• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Sisolak plans to lift property tax caps, cut sales tax rate and broaden base

ByChad J. Johnson

Oct 31, 2022

Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat seeking re-election, says he won’t raise taxes.

But would deletion the ceilings imposed by the legislator in 2005 on the property tax amount to an increase?

The question elicited a laugh and a long pause from the governor in a phone interview Thursday, a week and a half before voters decide whether he will serve a second term.

“That’s a tough question you ask. Believe me, I’ve thought about it,” he said. “Whether you remove the caps or have a similar proposal in California, I don’t know if we’ll have to.”

In California, property tax is reassessed upon sale, with inherited properties being largely exempt. Seniors are also allowed to transfer their existing lower rates to new properties if they move house.

Do the math

The Nevada Commission on School Finance is about to release its recommendations to increase spending per student by thousands of dollars a year. Sisolak says he doesn’t know the price yet,

A preliminary report of the commission released earlier this year suggests possible funding mechanisms, including removing property tax abatements, changing the way the tax is calculated, and taxing discretionary services such as cosmetic procedures while reducing the rate sales tax.

Sisolak has long blamed property tax caps for draining local government coffers, causing the Clark County Commission in 2015 to turn to a regressive sales tax increase to fund the More Cops initiative at the behest of the Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a Republican who is now challenging Sisolak for the state’s top spot.

“We tax necessities, not luxuries” Sisolak complained at the time, after lawmakers rejected a proposal to tax services.

Right now, the state is flush – and more. The Economic Forum said revenue exceeded forecast by $1 billion.

“I don’t know if we’re going to have to increase our revenue in any other way, but I think there can be creative ways,” Sisolak said. “If you’re talking about putting a sales tax on services and lowering the overall rate, I don’t know if that’s an increase.”

Services make up two-thirds of the economy, experts say. Sisolak says a “frank discussion” is needed to determine whether taxing “a new pair of shoes for your kids” is fair, but not expensive cosmetic procedures and other discretionary services.

Sisolak says the biggest surprise of her first term, the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequently the economic disparity she exposed, changed her view of governance.

In 2019, the new governor said he had no interest in creating minimum wage jobs and was focusing on higher wages.

“Whatever the minimum wage is, it won’t provide enough money – if it’s $10, $12, $15, whatever it is, it won’t provide enough money for individuals to support themselves. their needs and those of their families,” he said. said at the time.

Now, faced with the reality of the economy he governs rather than the one he aspires to oversee, he is recommending increased Medicaid reimbursements for home health aides, who perform back-breaking tasks to help disabled and the elderly.

“They weren’t making enough money to fill their gas tank, so I’m glad we were able to get them up to at least $15 an hour,” he said.

The governor says the minimum wage issue “has sort of solved itself with the shortage of employees right now. But there are plenty of skilled jobs available that pay a lot more money and that we need to attract people.

To that end, he is shaking up the way the Governor’s Office of Economic Development does business. GOED, which offers tax incentives to businesses in exchange for job creation, was born under former Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

“Every governor comes in and says I want to improve the economy and that’s what GOED was,” Sisolak says. “It started off as a good idea, I’ll grant it to you. But there’s still a lot to do and I don’t think you can make a home run with these big companies like Tesla and Panasonic. »

Sisolak clarifies that GOED previously calculated “the annual salary amortized over the entire population of the company. I want to see the average salary, the average and the mode, because if you have one person making $300 an hour and 50 people making $8 an hour, those are not the types of jobs that I want.

The governor says he visited a pretzel factory in northern Nevada that created several hundred jobs paying $20 to $25 an hour. “At least at $25 an hour, you’re making $50,000 a year. Those are great jobs. That’s what I’m looking for.

Last week, state agencies made their budget requests for the next biennium. The Department of Health and Social Services alone is asking for 500 positions.

Sisolak says the state needs to focus on getting “more students in the pipeline for all of these mental health jobs.” He opposes a salary cap that fasteners compensation of certain employees at the Governor’s salary.

Failures and shortcomings

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice determined Nevada unnecessarily institutionalizes children with behavioral health needs.

“It’s one of those things that, frankly, people don’t like to talk about – our biggest failures and our biggest shortcomings. I think those are the things we need to talk about the most. And he there’s clearly been a breakdown, not just in my administration. It goes way back,” he says of the state’s inability to fund mental health services. The state is cooperating with the DOJ by allocating million dollars of pandemic relief money from the U.S. bailout to community organizations, many of which are nonprofits.

The one-time cash injection is not a long-term solution.

“We’re going to have to be very diligent in analyzing them individually, and which ones we can keep and move forward,” he said of the recipients. “The Legislature is going to have to make tough calls prioritizing services, and there’s an awful lot of need there.”

An unexpected event

The last thing Sisolak expected when he took office was to shut down the Las Vegas Strip, the engine of the state’s economy.

The governor says he first heard about COVID while attending the National Governors Conference in Washington, DC in January 2020.

“I remember President Trump said, ‘We’re going to have a presentation,’ and he brought in Dr. (Robert) Redfield and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, and I had never heard of one. either of those men at the time,” recalls Sisolak. “And they said, ‘Look, we have this virus in the East. This is COVID-19[FEMALEWedon’tthinkthisisaproblemIthasn’tbeendiscoveredhereintheUSWejustwantyoutobeawareWethinkit’sundercontrolbutit’snotamajorconcernatthemomentJustkeepyoureyespeeledAndthentwomonthslateryouknowwhathappenednext[FEMININENousnepensonspasquecesoitunproblèmeIln’apasétédécouverticiauxÉtats-UnisNousvoulonsjustequevousensoyezconscientNouspensonsquec’estsouscontrôlemaiscen’estpasunepréoccupationmajeurepourlemomentGardezsimplementlesyeuxouvertsEtpuisdeuxmoisplustardvoussavezcequis’estpasséensuite

What happened next was an unprecedented shutdown that turned the entertainment capital of the world into a ghost town.

“People at the resort were pushing me to shut it down,” Sisolak says. “They survived the recession. They survived October 1. They knew that if it got as bad as people were saying and dozens of people died in properties, they didn’t think they would ever come back from that, in terms of being a tourist capital. ”

The decision to essentially close schools and much of the economy for what amounted to an extended period, remains one of the most frequent criticisms Sisolak’s critics cite today.

“At the time, honestly, we were looking at, you know, 30 to 60 days, something like that,” he says. “I never thought it could last like this. Never in my wildest imagination.