Do-Right, Joe Neal, chopped liver
and the elephant in the living room
2-3-2003 BARBWIRE Web Extra Edition
Reno's greatest fame came as a divorce capital. True to its heritage, nothing's changed. Reno media remain divorced from reality.
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
WORLD'S LOWEST GROSS GAMING TAX IGNORED
The silence of the cows continues to deafen. With the exception of an AP story in which MGM-Mirage mogul Terri Lanni screamed like a stuck albeit fatted calf, Reno Gazette-Journal reporters on Sunday and Monday ignored even mentioning an increase in the gross gaming tax.
Worse, a Kazoo-Journal/KRNV TV-4 News poll didn't even ask the question.
Nevada is a company cow town and no one dares udder a word otherwise. Las Vegas Review-Journal and University of Nevada-Reno polls have for years shown about two of every three Nevadans favoring a gaming tax hike.
The same held true for the first edition of Nevada Newsmakers* in its new home at...KRNV TV-4. My colleagues Sam Shad and Andrea Engleman played two segments of an interview with Gov. Dudley Do-Right, then cut to three compliant pundits. Once again, the lambs were silent about the sacred cow.
At least I'll get a chance to stomp the Shad barnyard on Tuesday and I promise to complain about the elephant on the set which everyone has chosen to ignore.
Gov. Kenny Guinn told Shad and Engleman that he got "not one single suggestion from the legislature or any other group besides the (Guinn-Hobbs-Sloan-Greenspun) task force."
That's Guinn's committee handpicked to rubber stamp the gambling industry's tax plan. A couple of weeks ago, I crunched the numbers and found how the gamblers will basically be paying zero under the creative accounting and tax credits called for by the task force. (See the 1-20-2003 Web Extra, above right.)
This at least has not gone unnoticed among the state's more outspoken conservatives. (See the latest edition of Electric Nevada. No less than the right-wing Nevada Policy Research Institute (see the 1-20-2003 Web Extra, above right) has taken notice of the Guinn-Hunt Administration Nevada Commission on Economic Development study which torpedoed the phony gambling industry Arthur Andersen report upon which the Nevada Resort Association bases its claim that diversifying the economy is the reason the state's upside down financially. The NCED study points the finger where it belongs the wholesale creation of low-wage gambling industry jobs which allow casinos to privative profit while socializing risk.
For Gov. Dudley Do-Right to say no one has come forward with an alternative plan divorces the debate from reality faster than a Reno justice of the peace late for golf.
WHAT ARE WE, CHOPPED LIVER?
As I vaguely recall, a coalition of business types including the Gomorrah South Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Manufacturers Association presented an alternative plan. The guv and the gamblers may not like the proposal, but it really, really exists. Even the Gazette-Journal printed a story about it. I read it. Honest.
Senator Joe Neal's freshly updated website is loaded with five years' worth of individuals, media commentators and public officials who have endorsed a gaming tax hike.
Guinn certainly knew about the non-gambling businesses' plan. He told Shad and Engleman that its service tax component would place a levy on a mother getting her child a haircut. No one mentioned that the gambling industry plan for a Regressive Universal Sales Tax (RUST) would tax health care and re-impose a tax on groceries. As businesses raise their prices to compensate for the increased taxation, sales taxes will increase as a tax is imposed upon a tax.
As Yogi might say, if the late Sen. Mary Gojack, D-Reno, were alive, she'd be rolling over in her grave.
No one seems to have yet figured out how to exempt things like food and doctors from the gambler's plan to make Nevada a workers' paradise. Alexander the Great on drugs had a better chance of untying the Gordian Knot than the ledge has of anticipating every contingency and turning it into law in 119 days.
Remember, this damned state still levies sales taxes on hearing aids and other prosthetics.
CLASH OF THE TITANS
Right now, lesser lobbies are being forced to choose sides between the gamblers and non-gamblers. As I reported in last Sunday's Sparks Tribune, gambling reps are reaching out to medium-sized lobbies offering a little old-fashioned legislative logrolling. The gamblers are dangling the carrot of casino support for legislation desired by weaker interests in exchange for endorsement of the Guinn-Gambler RUST plan.
That's really a positive development. It means that while gambling's power ain't broke, it's badly bent. The elephant in the living room needs help cleaning up the mess before somebody is impolite enough to say something.
Let's be rude, dammit!
The missing piece of the tax debate puzzle is a substantial hike in the world's lowest gross gaming tax. Gov. Guinn says no support exists for that or any other plan besides that of the gambling industry. Not so.
He asked for it. Let's accommodate him.
Please send me notice of your support of raising the gross gaming tax for the first time in 16 years. A four percentage point hike, progressively targeted at the state's largest, most profitable casinos, erases the state's deficit. And everything they pay on the state level is a fully deductible expense on a federal income tax return.
If you every wanted to sock it hard to the IRS, here's your chance.
Join Casinos Out of Politics (COP) by sending me your name and city/county of residence. Let me know if I can publish your name at the Statewide COP website. I will appreciate the anonymous support of anyone employed by or doing business with the gambling industry, but I advise that you do not publicize your names.
When Sen. Joe Neal circulated a petition to raise the gross gaming tax a couple of years ago, casino workers were told by their bosses that any employee whose name appeared thereon would be fired. That happens to be as illegal as anything can be, but it worked.
The factory in the company town is good at stomping the worker bees.
Stomp back. Help me build a statewide network of people willing to write, call, fax, lobby and generally raise a ruckus. If you don't, you'll get stuck with the bill.
As I noted in my Jan. 26 column, part of the gambling industry plan is a five percent, $100 million hike in property taxes. Unlike a casino, homeowners and renters can't apply for a property tax cut whenever business slacks off.
You have a choice. You can be a lamb maintaining the silence of the sacred cows.
Or you can...
Be well. Raise hell.
* Monday through Thursday at 12:30 p.m. on KRNV TV-4, repeated the same day at 9:30 p.m. on cable stations throughout the region. (Charter Communications channel 12 in Reno, Sparks and Carson City; channel 19 in Douglas County.) All four half-hour programs will be rebroadcast the following Sunday from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Reno radio station KKKOH-am 780.
Don't Let Casinos Off the Hook
A slightly revised version of the above column as it appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal
vs. the boss of the Nevada Resort Association 2-7-2003
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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