Gov. Dudley Do-Right rides backwards again
Expanded from the 8-20-00 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Gov. Kenny Guinn is in a dither.
"There is something terribly wrong when this state has the best cash flow it has ever had, increasing tremendously, the fastest growing state in America, and we are last in so many areas," he told a Reno seminar last week.
"The Fourth Annual Governor's Economic Development Conference" was billed as the way to "unlock Nevada's future."
"Profits go up when taxes go down," said the slick, full-color promotional literature promoting the conference. Those willing to pay a couple of hundred bucks could acquire the wisdom accumulated at the Reno Hilton event.
"Nevada's business climate makes for a healthy bottom line," the brochure stated.
"Nevada collects no personal or corporate income tax, a policy woven into Nevada tradition by constitution and decades of statutory law," the material asserts, right above photos of Gov. Guinn and his fellow Republican, Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt.
The statement is grossly misleading. A personal income tax is barred, but a corporate income tax is allowed by the state constitution. The Nevada State Education Association is circulating a petition to place one on the ballot for a public vote. Nevada business interests, led by chambers of commerce under the Orwellian name of "The Nevada Pro-Education Alliance," are spending big bucks on all those TV spots you see decrying a "back door income tax."
Actually, we've already got several. Nevada is not a low-tax state. We just extract a lot of hidden taxes from our citizens to make up for hundreds of millions in corporate welfare subsidies to the gambling industry and other perverted public policy pets.
A study by the Guinn-Hunt administration's Nevada Commission on Economic Development has already answered the governor's question. It showed that our biggest problem is created by our biggest industry. Low-wage gambling casino jobs force the rest of the body politick to pick up the slack for little things like food and health care.
That's why the state can have record revenues and not keep up with the needs of an expanding population. Communities statewide are pushing for tax increases as a result. (See "Sen. Neal, conservatives and Gov. Dudley Do-Right agree.")
Dudley is content to say "Houston, we have a problem" and hope somebody will solve it for him.
Now that he apparently has decided that he wants a second term, he's coming perilously close to saying "read my lips: no new taxes."
If you believe his promotional literature, this is the workers' paradise: "With taxes so favorable, businesses aren't the only ones who benefit. Nevada's residents enjoy a much higher quality of living with more money for spending, saving and investing...With government leadership committed to a healthy business climate, everyone in Nevada can afford the good life."
Everyone? Tell that to the third-generation motel children of Reno's Fourth Street. Tell that to the food banks in Reno and Gomorrah South which consistently run short due to unprecedented demand.
The guv said he wants to fix the problem. His tobacco-funded Millennium Scholarship Program will send thousands of Nevada kids to college. Somebody should tell him that each dollar of scholarship money will cost the state university system four dollars more. Guinn has never mentioned the gap.
Like Dudley Do-Right of the cartoon mounties, he rides his horse seated backwards because the direction he's going is just too scary to face.
THE RIGHT BLIGHT. The City of Sparks must modify its proposed sign ordinance. As currently drafted, residential political signs will be limited to a total of nine square feet. That's roughly the equivalent of two small real estate signs.
Some communities have eliminated just about all political signs. In Hawaii and some suburbs of Phoenix, Ariz., sign wavers risk their lives on street medians before elections. No signs are allowed unless in the hands of a person. They haven't yet figured out a way to outlaw political speech altogether, but I'm sure someone, somewhere is working on it. That person probably harbors some dark admiration for the efficiency of the Chinese government.
Political signs are just like politics-- ugly, loud, messy, tasteless and a flat-out nuisance. But we all have a sacred interest in blessing that mess.
Based on number of exposures, yard signs are the cheapest form of political advertising. For all the talk we hear today about campaign finance reform, this is exactly the wrong kind.
BLIGHT FIGHTERS. If you want a textbook example of upside-down public relations, look at the way the Reno City Council has handled its billboard ordinance. I don't want billboards banned, but I also don't want them to spread like tall whitetop weed. Based on the fact that it recently revoked its own proliferation petition, that's precisely the outdoor industry's position.
The Reno citizen initiative limiting big outdoor signs will very probably pass. Perhaps there will be enough of the old council members left after the November election to repeal the initiative no matter what the vote. However, if the long lines which form in front of anyone circulating the petition to recall Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin provide any indicator, a freshly constituted Reno council may not be so brash.
FAIR SHARE AT THE STATE FAIR. Supporters of Sen. Joe Neal's initiative to raise the world's lowest gross gaming tax will be working the Nevada State Fair in Reno this week. To sign up for duty, go to www.joeneal.org or call (775) 333-0955 in Reno. To help in southern Nevada, contact Sen. Neal personally at (702) 399-2114.
Be well. Raise hell.
© Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 31-year Nevadan, 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 Sparks Tribune since 1988.
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