Next to nothing from Gov. Dudley Do-Right and his limo-dudes

From Las Vegas CityLife 1-30-2003

Growing up in Fresno, I used to go drinking with a couple of post-Dust Bowl generation country boys. Jake and Joe-Tom talked like John Steinbeck could only attempt in "The Grapes of Wrath."

One of their favorite terms was "next to nothing," as in "Let's go to the jalopy races tonight. That's about the most next to nothin' thing happening."

I've always wondered just what the hell that meant. Joe-Tom and Jake could never quite explain it to an Italian furriner.

The answer finally came to me last week as I listened to another scion of the fields of central California deliver his state of the state address.

Gov. Dudley Do-Right spent the better part of an hour talking at us over the teevee, flinging hope and promise across the land like seeds in a sweaty cotton patch. Research Exclusive
State of Nevada study blames chronic fiscal problems on wholesale creation of low-wage casino jobs.

More corporate welfare horror stories: White Paper on Nevada's unfair and regressive tax structure. 1-20-2003 Web Extra

The Silence of the Sacred Cows
Sparks Tribune 1-19-2003

Gambling industry offers only token taxes and cosmetic participation
1-20-2003 Web Extra

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

His goody bag had something for everybody. But one select group got next to nothing. Which is just what the gambling industry wanted from the guy for whom they purchased the governor's office.


Sure, Gov. Kenny Guinn said he favored a hike in the gross gaming tax but didn't say how much — or how little. Nevada's levy has long been the lowest in the world and hasn't been raised in 16 years.

The gambling industry's tax plan was rubber-stamped after two years of cosmetic hearings by a commission Guinn handpicked for lack of creativity. Several of its members arrived in Carson City for Guinn's speech in a fancy stretch limo.

Among the limodudes' recommendations, the largest is a new quarter of one percent sales tax. The casinos have declared they will pay it on their non-gambling operations and generously double down with another quarter-percent on their gambling gross.

Casino mouthpiece Mike Sloan recently said that means an extra $39.5 million annually for the state. Which may sound like a lot until you remember that the guv says Nevada needs more than $700 million in new money just to stay even over the next two years.

The Do-Right commission also recommended that the state business license fee be credited against the new sales tax, which would almost wipe out the gambling industry's increase. Whatever remains payable to the state becomes a fully deductible expense on a casino's federal income tax return, so the gambling industry's actual cash out-of-pocket quickly approaches zero. (See The Silence of the Sacred Cows, above right.)

Worse, Nevada's generous casino corporate welfare programs have not been on the table. They certainly should be — everything from the Steve Wynn-imposed fine art subsidy to the rape and pillage of room taxes. In fiscal 2002 alone, Clark (downtown Las Vegas, the Strip and environs) and Washoe (Sparks-Reno) county room taxes generated over $263 million for their convention and visitors authorities, most of which was spent on promotion the gambling industry should do for itself and can well afford.

While the casinos continue to skate, their governor wants to hike property taxes by five percent, 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.

Joe-Tom and Jake would recognize that shuck as the most next to nothin' thing the governor could do.

Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano moved to Las Vegas in 1969 to work through the summer. Thirty-four endless summers later, he is a columnist for the Daily Sparks Tribune and editor of and | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


Copyright © 2003 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and 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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