busting and taxy dancing with Gov. Dudley Do-Right
Expanded from the 1-26-2003 Daily Sparks
State of Nevada study blames chronic fiscal problems on wholesale creation of low-wage casino jobs.
Gambling industry offers only token taxes and cosmetic participation
1-20-2003 Web Extra
State of the State: Next to Nothing
Las Vegas CityLife 1-30-2003
Humongous property tax hike glossed over by Gov. Dudley Do-Right
Sparks Tribune 1-26-2003
The need for zero-based taxing
Sparks Tribune 12-13-98
Logrolling, air raids and dirty deeds done dirt cheap
Sparks Tribune 2-2-2003
Legislative Opening Day Web Special: Dudley Do-Right, Joe Neal, living room elephants & chopped liver
2-3-2003 Web Extra
This column is all about the one thing near and dear to your heart your wallet. Last week's column checking off some, but by no means all, of Nevada's corporate welfare programs brought a lot of reader response.
I noted that all sources of government revenue should be on the table. For years, I have advocated the folding of earmarked empires, quasi-governmental entities operating with designated funds such as room tax* funded downtown redevelopment agencies. The Airport Authority of Washoe County is an earmarked empire, as is the Regional Transportation Commission, them wonderful folks who contract out the management of the Citifare and CitiLift transit systems to a foreign company.
As I've documented here and on the web for years, RTC employs the foreign managers in order to starve the workers who operate our tax subsidized transportation system. I've worked side-by-side with the Teamsters Union and their members fighting the injustices foisted upon the very necessary system.
Citifare/CitiLift is very necessary because many of the jobs here on the high desert plantation are of the low-wage casino variety. A State of Nevada study (link at right) pointed the finger at our wholesale creation of poorly paid gambling industry jobs as the reason for the current state and local fiscal meltdown.
Last year, four of the five elected members of the Regional Transportation Commission allowed the furriners, Transit Managment of Washoe County, to precipitate the first bus strike and lockout these parts have ever seen. They squeezed every last penny out of the labor negotiations and announced service cuts and fare increases at the same time. The system is now set to implode.
The increases are supposed to go into effect Feb. 1.
A regular rider, employed by a hotel-casino, bought a new seven-day pass last Friday. It was supposed to cost $12.50, but Citifare insisted on the $18 price not slated to go into effect until this Saturday. A 31-day pass is supposed to jump from $40 to $60. Anyone who got goosed early, please let me know.
The guy who got stuck last Friday brought up a good point: the increases bring the price of Citifare close to the cost of a monthly payment and basic insurance for an older car, which will push the system even closer to collapse. Stay tuned.
TAXING PROPOSITIONS. Last week, I asserted that the gambling industry is not pushing for an increase in the gross gaming tax. Several readers questioned that.
"Andy, the media down here in Las Vegas keep reporting that the gamers have agreed to raise the gaming tax rate from 6.25 to 6.50," wrote one."
The industry's support of an increase is cosmetic, a shell game indeed, the equivalent of George Bush and his compassionate but conservative statements. As Doonesbury so aptly put it, compassionate means "I care" and conservative means "you're own your own."
The gambling industry grosses about $9 billion in casino revenue and another $9 billion in non-gambling income. The gambling-industrial complex tax plan calls for a quarter of one percent tax on each. Depending on business, it will yield between $40 and $45 million million a year, a drop in the bucket if Gov. Dudley Do-Right needs over $700 million just to break even in the next two years.
However, the guv's tax review commission, stacked with gambling industry shills, recommended that the state business license tax be credited against the new levies. Any remaining tax owed to the state is a fully deductible expense on a federal income tax return, so the net new tax on the gambling industry will approach zero.
The state study proves that casinos are the source of the problem and must be the major part of the solution. They don't merit a comp on this one.
NO TIME FOR TAXIS. Several members of the Dudley Do-Right Commission arrived in Carson City for the state of the state address in a stretch limo. They are obviously far too important to mix with the peons whose pockets they are picking.
TAXY DANCING. In his rape of the state address last Monday, Gov. Guinn called for a gaming tax increase without disclosing how little it would generate. He also called for a seemingly innocuous "15-cent property tax increase."
Beware. That 15 cents translates into a five percent tax hike which will bring the state about $100 million a year. While your rent or mortgage will quickly go up, the guv wants to give casinos until 2005 to start kicking in whatever's left if anything of their puny quarter-percentage points. Worse, casinos can get their property taxes reduced anytime business slacks off. Tell that to your landlord.
Under Gov. Do-Right's plan, the casinos continue to skate on all counts, which is only fair. After all, they bought the governor's office for him. Twice.
DOWNTOWN DOWN IN YOUR POCKET. Last week, I also noted that the Sparks and Reno downtown redevelopment districts have blown about $200 million since inception in 1977 and 1983, respectively. Here are the latest numbers. Through June of last year, Reno blew $91,148,865 with another $6,757,661 projected for this fiscal year. Sparks' records proved not easily retrievable, but city officials pegged the Rail City's spending at $119,794,049 through June 20, 2002. To its credit, Sparks seems to have spent more on beneficial local projects than debt-ridden Reno. Either way, almost a quarter-billion has gone into projects largely designed to benefit the casino industry to the detriment of roads, parks and schools.
Be well. Raise hell.
* Property taxes remain the principal source of funding for redevelopment agencies statewide. However, in recent years, the state's two largest counties (Clark, which includes Las Vegas and the Strip, and Washoe, which includes Reno and Sparks), have increasingly shunted room taxes downtown.
Copyright © 2003 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.
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