Nevada Legislature special session to discuss tourism set for Monday (updated) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Nevada Legislature special session to discuss tourism set for Monday (updated)

Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com

Update:

Under pressure from lawmakers who don’t want to vote for a tax increase just before the election, Gov. Brian Sandoval on Thursday removed those items from the special legislative session agenda.

His original announcement included not only the Raider stadium project but “adjustments” to the lodging tax and the Governmental Services Tax to make up a funding shortfall in the K-12 education budgets.

“After consulting with legislative leadership, I have decided that any potential budget challenges for the next biennium will be addressed during the next regular session,” Sandoval said. ‘The special session agenda will be focused on the recommendations of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee.”

Sandoval’s original announcement said the special session, “offers an opportunity to come together as leaders and ensure stable funding for public education in the next biennium.”

The purpose of the special session at 8 a.m. Monday will be to approve room tax increases to fund construction of a 65,000 seat domed stadium in Las Vegas as the potential future home of the Oakland Raiders football team.

Sandoval said full details of the agenda he’s proposing for the special session will be in the official proclamation he plans to issue on Sunday.

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee recommended raising the Clark County room tax to provide $750 million in bonds to build the stadium.

The rest of the funding for the $1.9 billion stadium would come from the Davis family who owns the Raiders ($500 million) and Las Vegas Sands Owner Sheldon Adleson who has pledged $650 million.

Sandoval did not, however, change his decision not to include the school vouchers program in the agenda saying that will require too much time to handle now and should be done during the regular session that begins in February to ensure the “fix” doesn’t run into constitutional challenges as the original version did. The Nevada Supreme Court last week ruled the funding mechanism for that program violated the “Education First” state constitutional amendment because it took money from the K-12 budget.

That program was ruled unconstitutional by the Nevada Supreme Court, which said it violated the Education First constitutional amendment that mandates all money appropriated for public education be used for public education. The so-called Educational Savings Accounts would have allowed parents to take $5,100 per child per year and use it to pay tuition at private and religious schools.

The court ruling sparked immediate pleas to put the issue on the special session agenda, which the governor controls.

“There is simply not enough time to add it to next week’s special session with full confidence that a rushed outcome will pass constitutional muster,” Sandoval said.

He said he’s instead creating a working group headed by the voucher legislation’s author Sen. Scott Hammond to fix the constitutional issues in the program.

There’s also the issue of where the money to pay for the vouchers would come from since, with more than 8,000 applications in, the bill for this year alone would be $41 million.

“Further, I have made the commitment that funding for this project will be included in my final budget recommendations for the upcoming biennium,” he said.

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Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wednesday he will call the Legislature into special session Monday at 8 a.m.

The purpose of the special session is to approve room tax increases to fund construction of a 65,000 seat domed stadium in Las Vegas as the potential future home of the Oakland Raiders football team.

Sandoval said full details of the agenda he’s proposing for the special session will be in the official proclamation he plans to issue on Sunday.

“Now is the time to capitalize on the opportunity before us to invest in Nevada’s most foundational industry, tourism,” Sandoval said in a statement. “We can and must usher in a new era for tourism in the Las Vegas market.”

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee recommended raising the Clark County room tax to provide $750 million in bonds to build the stadium.

But the agenda is also expected to include money to expand the Clark County convention center and, possibly, an eighth-cent increase in the sales tax requested to put more police on the streets in southern Nevada.

The rest of the funding for the $1.9 billion stadium would come from the Davis family who owns the Raiders ($500 million) and Las Vegas Sands Owner Sheldon Adleson who has pledged $650 million.

Sandoval said the special session is also an opportunity to fix a projected shortfall in the existing education budget caused by a larger than expected growth in the student population.

“I will add language to the call of the session to ensure education funding is stable for the upcoming biennium and will recommend a minor adjustment to the lodging tax for a temporary solution supporting education,” he said. He said he would also ask lawmakers to adjust the governmental services tax for that purpose.

But Sandoval said in his announcement the school vouchers fix wouldn’t be on the agenda. That program was ruled unconstitutional by the Nevada Supreme Court, which said it violated the Education First constitutional amendment that mandates all money appropriated for public education be used for public education. The so-called Educational Savings Accounts would have allowed parents to take $5,100 per child per year and use it to pay tuition at private and religious schools.

The court ruling sparked immediate pleas to put the issue on the special session agenda, which the governor controls.

“There is simply not enough time to add it to next week’s special session with full confidence that a rushed outcome will pass constitutional muster,” Sandoval said.

He said he’s instead creating a working group headed by the voucher legislation’s author Sen. Scott Hammond to fix the constitutional issues in the program.

There’s also the issue of where the money to pay for the vouchers would come from since, with more than 8,000 applications in, the bill for this year alone would be $41 million.

“Further, I have made the commitment that funding for this project will be included in my final budget recommendations for the upcoming biennium,” he said.


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