators behind the mining tax push are Ben Kieckhefer and Greg Brower of Reno; Joe Hardy, Boulder City; and Scott Hammond and Mark Hutchison of Las Vegas.
Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said he didn't yet know details of the Republican package.
"I continue to say that we have to look at everything if we're going to come up with a solution that works for Nevada," he said Wednesday, adding that he's willing to look at the Republican proposal.