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Chamber Takes Role In Moving Governor's Budget Forward

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Brian Sandoval

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is helping Gov. Brian Sandoval get his historic budget across the finish line

The 2015 session of the Nevada Legislature ends Monday night.

But much of what is to come has already been decided.

One thing no one expected is that Governor Brian Sandoval’s budget, which called for business tax increases, would be approved.

Little more than a week ago, Assembly Republicans were saying: no way, no how.

Then late last week, they voted and the governor’s bill, which includes a huge increase in funding for education, passed the Assembly with a 30-10 vote. 

Something happened behind the scenes. And the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce had something to do with it.

The chairman of Government Affairs at the chamber, Hugh Anderson, told KNPR's State of Nevada that during its fight to defeat the margins tax ballot measure in the November election, many members had agreed with the chamber's efforts to stop the tax, which would have funded education, but expressed support for underlying idea of improving schools in the state. 

When the governor announced his plan to increase taxes and fees to help pay for education in his State of the State address, the chamber felt it was an effort to get behind.

Despite agreeing with the governor that something needed to be done about education funding, how to get that money was still up for debate.

Support comes from

The governor blasted a report commissioned by the chamber calling it "utterly irresponsible, intellectually dishonest and built upon erroneous assumptions." 

Anderson said the governor was in agreement with the chamber's original report on changing the tax structure in the state, but the chamber did not get editorial oversight of the second report, which Sandoval was unhappy about.

As the tax and revenue package made its way through the Legislature, the governor compromised on several aspects. Anderson said the chamber felt it had to be part of a compromise solution.

"Anything that was going to be helpful in getting the ball across the line we wanted to be apart of," Anderson said. 

The lobbyists for the chamber were instrumental in getting some Republican lawmakers who had be against the plan to vote yes. 

Anderson said the state is not preparing students for the future. He said the chamber supported the plan because of the accountability built into programs.

"Many of these programs that we're supporting of course have accountability measures," Anderson said, "We're not just throwing money at a problem. We want accountability."

He agrees with Gov. Sandoval that the state's education system is hurting efforts to bring businesses and top employees to the state. 

"The reality is we need to improve outcome of our schools north and south," Anderson said.

The Senate approved the $1.1 billion tax plan Monday. 

 

 

Guests

Hugh Anderson, chairman of Government Affairs, Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce

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