Tax Amnesty Program
In last summer’s special session, the legislature passed a tax amnesty program aimed at bringing in past due taxes. Ostensibly, the program would help resolve some of the state’s budget problems while providing overdue taxpayers relief regarding penalties and interest. Should taxpayers take advantage they would only owe the overdue taxes supposedly helping both taxpayer and the cash strapped state. The program was part of a $1 billion dollar budget balancing measure.
Details of the program were recently announced and applies to monthly tax returns due on or before June 30, 2020, and to quarterly returns due on or before April 30, 2020. The program runs from February 1st to May 1st. The amnesty program does not include the lodging tax, real property transfer tax and locally assessed property tax. It also does not apply to businesses or individuals who have a compromise or settlement agreement with the Department of Taxation or Nevada Tax Commission regarding unpaid tax.
COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Plan Changes
Governor Steve Sisolak, in response to one of the worst vaccination rates of all fifty states, has changed course in how vaccinations will be distributed. To date, only front-line medical workers and senior citizens living in a group situation. The new approach will include a new “dual lane” strategy which continues to vaccinate essential workers, senior citizens, and people who may have an underlying medical condition.
Sisolak News Conference
Sisolak Extends the “Pause”
On January 11th Governor Sisolak extended the “Pause.” The pause is in reflection to rising COVID-19 infection rates. The pause has been in effect since late November and it was hoped it would slow the rate of infection. However, rates have remained elevated and hospitalizations remain a concern. Under the continued “statewide pause,” businesses including restaurants, bars and gyms are restricted to 25 percent capacity, and retail establishments will remain at 50 percent capacity.
Sisolak News Conference
State Lawmaker Resigns Amid Investigation
State Assemblyman, Alex Assefa, resigned amid controversy. Assefa tendered his resignation to Governor Sisolak last month. Assefa resigned due to an investigation he improperly used campaign finance monies and to questions that he did not actually live in the district he represented. Assefa’s wife’s home and his condominium were raided last May by law enforcement. No charges have been filed.
State Senator Yvonne Cancela Resigns to Serve in Biden Administration
State Senator Yvonne Cancela resigned her position last month in order to join the Biden Administration in Washington DC. The move was anticipated as Cancela served on Biden’s Campaign in Nevada. She has served the 10th district since 2017.
Las Vegas Review Journal
State Budget Shrinks
If Governor Sisolak has his way the state budget will shrink by 2 percent in the next biennium. This is due to COVID-19. The reduction is far less than initially feared when the state shut down. The budget starts in July 2021 and is not expected to include any new taxes. Of note, neither the state senate or assembly have a super majority and so any proposal to raise taxes is a likely non-starter. The proposed general fund budget of nearly $8.7 billion is $187 million less than the current plan, amended in special session last year in response to a $1.2 billion budget impact from the pandemic. The overall state budget, including money received from the federal government and other sources, tops $27 billion, an increase of 5.1 percent.
Following are a few drivers of the state budget:
- $15.2 billion for health and human services, an increase of $2.6 billion over the current biennium. Medicaid costs, which account for two-thirds of that budget, are up nearly $1.6 billion.
- The budget includes $342 million in supplemental appropriations for the current fiscal year, the largest of which is $331 million for K-12 education to offset state and local revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic.
- Education for the 2021-23 biennium for both K-12 and higher education is budgeted at $7 billion, a decrease of $130 million over the current biennium.
- K-12 will see a $30 million reduction and higher ed an $80 million reduction. The total K-12 expense is $6.6 billion, including $4.9 billion in state funds. Higher education funding is projected at $2 billion.
Information drawn from the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Governor Sisolak’s State of State Address
Due to Covid-19, Governor Sisolak released a video of his State of the State address. In the video the governor spoke to the success of the administration to date. These included giving raises to teachers, ending surprise billing wherein people are billed out of system, banned insurance companies from excluding pre-existing conditions and meeting the challenges of the pandemic. Sisolak went on to outline the state’s continuing challenges. These include the pandemic and getting shots into the arms of Nevadans. As well, he outlined new initiatives to improve the lives of all Nevadans. These include the creation of Innovation Zones to promote such things as blockchain technology, a new Energy Economy which would focus on green energy storage, a new NV Economy wherein the state would enlist private companies to help train employees in new areas of work, a Remote Work Resource Center which would help employees engage remotely with companies throughout the world, and Infrastructure Fast Track which would work to forward stalled infrastructure.
Information drawn from Las Vegas Review Journal and the speech text released by governor’s office.