STEVE SEBELIUS: The questions about school taxes – Las Vegas Review-Journal

When it comes to raising money for education in Nevada, it’s a mixed bag.

In 1994, voters split their vote on a school construction bond, passing one part easily but narrowly defeating a second part.

In 2008, an advisory question called for raising hotel room taxes by up to 3 percent to pay for teacher salaries and student achievement. It passed easily, 66 percent to 34 percent. (The idea was approved by the Legislature, but the money was redirected during the recession.)

In 2012, a school construction bond failed in Clark County, 66 percent to 34 percent.

And of course, in 2014, a 2 percent margin tax on businesses proposed by the state teachers union went down to defeat, 79 percent to 21 percent after a well-funded campaign against it.

It’s against that backdrop that the Clark County Education Association — which represents local teachers — has announced its intent to circulate a pair of initiatives that will together raise $1 billion in new taxes to fund education. (Exactly which taxes will be raised and by how much is still under discussion.)

The union voted overwhelmingly recently to raise its dues by $9 each pay period to cover the costs of the $2.2 million effort to get the questions written, defend them in court and gather signatures.

If the initiatives survive the inevitable legal challenges and gather the required 97,598 valid signatures, they’ll go to the Legislature in 2021. Lawmakers will have a chance to pass them immediately or allow them to go to the ballot in 2022.

Regardless of the electoral history, it would be wise not to count the Clark County Education Association out. The union, led by the unconventional John Vellardita, recently won a standoff with the Clark County School District in which teachers threatened to strike

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