Today Senate Joint Resolution 15 was heard before the Senate Revenue Committee. Supporters of the resolution to remove mining’s tax protections from our state’s constitution packed legislative hearing rooms in Carson City and Las Vegas.
No one from Elko testified during today’s hearing, but of course that doesn’t mean no one is for or against the bill.
The following is a message from an Elko resident in favor of SJR15. Many other residents of Elko have contacted their legislators asking them to support SJR15 so the people of Nevada can vote for it in 2014.
Unfortunately, like most full-time parents, I will be unable to attend. However, like most full-time parents living in Elko, we want to see SJR 15 passed so the people of Nevada can vote, not for a new tax on the mining industry (which Sandoval opposes), but to remove the protections that the Mining Industry, primarily the Out-of-State Mining Corporations, have abused for decades.
We have seen the Out-of-State mining corporations hold Elko County, and our elected politicians, hostage (Newmont and Barrick are the largest donors to Pete and John’s campaign); when bad decisions are made in Colorado, or in Canada, people in Elko feel the negative impacts of those decisions, in the form of mass layoffs (such as Jerritt Canyon’s mass layoffs in violation of the WARN Act, and Newmont’s recent wave of layoffs) or through other means, such as hiring freezes.
The Legislature in the last session was informed that the Mining Industry was not being audited, yet, Newmont and Barrick failed to disclose this to investors, in violation of the Federal Securities and Exchange Laws. Later, the Nevada Department of Taxation discovered, following an audit, that 3 mines had taken over $8.7 Million in illegal tax deductions, and that the results of their audit on Newmont was, and currently appears to still is pending. People in Elko want to know the results of this audit. We believe it is crucial that Christopher Nielsen with Nevada’s Department of Tax is involved in this discussion. .
Pete Goicoechea went on record defending his campaign contributors, stating “said the field audits probably won’t find that the mining companies did anything illegal because the companies have “the best audit teams in the world.” However, as we have seen, the audits, which could only go back 3 years, turned up $Millions, and the Nevada Department of Taxation apparently hasn’t finished the audit on Newmont, which has been going on for more than a year!
These Out-of-State Corporations basically control the economic prosperity of other businesses in Elko, due to the lack of economic diversity. They are not helping. Their donations are minuscule compared to the tax revenue that they would have to contribute if taxed as a gross proceeds amount, and they can pick and choose who the donations go to – taking the power of distribution out of the control of our elected officials.
Furthermore, despite the mining industry taking $Billions of Non-renewable resources out of the County, and out of the State, so they can make $Billions in profit, Elko is plagued with increasing crime rates (due in part to lack of funding for law enforcement, and an increasing transient or temporary population), and decreasing public education standings (Nevada ranks in the bottom in terms of Public Education), due to the lack of tax revenue that they contribute under their current protections.
The mining industry pays a measly 1% in taxes. Gaming and Sales Tax revenue make up 54%-57% of Nevada’s Budget,a nd according to the Elko Daily Free Press, Gaming revenues are down 12.5%, and ~20% even in Elko.
Nevada needs to diversify its Revenue portfolio to hedge against times like this (when sales and gaming revenues are down, but gold prices are at historical highs), but without getting these protections out of the Nevada Constitution, Nevada is unable to diversify its revenue streams, and moreover, Nevada has to sit back and watch primarily 2 dominating Out-of-State Corporations send their profits out of Nevada.
Again, we know that Passing SJR 15 does not create a new tax on the mining industry, but it rather allows the people of Nevada to vote if they want these constitutional protections out of the NV Constitution. Our representatives do not seem to understand that, so we are hoping the rest of the State’s officials do understand it, and can help us, and the rest of the State’s citizens have a voice regarding Nevada’s Non-renewable resources.
Our Children’s future, and other people and businesses in Nevada, depend on removing these protections being removed. While Goicoechea, Ellison, and others who received significant campaign contributions from the out-of-state corporate mines, will surely be voting against passing SJR 15, we are hoping you can be the voice of Elko’s voters and encourage other elected officials to Pass SJR 15.
Elko County Citizens for SJR 15.