A new and unimproved
It never ends. Each new “deal” to give public funds to billionaires is worse than the last. Our economic development authorities seem to spend every waking hour figuring out how to transfer taxpayer cash to the upper classes while Nevada’s workers fall further and further behind. As the average worker’s wages stagnate, our billionaires get bolder and bolder about stealing our money, encouraged by politicians who curry their favor.
Case in point: the Las Vegas stadium project which fleeces taxpayers while transferring untold new wealth to a greedy billionaire who just can’t get enough of our money.
Nevada continues to badly negotiate these deals for its citizens, passing movie production subsidies long after other states realized how much they were losing doing the same. We participate in bidding wars for companies like Tesla and then act surprised when there’s no tax revenue to repair our schools, expand our roads, or protect our seniors as they are priced out of their rentals in the name of growth. Now that it’s common knowledge that every publicly funded stadium deal has gone sour, guess what? We’re going to get the Raiders to move to Las Vegas for a mere $750 million in general obligation bonds, leaving the taxpayers on the hook instead of the developers.
The Legislature will soon be called into special session to approve a plan by the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee to fund a stadium through contributions by billionaire Sheldon Adelson ($650 million) and the NFL/Raiders organization ($500 million), saving the biggest contribution for Nevada’s taxpayers ($750 million). Proponents claim tourists will fund the stadium through increased room taxes but neglect to point out that education also receives this funding, including schools in Northern Nevada. And the deal reserves any potential profit for the private sector instead of our kids.
U.S. Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto is one of the few politicians to stand up for Nevada’s taxpayers. She told the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review- Journal, a newspaper owned by Adelson, that she was against dedicating any public funds to the project since Nevada is just now emerging from the recession and needs to dedicate its funds to education, mental health and infrastructure needs. Boiling the issue down to its most salient point, she said, “If a billionaire wants to build a stadium, then a billionaire should pay for the stadium.”
Particularly insulting to Washoe County voters is the arrogance and audacity of the stadium backers in demanding that three vacant legislative seats be filled just a month before the general election. They want to ensure these newly minted one-month legislators are primed to rubber stamp the project quickly in the special session, claiming they can’t wait for November’s election because they need time to convince the NFL owners to move the Raiders. What a flimsy excuse. They want to handpick the legislative appointments and avoid too many questions from new legislators who might feel more bound to represent the people who elected them.
Getting to a two-thirds margin in any tax vote is a tough sell, and those vacant seats count as no votes. Of course Democrats can easily kill the deal by voting no, or they could have demanded the Governor wait until after the election to call a special session. After all, Adelson writes millions of dollars of campaign contributions to Republicans and their PACs. They may feel he’s earned an IOU, but Democrats certainly don’t.
It’s a travesty that there’s such a rush to make a billionaire richer while our children suffer in overcrowded schools and our seniors can’t find affordable, safe places to live.
The San Francisco Chronicle called the proposal “the ultimate sucker bet.” You’d think as a gambling state we’d know better.