The teachers union is at it again. They’re finalizing a plan to create a Nevada business tax that, if passed, would cripple our ability to attract new companies and create severe hardships for a number of existing businesses. The statutory initiative for a 5 percent business tax is being undertaken for the sake of “education” although the union’s primary motive is to garner salary increases for teachers. Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with salary increases and no one is more deserving than our teachers. But what the union is proposing is not the solution. The union has already making big waves even though the initiative language will not be released until January or February of next year. If the powerful teachers union, which is the second largest in the nation, thinks that Nevada businesses won’t fight back, they’d better think again. Several years ago, the teachers union came up with ·a similar plan, the Corporate Tax Initiative. With phenomenal amounts of money spent by both the union and business, it went all the way to the ballot and was fortunately defeated by the people. Unlike its predecessor, this new tax initiative will likely encompasses all businesses, not just corporations. Currently, more than 60 groups have already joined “The Alliance” in opposition to this new Nevada business tax. Already stated, it’s not that businesses doesn’t recognize the value of our teachers; in many cases, it’s simply a matter of survival. A good example is Nevada’s mining industry, the lifeblood of many of our rural communities. Mines that are already operating on a small profit margin would be forced to close if an additional 5 percent tax increase were implemented. And, while Nevada’s teachers would get guaranteed salary increases, what about the guy that loses his job because his company was forced to close? Those companies that will be least affected are those that are in a position to pass the costs on to their consumers. Unmasked, this tax in the end will not be paid by business, only; it will be paid by the consumer, the individual taxpayer. Nevada’s teachers are not overpaid by any means; in fact we could never overpay them for the contributions they make to the education of our children.
However, their salary is healthy compared to teachers wages and benefits throughout the nation. Depending on whose numbers you use; either the American Federation of Teachers or the National Education Association, Nevada’s teachers rank between the 14th and the 23rd best paid in the nation. But the teachers union would have you believe that our teachers are severely underpaid and the quality of our children’s education will be greatly reduced unless the initiative is passed. In order to qualify the initiative, the union must collect signatures of at least 10 percent of all the voters that cast a ballot in the last general election and qualify in at least 13 counties. If union representatives are successful in collecting the more than 44,000 required signatures, the initiative will be delivered to the Legislature for a vote. The Legislature can either approve the initiative, or it will go on the 2002 ballot for voters to decide. In the latter case, again, a tremendous amount of money will have to be spent on both sides of the issue. With more than 13,000 members, the union has a tremendous capacity for fund-raising. On the other hand, all indications are that businesses are prepared to take the challenge and protect themselves from the tax increase. By doing so, they are not only protecting their own interests, they are also protecting the state’s ability to develop and diversify its economy. Economic development organizations throughout the state use Nevada’s favorable tax structure, with no corporate, franchise, or personal income tax, as a primary selling tool. If the tax advantages are taken away, companies will be less inclined to gamble on the Silver State and will take their businesses elsewhere. The loss of those businesses, combined with the companies that will be forced to close because of the new tax, will have a devastating effect on our economy. Nevada business and citizenry simply cannot afford the teacher’s unions’ so-called new business tax.