Doubt surrounds Nevada money

State economic development officials are asking Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto for a legal opinion on whether they can use a new “catalyst” fund to invest in projects that would bring businesses to Nevada.

The state constitution bars the use of public moneys by private businesses, but Assembly Bill 449 this year was enacted with terms like “loan of money” to describe the uses to which the $10 million catalyst fund can be put. And a policy statement under consideration by the Nevada Economic Development Agency on the use of the catalyst fund reads in part, “Projects that are considered for the catalyst fund must demonstrate a significant rate of return on the public dollars being invested in the project.”

At article 8, section 9, the Nevada Constitution reads, “The State shall not donate or loan money, or its credit, subscribe to or be, interested in the Stock of any company, association, or corporation, except corporations formed for educational or charitable purposes.”