Blustery Dudley & Hizzoner Griffin the Gaseous
Expanded from the 8-27-00 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Since taking office, Gov. Dudley Do-Right has been a sidewinder on finance. He almost proposed a new state tax structure in his inaugural state of the state address last year, then chickened out after his trial balloons were shot down.
Lacking anything innovative, Gov. Guinn proposed a budget buster boxed in benevolent bows: the Millennium Scholarship Program.
Starting now, any Nevada high school grad with a 3.0 average and two year's residency gets $10,000 in tobacco cancer money to attend Nevada colleges. Unfortunately, the formerly high-powered CEO never crunched the numbers. Each new student costs the taxpayers $50,000 over four years.
State legislators last week emerged from meetings shaking their heads: Mr. Guinn's going to have to find some new revenue somewhere. The guv hisself has admitted to a looming $1 billion shortfall. Insiders tell me that figure is substantially understated.
Guinn staffers have been busy lowering expectations for his vaunted re-evalution of state government. It will now save perhaps $30 million a year, a drop in the bucket in an annual budget topping $7 billion.
In 1991, Guinn, a Republican, was enlisted by his Dixiecrat predecessor, Bob Miller, to cut the state budget during the Gulf War recession of George Bush I. Guinn did what Nevada usually does: balance the books on the backs of the physically and mentally disabled.
Those fallback options are now pretty much precluded. The state injured worker insurance system has been privatized, making some guys rich in the process. Only a few of the mental health cuts have been restored, so there's not much left to kill in that bailywick.
Guinn's review will now be published in October, not September. Prediction: It will get postponed until after the November election, just like the 1988 Urban Institute/Price-Waterhouse study of the state tax system. All warnings in that $400,000 opus were promptly ignored.
The Guinn administration now stands convinced that growth has stopped paying for itself. But nobody therein has the guts to say that the casino industry, the principal cause, should take the major hit.
I forecast that the guv will ask the 2001 legislature to impose a sales tax on services, another way to extract more money from those of modest means while keeping the state's fat cat industries immune. Once that's done, gaming will begin to move for reductions in the world's lowest gross gaming tax. The industry will argue that the tax base has been broadened and there is no longer need for so much gambling money.
FAT CAT REPORT. The "Nevada Pro-Education Alliance" now has a website, www.nvproed.com. The group with the Orwellian name and big TV budget was formed by commercial interests opposing the teachers' business income tax initiative petition. The website lists a myriad of sponsors with one glaring omission: casinos.
This adds to the mounting evidence that the gambling-industrial complex supports the teachers' union petition. In recent interviews published in the Reno News & Review and Las Vegas CityLife, Nevada Resort Assn. Chairman Mike Sloan shockingly agreed with State Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas: gaming will soon pay more taxes. Sloan said that the industry will ante up as long as it's not singled out.
Translation: a nice package, including a sales tax on services, so that workers may continue subsidizing the plantation owners. A business income tax will cost casinos only about $17 million a year, far less than the $388 million which would be generated by Neal's initiative to raise the world's lowest gross gaming levy.
After deducting the state tax from federal tax returns, the actual bite comes down to about $10 million, pocket change for billionaires.
The teachers' petition even includes an unprecedented and illegal section killing Neal's initiative. Wonder who suggested that?
GRIFFIN THE GASEOUS GUSHES AGAIN. Like Gov. Dudley Do-Right, Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin has proven a costly example of why corporate CEO's make lousy public officials. Last week, Hizzoner called the conservative head of the city's financial advisory board a "baldfaced liar" after the panel unanimously questioned the escalating budget for the downtown Reno railroad track depression project.
Like Guinn, Griffin is used to underlings groveling on command. Government doesn't work that way.
Both men have proven temperamentally unsuited for public office in their first elected positions.
Guinn originally showed some promise, saying he only wanted one term. Now, he has apparently figured out that it's good to be king.
The citizens of Reno can begin to undo the Griffin damage by signing the petition to place his recall on the November ballot. Only two weeks remain. You can sign today at Horseman's Park in southwest Reno at Skyline and Pioneer from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You may also sign at Piece of the Pie Pizza at the north entrance to Park Lane Mall, Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You may drop by Reno Council Candidate Mike Robinson's office at 475 Hill Street in downtown Reno, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone (775) 322-7100.
POLITICAL POTSHOTS: Former university regent Nancy Price is running even with State Sen. Jon Porter, R-Henderson, for the GOP nomination to face Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Las Vegas. Should Mrs. Price prevail, union members will be forced to choose between two pro-labor candidates.
Nancy Price is married to longtime Assemblyman Bob Price, D-North Las Vegas, a member of the electrical workers union for more than four decades. (Try a websearch for "Bob Price" or "Nancy Price" from the home page of this site, then settle in for an evening of interesting reading.)
Democrat attempts to take over the state senate for the first time in a decade got serious on Saturday as Pahrump fire captain Ed Beaman walked the hometown of Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. The Dems need two seats. Business consultant Terrie Stanfill is currently running ahead of four-term Sen. Ray Rawson, R-Las Vegas.
MICHAEL MOORE, producer of "Roger and Me," the highest grossing documentary feature film ever, and Rage Against the Machine have created a "music video to express their disgust of what the Republicrats have put forth for this year's presidential candidates," according to a Green Party news release.
"The video ends with footage of Ralph from the Green Convention saying, 'if you don't turn on to politics, politics will turn on you.'"
To keep the video on the playlist, call 1-800-DIALMTV or vote through the MTV website.
They have also uploaded a clip of the video.
Nader, the most pro-worker presidential candidate, will visit Las Vegas on Sept. 15 and is hiring organizers in Reno and Gomorrah South.
Heavy duty Labor Day column next Sunday: Firestone tires and tired nurses.
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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