Backers of the Tax and Spending Control initiative say the differences between the petition filed with the secretary of state and the version circulated to voters are insignificant, unproved and should not disqualify the measure from November's ballot.
Las Vegas lawyer Joel Hanson wrote that the challenge by the AFL-CIO on behalf of public employee unions opposing the tax limit should be rejected.
"Minor inadvertent discrepancies between the filed version and the street version of a petition cannot serve as a reason to disqualify a petition from going onto the ballot," he argued.
The difference, according to AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Danny Thompson, is far from insignificant. He said the two versions contain a different base year to calculate the tax and spending caps. He said budget experts calculated the effect of that difference at more than $1.3 billion in allowed spending.
Hanson first charged there was no identification of the "so called budget experts" or their qualifications. Later in his letter, he acknowledges the expert in question is Guy Hobbs but says he has no evidence of Hobbs' expertise or how he arrived at his projections.
Hobbs, former Clark County finance director and currently a partner in Hobbs and Ong consulting, is recognized as one of Nevada's leading experts on governmental finance.
Hanson argued the difference in base year was a simple typographical error between two versions of the initiative petition. The problem occurred after Carson District Judge Bill Maddox authorized a revised 200-word description of the amendment's impact and ruled organizers could begin collecting signatures. They presented a new petition to the secretary of state bearing that description but containing 2007 as the base year. That version was filed as the official version.
But the version circulated on the streets lists 2005 as the base year.
Hanson charged the difference is insignificant and that "these hypocritical carpetbaggers" are using it to try to defeat the will of 150,000 Nevadans who signed the petition.
He urged Secretary of State Dean Heller to certify the petition for the November ballot.
Heller said earlier this week county clerks are verifying the validity of the signatures. After that is completed, he said he, his elections deputy and legal counsel will have to decide what to do about the difference.
In either event, the matter is expected to end up back before Judge Maddox within the month.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.