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Nevada Expects Extra $140 Million Heading Into Budget Talks

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada’s top economic advisers on Monday projected state taxes will bring in $140 million more over the next two years than previously expected.

Most of the extra cash will be political fodder for the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval as they negotiate a two-year spending plan over the next month.

The five private-sector advisers were hand-picked by the governor and legislative leaders to analyze government forecasts and decide which to use as the state’s official revenue projection that is used to determine state spending.

After hearing reports of the state’s job, wage and revenue gains, the Economic Forum agreed Nevada will reap about $8 billion in the next two fiscal years — $96 million more than its December projection. They also agreed the current fiscal year will be $44 million above previous estimates.

Nevada leads the Western U.S. and ranks fourth nationally in economic growth.

After experiencing double the job-loss rate as the national average during the Great Recession, Nevada is now a national leader with 19 percent job growth, Chief Economist Bill Anderson said.

“We got hit harder, but we’re performing a lot stronger as we continue to come out of the recession,” Anderson said.

He and Daniel White of Moody’s Analytics said wages are increasing across the board for the first time since the 2008 economic downturn — and bringing commodity prices and tax revenue with them.

That translates to more money in the state coffers.

Sandoval was quick to suggest the money be used, through a system he established in 2015, to boost schools that teach English learners, special-needs students and those from low-income families.

“I would like to see a majority of this new revenue go directly to education, specifically to students in K-12,” Sandoval said in an emailed statement.

Under the governor’s proposed budget and the revised revenue projections, Nevada would tuck away $80 million in the state’s rainy day fund over the next two years.

Surprisingly, businesses have been paying more tax than necessary this year, according to Russell Guindon, deputy fiscal analyst at the Legislature.

Companies that pay state business taxes as well as commerce taxes, which Sandoval championed to benefit the 2015 education reforms, are eligible to get half-off of the commerce tax. But many have not been taking advantage of that rebate, Guindon said.

The economic panel projected the state’s $203 million in commerce taxes this year will drop to $186 million in 2018 after the state clarifies the process.

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