Guinn’s tax plan could mean more money for schools | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Guinn’s tax plan could mean more money for schools

by Jeff Munson, Tribune city editor

Douglas County school officials say they are pleased with Gov. Kenny Guinn’s budget proposal, given the state of Nevada’s lackluster economy.

Gov. Guinn’s overall tax increase proposal of $994 million comes after more than $211 million in cuts and an infusion of $100 million from the Rainy Day Fund to balance the current biennium budget.

Additional funding for textbooks, about $50 on top of the $60 to $70 spent per pupil for books, a 2 percent teacher pay raise for next year, and about a 10 percent increase in health benefit adjustments are on tap in Guinn’s budget.

Under the budget plan, the annual business activity tax will be increased to $300 per full time employee, while liquor taxes will be increased by 89 percent or about 4 cents per six pack of beer, 10 cents per bottle of wine, and the cigarette tax will be raised by 70 cents a pack.

“We are strong in support of the governor’s budget,” said Rick Kester, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services. “We are very appreciative given the state of the state’s economy. We know we need more, but we are very cognizant of how difficult it is given the circumstances of the state’s economy.”

A plan to increase funding for textbooks would give the district about $350,000 more for textbook spending. The money is sorely needed as the district has committed to raising its standards, and will have to meet the standards of the No Child Left Behind law, which requires school districts to meet a stringent set of testing standards for students or risk losing federal funding.

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“We have a lot of good material that is going to become obsolete because the curriculum is changing to meet state and district standards,” Kester said. “We do have a large need for textbooks because the content of a lot of our texts we use right now won’t meet the standards.”

Also scheduled in the budget, is a 2 percent pay raise for teachers for at least a year. School official say the raise is needed, since over the past four years, teachers’ salaries have risen less than one percent annually.

“It is a competitive atmosphere for teachers right now. It has been very difficult to keep teachers because of our salary,” Kester said. “This, and on the health insurance side, will be helpful in our competitive edge.” Since the last time legislators met, teachers have been faced with increased costs of 15 to 20 percent in insurance benefits. Under Guinn’s budget proposal, teachers would get a 10 percent increase to cover health care costs.

Guinn said Thursday that his overall budget is meant to “do what’s right for Nevada’s children and our state’s future,” and a tax base must be broadened to “create a better educated workforce that will attract new industry to Nevada.”

Jeff Munson can be reached jmunson@tahoedailytribune.com

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