Teachers union unveils proposal to raise sales tax

kids getting on school bus
There is also a bus driver shortage. (Photo: CCSD)
kids getting on school bus
(Photo: CCSD)

The Clark County Education Association on Wednesday unveiled plans to pursue a ballot initiative to raise the sales tax to fund education statewide.

The initiative petition targets the Local School Support Tax — a sales tax — and proposes raising it by 1.5 percent — from 2.6 percent to 4.1 percent. The local school support tax is one of the primary sources of funding for education and goes directly to the school.

The increase would bring the overall sales tax rate in Clark County to 9.875 percent, which according to the Tax Foundation would be among the highest in the country.

But the union says the proposal would bring in more than $1 billion dollars annually.

The local school support tax petition is the second of two ballot initiatives announced this week by the teachers union, which represents the approximately 19,000 licensed teachers within Clark County School District. The first is a proposal to raise the gaming tax rate 3 points — from 6.75 percent to 9.75 percent. That proposal is expected to raise new revenue by $340 million annually.

The initiatives together would bring in more than $1.4 billion more annually for education.

If the union receives enough signatures, the questions would appear on the 2022 ballot.

In an announcement on its website, the union states: “We take these steps after much deliberation. If we found others who would lead on raising revenue, we would support and follow. But we do not see that, hence why we are taking these historic steps to finally fix the funding problems our students face every day.”

The statement also takes a jab at Gov. Steve Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature: “If the 2021 Nevada Legislative Session does not adequately fund our schools, then these initiative petitions will allow the voters to decide whether they want to fund education adequately. In the alternative, the Governor and the Legislators can find other sources of revenue to fund our schools to the levels needed. We would welcome that leadership.”

Before the 2019 Legislative Session, the governor and legislators signaled that there would be no new taxes — much to the dismay of advocates within the education community, who have long argued that per-pupil spending in Nevada is abysmal.

Note: Due to an editing error this story initially failed to distinguish between the Nevada average combined sales tax rate and Clark County’s, which is higher.

April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and three mutts.