Et tu, Kenny? Gaming's governor stabs at Neal on the Ides of March


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LAS VEGAS (March 15, Y2K) -- On the same day the gambling-industrial complex released a recycled study stating (surprise) that casinos pay their fair share and other businesses should have their taxes raised, Gov. Kenny Guinn called upon Sen. Joe Neal and the teachers union to unilaterally fold their respective tax increase petition campaigns.

Guinn decried an "onslaught of individual efforts that would decide independently what Nevada's priorities should be and how we will pay for them...

"It pits us against each other," the first-term Republican governor said in his speech before the Nevada Taxpayers Association at the Mandalay Bay Resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

"The effects of these efforts pit our major industry against taxpayers and the business community against educators," he said. "It is divisive, it is destructive and it will tear apart our state."

However, the governor made no offer to Neal or the teachers other than sitting down and talking. He railed against government by initiative petition, which he said he would travel the entire state to defeat. (The former educator has apparently lost sight of the fact that the right to petition one's government is embedded in both the Nevada and U.S. Constitutions.)

Sen. Neal, D-North Las Vegas, upped the ante with a sensational counter-proposal.

"I will consider reducing my proposed tax increase on the state's largest, most profitable casinos," Neal said, "only if the governor calls an immediate special session of the legislature to pass the rest of my initiative in its entirety and putting the increase into effect upon passage."

Neal proposed a two percent increase to last year's legislature. Last week, Neal participated in a Las Vegas televised debate with Harrah's Vice-President Jan Jones, Neal's 1998 gubernatorial primary opponent who is now the industry's chief spokesperson on taxation. Neal revealed that Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, recommended to gambling industry lobbyists that they negotiate with Neal during the session.

Read More About It:

The Las Vegas Review-Journal's spin on the story:
Guinn threatens reprisals against petition supporters

The Las Vegas Sun's rotation:
Guinn says fold

Sun, too:
Meet Dudley Scrooge

The Carson City Nevada Appeal's appraisal

The industry refused and ordered Neal's Senate Bill 88 assassinated. Two percentage points were too much last year and a five point increase is apparently too much now. What's fair when Nevada communities statewide are raising property taxes and pushing special taxes to pay for growth? Links to news stories about many of them are accessible through JoeNeal.org.

The 28-year lawmaker's initiative calls for a five percentage point increase on 107 large casinos grossing more than $1 million per month in gambing revenue. All are located in three counties, Clark (Las Vegas), Washoe (Reno-Sparks) and Douglas (S. Lake Tahoe). Nevada casinos pay the lowest taxes in the world. The legislature has not passed an increase in the gross gaming tax since 1987. Taxes on many other aspects of the state have risen by triple digits during that time. The petition text and a full background on the issues may be accessed at JoeNeal.org and NevadaLabor.com.

The Nevada State Education Association, the teachers union, also refused to fold its still-unpublished petition to impose an income tax on all businesses save gambling and mining.

Ironically, the gamblers' own study has inadvertently proven Neal's assertion that gaming does not pay its fair share of taxes for the growth it causes.

According to the March 15 Las Vegas Review-Journal, "the report cites health and social service expenditures, which increased by 12.2 percent annually, as the only area of public spending to grow significantly faster than the population."

This was predicted by the Guinn-Hunt administration's own study conducted by the Nevada Dept. of Economic Development last year. That research showed that low-wage gambling related jobs spawn big government and demands for increased taxation as the public is forced to pick up the slack for the industry's stingy treatment of its workers.

The now-suppressed study has been posted at the Casinos Out of Politics section of NevadaLabor.com.

This column of Sept. 19, 1999, is instructive both in its analysis of the state study and for a revealing item therein:

"Last year, the gambling industry paid for a study by the Arthur Anderson accounting firm and UNLV. It produced predictable results: the state's major industry is paying more than its fair share and other sectors of the economy are not. Big mistake. They took a potshot at somebody with a research staff and a constituency."

The 9-19-99 column continued "'In effect, the (casino-funded Anderson-UNLV) study concluded economic development efforts do not bring sufficient tax revenues to justify the program and results in further burdening an already overburdened gaming industry,' states rebuttal research released last month by the Nevada Commission on Economic Development (NCED). It is headed by Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, R, who Gov. Kenny Guinn, R, just made interim state chair of the Nevada Republican Party."

And the lighter side from The Elephant Man:
Sparks Casino Magnate John Ascuaga thinks he deserves a tax freebie.

"He calls letters from guests heart-warming, but acknowledges that not all are positive. Negative comments are addressed immediately.

"'We look at every one of them - it's all constructive,' Ascuaga said.

"Tax issues: Ascuaga is less sympathetic, however, to a petition circulating for an 80-percent increase on Nevada's gross gaming tax for casinos making $1 million a month or more in revenue.

"'Maybe we have to figure out (how) we can have a decrease in our taxes,' he said. 'Maybe we have to see where we can make some cuts in our spending,' he added, supporting Gov. Kenny Guinn's review of state spending and taxes.'

"'Why should we have an increase?" Ascuaga asked. 'Maybe we've got too many freebies with some of these industries coming in,'" he said, adding, though, that he welcomes them. 'I'll tell you some of these (casinos) will not be able to continue on' under the tax proposal. 'It's ridiculous.'

"Ascuaga's fire clearly continues to burn after 45 years in the business and more fuel keeps getting added, he said."

Read the whole Ascuaga puff piece in the Reno Gannett- Journal (The above is at the living end if you want to cut to the chase.)

In honor of Mr. Ascuaga's generous sentiments, I will publish his profits in the Sunday, March 19 Y2K, Daily Sparks Tribune.

The study the gamblers published Wednesday came from the Arthur Anderson accounting firm and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. It would appear that the gambling-industrial complex merely repackaged old wine in a new bottle on the Ides of March. This oversight has left Gov. Guinn cut and bleeding.

In his speech, Guinn made threats of recrimination against Neal and the Nevada State Education Association. He said he would make sure that Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and Nevada teachers get no pay raise in 2001 if they do not fold their petitions. He further threatened that they will have no place in the legislative debate on their issues. In fact, no one may place such limits on access to government in a democracy.

Highway Patrol troopers are severely underpaid compared to peace officers working for other Nevada governments. They have consistently been denied pay increases by the state legislature. Neal's petition earmarks funds to bring their pay to parity with metropolitan police.

The 2,200-member Nevada Classified School Employees Association is backing Neal's petition.

A summary of this story was posted on March 15, 2000, at the breaking news bulletin boards of JoeNeal.org and NevadaLabor.com.


DETROIT, March 15 (Special to NevadaLabor.com) -- "Andy, good news, we won at (the Flamingo Hilton in) Laughlin. I think yesterday's result was 21-17. Dave Hickey at the Int'l should have the results. Thanks for all your support." Scott Brooks, Attorney for United Plant Guard Workers of America.

See the Barbwires of 3-5-2K and 3-12-2K at the Barbwire archive of NevadaLabor.com or use the search engine at the front page to learn why this election was so important. A complete followup will be posted soon.

Congratulations to the littlest union which continues to whip the largest, meanest gambling company in the world.



Be well. Raise hell.


NevadaLabor.com | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of U-News, where the past four years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988 .

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