Thursday, April 3, 2008 | 5:16 p.m.
CARSON CITY – A petition by the school teachers union to raise the tax on big casinos by 44 percent is legal and supporters can resume gathering signatures to qualify for the November ballot, a judge has ruled.
Senior Judge Miriam Shearing ruled today that the Nevada State Education Association can resume collecting the 58,628 signatures of registered voters needed by May 20 to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for the ballot.
The Nevada Resort Association and the Las Vegas Sands had filed suit, claiming the "Save Our Schools" petition was defective.
Gaming officials are expected to appeal today's decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.
The proposal calls for an additional 3 percent tax on casinos that take in more than $1 million a month in gross gaming "win," their gambling revenue before taxes and expenses. The casinos now pay a 6.75 percent tax.
In a prior suit, Shearing ruled the petition was defective. So the education association rewrote it and began gathering signatures again until the current suit was filed.
The judge, a former justice of the Nevada Supreme Court, rejected the resort association's argument that the new petition was the same as the previous one and should be ruled invalid again.
The petition states that funds raised through the tax would go to salaries for teachers and for improving education.
Opponents also complained the petition could be confusing to the public.
But Shearing wrote in her 12-page decision: “This initiative is neither confusing nor misleading in that it states in both the title and in the purpose that funds are being raised for both employees' salaries and student achievement.”
Voters would have to approve the petition this year and again in 2010 for it to become part of the state constitution.
Neither Bill Bible of the resort association nor Lynn Warne, president of the education association, could be reached for comment.