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Senator Heller says passing margins tax could jeopardize Tesla efforts

Senator Dean Heller says Nevada's goal of enticing Tesla Motors to build a $5 billion battery plant near Sparks could be thwarted if voters approve the ballot initiative for a 2 percent margins tax this November.

The Republican lawmaker says he'll voice his opposition to the margins tax strongly because of how it would raise the corporate income tax. He says the initiative would hinder one of Nevada's major advantages in the race among multiple states to reel in Tesla.

"It's a 15 percent corporate income tax," Heller explains. "We'll have a higher corporate income tax than the state of California. That wouldn't be good for Nevada."

That's according to a study done by opponents of the initiative.

Advocates for the margins tax say it would only affect about 15% of businesses, the ones that make more than $1 million in gross annual revenue.

Ruben Murillo, with the Nevada State Education Alliance, says the initiative would raise hundreds of millions of dollars to fill gaping holes in the state's funding for education.

"At what point is there going to be a serious discussion about investment in public education? The legislature has had their opportunities over the past several years," Murillo says, "[and] numerous studies have been conducted, so what's their plan?"

Senator Heller made his remarks Monday in Sparks after meeting with representatives from Granite Construction Supply, a company that helped prepare a massive dirt pad at the site Tesla is considering within the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.