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High Court to Decide Whether Education Tax Initiative Will Stand

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(photo- AFP/Getty Images)

(photo- AFP/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS CBS KXNT -The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday over whether the teachers union adequately described its business margin tax proposal to voters.  The question before the court — how much did petition signers need to know about the various possible effects of the measure in order to make an informed decision?

The challengers claim that the description of effect for the initiative is misleading because it claims the money from the 2 percent margin tax will support education.  Attorney Josh Hicks told the Court the title of the initiative, which contains the word “education,” leads voters down the wrong path.

He called the initiative description a “half-truth,” because it correctly describes which account the money will go in, but fails to reveal that it doesn’t obligate the state to spend more on education.

The Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, which Hicks represents, has suggested that the additional money from a business margins tax would simply displace money the legislature would normally transfer from the state’s general fund to its Distributive Education Account, thereby providing a pot of new money for lawmakers to spend at will.

Justices probed for a concrete basis in law to support the claim that the legislature would withhold a like amount from the general fund, and spend the money on something else. Some justices called it a hypothetical arguement. Teachers union attorney Frank Flaherty said there is no legal basis for the claim, and called it speculation.

Hicks argued that most voters aren’t familiar enough with Nevada’s school budgeting procedure to understand the flexibility lawmakers would have. The court inquired how many possible scenarios proponents would have to outline for voters in order to have a complete description.

If the court upholds the initiative, it will bind the legislature to consider the margin tax within 40 days after it convenes.

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