For as long as I can remember, the Clark County Education Association (CCEA) has been working to raise taxes for education. They’ve come to nearly every industry in the state with their hand out for more money. Like most other business owners, I firmly believe in the importance of education and the need to fund education. However, Nevada’s education system, and CCEA in particular, has a long history of misusing the funds they have. Instead of restructuring and working more efficiently for our students, the school districts and CCEA have taken the lazy route and simply asked for additional funds to cover them.
A recent example from CCEA highlights this issue perfectly. THT Health, run by CCEA for teachers, was recently bailed out to the tune of a $15 million cash infusion. Among other issues, the health insurance trust, failed to pay its share of teacher’s medical bills, causing many educators to have to fend off collection agencies. Under a new agreement, THT must now be transparent and frequent in their reporting. So, essentially, we’ve thrown more money at them to fix their mistakes, and THEN asked them to be accountable.
With such a history, you can imagine my surprise when I learned the CCEA had asked that two petitions to raise taxes be removed from the 2022 ballot. One petition would raise the state’s gaming tax rate from 6.75 to 9.75 percent. The other would increase the Local School Support Tax rate from 2.6 to 4.1 percent and raise Nevada’s baseline sales tax. They were backed in the request by liberal Attorney General Aaron Ford who noted the state constitution doesn’t prevent, “the proponents of an initiative petition from withdrawing the petition.” In fact, the 2021 Legislature sought to make the removal of the petitions even easier with the passage of AB 321. Section 84.5 of the bill reads, in part, “A petition for initiative or referendum may be withdrawn if a person authorized pursuant to NRS 295.015 to withdraw the petition submits a notice of withdrawal to the Secretary of State on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State.”
Seems simple enough. However, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, in a written response to AG Ford, disagreed the petitions could be removed because the Nevada Constitution clearly says, “the Secretary of State shall submit the question of approval or disapproval of such a statute or amendment to a statute to a vote of the voters at the next succeeding general election.” Cegavske is saying the usage of the word “shall” in the Constitution means, since the Legislature failed to take action within the required timeline on the petition, it is mandatory she add them to the 2022 ballot. She also indicated passing a bill that “permits” the removal doesn’t remove her obligations from the Nevada Constitution. In her letter she said, “Although the Nevada Legislature can adopt statutes … the affirmative duty imposed by the Nevada Constitution on the Secretary supersedes any statutory enactments by the Nevada Legislature that contradict the affirmative duty.” In response, the CCEA filed a lawsuit against Secretary Cegavske.
Like so many other issues these days, this one comes down to politics. According to Daniel Honchariw, director of legislative affairs with the Nevada Policy Institute, the CCEA made a calculated judgement that is now coming back to haunt them. They worked to get the tax initiatives as a “just in case” measure. When the Legislature passed the additional taxes on the mining industry last session, part of the deal was the CCEA would agree to withdraw these petitions. Now, with Secretary of State Cegavske refusing to play ball with the union, they are in a real pickle because conservatives will oppose these excessive taxes and come out in droves to vote them down. In addition, a raise to the base sales tax will disproportionally affect lower-income families who, previously, may have voted Democrat, and may now vote against them.
CALL TO ACTION: Honchariw indicated it’s likely the lawsuit against Cegavske will fail in court because constitutional law favors her opinion. And, as the greed of CCEA becomes more apparent to voters, we need to do our part to make sure these additional taxes are voted down in this year’s elections.
By Whose Authority?
For more information on my Commentary and to see some of my backup research, or if you wonder why I take the position I take, go to www.LyleBrennan.com.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”