Gov. Barbano Vetoes Gov.
Guinn's Tax Watchdog Award
5-5-99 Internet Edition
Updated from the 5-2-99 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
I have it on very good authority that I am now
governor of Nevada.
The ultimate: Ma Bell.
A few days ago, a lady called Nevada information
and asked for the governor's office. Ma Bell gave her my number.
This wife and mother from a southern state was
researching the services available for autistic children should
her family move to these parts. She figured the governor would
have a staff person assigned to this area.
"I did an Internet search to see how Nevada
rates," she said. She became disappointed upon learning
that the Silver State ranks down at the bottom of the barrel
with her current Dixie residence.
"I've had to work so hard here getting programs
established to benefit my child and others like mine. I really
don't want to have to start all over again," she said.
I told her that we just don't put a lot of money
into the less fortunate. I thus always advise people against
moving here unless they have high income and no children.
I also expressed my hope that she will nonetheless
come here because she struck me as someone who will make this
a better place. Her husband has a substantial job offer which
will give the family the connections to make a difference.
I then gave the lady some references to confirm
the awful truth for herself.
"Looks like they didn't give me the wrong
number after all," she said.
Shortly thereafter, new Gov. Barbano e-mailed
her the following Associated Press item: www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/1999/apr/21/508691849.html
"The (Nevada mental hygiene and retardation)
division's waiting list dilemma came to a head when the parents
of an autistic child sued, resulting in a 1998 ruling that required
the state to provide services to a broader range of mentally
retarded people. Even though the division got another $5 million
to meet demands in the current two-year cycle, the funding problem
and long waiting list remain."
In Nevada, you're on your own.
GUINN WATCH. Screwing over the disabled
is something Kenny
Guinn practiced long before becoming governor.
During George Bush's 1991 Gulf War recession,
Democratic Gov. Bob Miller appointed Republican Guinn to slash
the state budget by more than $300 million. Guinn took the easy
route and attacked the weak. He recommended killing many mental
health programs and severely cutting care to injured workers.
Now that he's been made straw boss of the gambling
plantation, Gov. Dudley Do-Right is at it again. In his February
state of the state address, he announced major human services
cuts, including huge reductions in mental health care.
But times are not tough. We're living in fat city.
Why is the the fastest growing state in the union so broke? Why
has our boomtown gone bust at the bank? Who's tapping the till?
The only thing to do was get on my horse and track
the boss mountie down.
I caught him counting the blues to a bunch of
Democrats, of all people. The Washoe County Democratic Central
Committee had invited the GOP governor to address their monthly
meeting. He went into his now-familiar litany of financial hardship.
It was time get some answers. I wanted him to
clarify his pledge of "no new taxes."
He has been praised for vetoing a real estate
transaction fee increase which would have brought about $12,000
per year to the treasury. The Las Vegas Review-Journal lauded
him and last week the guv earned a "Friend of the Taxpayer"
citation from Americans for Tax Reform.
This ignores his signing of Senate
Bill 255 just in time to impose a sales tax increase on Washoe
County to pay for depressing the downtown Union Pacific Railroad
I asked him to reconcile his no-tax stance given
these seemingly contradictory actions, especially with the current
legislative steamrolling of SB 477, a room tax hike for corporate
welfare projects like a new downtown Reno convention center.
Some of our room taxes are paid by low-wage Nevada
workers who live in weekly motels because they cannot qualify
for apartments. The legislature is also processing Assembly Bill
540 which will give casinos $500,000 in tax breaks to build low-cost
housing for such workers, throwing tax money at a problem by
handing cash to those who cause it.
Gov. Guinn said that he will only veto "anything
affecting the general operating budget which I control."
He added that he will continue to sign into law taxes and fees
which voters enact, such as Douglas County's sales tax increase;
or those which local officials impose, such as Washoe County's
sales tax boost railroaded last year by lame duck county commissioners.
He will thus be signing the room tax increase,
Several weeks ago, I made the above facts known
to Americans for Tax Reform which nevertheless gave him their
award for his $12,000 underachievement. You may post a protest
You might also inquire if they're taking nominations
in the category of gross moral obtuseness.
TRENCH WARFARE. Reno citizen Sam
Dehne has posted to his website
the recent report which severely criticizes the Reno City Council,
downtown redevelopment and the railroad track fiasco.
Horton's document offers plenty of food for thought along
with several mindbenders. For example, Mr. Horton asserts that
Reno practices "benign neglect towards the needs of the
I guess he considers as chopped liver all the
millions poured into downtown redevelopment, movie theaters,
the Harrah auto collection and that cash vampire of a bowling
stadium. Read it and let me know your opinion.
CINCO DE TAXO. This column's Daily
Sparks Tribune readers were informed that Assembly
Joint Resolution 17 was scheduled for a full hearing in Carson
City this Wednesday, May 5.
I was just notified by Ted
Harris of Nevadans for Fair Taxation that the session has
been moved back one week, time and meeting room to be announced.
(Watch the Sunday Tribune or the Barbwire website, below.)
The bill's proponents say they need more time
to research the measure's impacts on local governments.
AJR 17 is modeled after California's 1976 Jarvis-Gann
Initiative which passed as Proposition 13. Assemblyman Don
Gustavson R-North Valleys, proposes to slash property taxes
and control future increases.
At the same time, Senate Bills 383 and 411 are
quietly moving toward passage despite representing a humongous
property tax cut for public utilities. They will substantially
increase pressure to raise residential property taxes.
DOTSHOTS...Las Vegas lobbyist Richard Bunker
showed up with a bandaged ear at last week's hearing on the multimillion-dollar
tax subsidy for Steve Wynn's casino art collection, which includes
a VanGogh. I implored Mr. Bunker not to take self-expression
to extremes. With the Wynn tax break and so many other big business
loopholes, Nevadans have sacrificed more than enough to the art
of politics... Sen.
Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, has the power to free Washoe
County court personnel from second-class citizenhood. Las Vegas
family, youth and juvenile services workers have the right of
collective bargaining. Fully 77 of 109 Sparks-Reno employees
want the same. AB
670 sailed through the lower house 40-0. Unless Washington
moves, local workers' rights will remain wishful thinking. Call
him at 775-687-3652 or 775-331-3826 and ask him to rescue the
Be well. Raise hell.
Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a 30-year Nevadan,
editor of U-News
and head of Casinos
Out of Politics (COP). In 1998 he served as gubernatorial
campaign manager for State
Senator Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas.
Since 1988 Barbwire by Barbano has originated
in the Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune, where an earlier version
of this column appeared on 5/2/99.
Read more about it: Why the most prosperous state can't
pay its bills:
Corporate Welfare in Nevada
Guinn waffles while Wynn wins
The history of the
Steve Wynn art tax loophole
Guinn Watch '99: All
Guinn, All the Time
season for breaks & loopholes by Dennis Myers, Las Vegas
Business Press, April 5, 1999