Two mining measures are making their way through the Senate Revenue Committee. SJR 15 would delete the constitutional protections for the mining industry, thus allowing the Legislature, if the constitutional amendment passes, to tax mining by statute as other states do. SB 493 would establish an oversight commission to monitor how mining issues of all kinds are handled (including taxation).
In an April 5 hearing, two Nevada Faculty Alliance representatives – Glenn Miller, UNR NFA chapter president and an environmental expert, and Jim Richardson, NFA lobbyist – testified on these measures, with Glenn offering substantive reasons for the need for oversight on mining in Nevada, and Jim lending NFA support to both measures.
The NFA supports SJR 15 and SB 493 because of environmental concerns, but also particularly because of problems revealed recently concerning taxation of the mining industry, such as the number of deductions mining companies claim and the fact that they have not been audited in two years.
Our support of the two bills also is based on desperation. We in the Nevada System of Higher Education are handing out hundreds of pink slips to faculty and staff who will be terminated if the governor’s proposed budget is approved. We will see many more degree programs terminated, campuses closed, and thousands more students hindered in their efforts to get a degree.
And all this is on top of the hundreds of terminations forced during the current biennium by the 20-percent budget cuts already absorbed. This should not be occurring at all, particularly while the extremely lucrative mining industry is reaping record profits and taking most of those profits out of state.
Sadly, neither of these bills will deal with the short-term problems we face; however, if passed, they may prevent future legislatures from being so stymied in their efforts to deal with fiscal problems Nevada faces.