CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A conservative Nevada think tank filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the governor's economic development office, claiming subsidies funneled to private businesses are unconstitutional.
Nevada Policy Research Institute argues that a Catalyst Fund created by the 2011 Legislature to entice businesses to come to Nevada amounts to an illegal use of taxpayer dollars.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Michael Little, who says $1.2 million in subsidies committed to SolarCity puts development of his own alternative-energy business at a disadvantage. Little is the son of Patricia Little a former Democratic assemblywoman from Clark County who served in the mid-1980s.
Little acknowledged he has not applied for Catalyst funding for his own business, Landfill Alternatives, a company he is developing to turn household waste into alternative energy.
"Nevada's Constitution clearly states that state government has no business picking winners and losers in the economy by subsidizing the favored," said Joseph Becker, lead attorney and director of NPRI's Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation.
Becker said subsidies from state government "directly harm both taxpayers and competing businesses."