Nevadans overwhelmingly approved a $52 million tax on miners who are now unearthing a gold bonanza that rivals production during this state's famed Comstock Lode era.
Voters also approved a plan to double the money Nevada can borrow for new construction.With all votes counted in Tuesday's special election, the two-year mining tax hike won 107,679 to 30,663. The other question won by 74,418 to 63,228.
Voter turnout was 36 percent. Election officials around the state had predicted turnouts ranging from 30 percent to 40 percent of the more than 383,000 people eligible to vote.
Nevada is the nation's leading producer of gold. During the past eight years, mines here have produced more than 12 million troy ounces of gold with a value of about $5 billion.
At today's prices, that's equal to the value of all the gold and silver unearthed in Virginia City during the two-decade Comstock Lode era that began in the late 1850s.
The mining tax plan was submitted to voters after bitter debate in which Democratic Gov. Bob Miller accused mining industry lobbyists of deceit in trying to derail his proposal for $118 million.
The industry accused him of playing "mine games." Miller responded that the industry was trying to give the state "the mine shaft."
Casino owners, often targeted for tax hikes because gaming is Nevada's largest industry, also got into the fray, arguing that it's time to change the tradition of the mining industry not paying its fair share of taxes.