Not-so-special session

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled September 29 that the educational savings accounts (ESA) program passed in the last Nevada Legislature is constitutional, but the legislators must devise a new way to fund it.

No, the Governor’s call for a special session is not to help parents who wanted to send their children to a better school using the ESA school choice program. Rather, it’s to approve a tax giveaway to multi-billionaires to subsidize the National Football League, the most prosperous of all professional sports leagues.

The children of Nevada can just get in line for their educational funding, because Nevada’s one percent want We the People to pay for their brand new money-making wonderland. If the legislature rubber stamps the proposal of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, the Silver and Black will move from Oakland to Las Vegas, subsidized indirectly by the citizens of North Las Vegas. National Football Association stadiums promote corporate luxury boxes, not the poor man’s seats. I don’t expect the folks in North Las Vegas will purchase many luxury boxes built with room tax money that could have provided better schools or roads for them.

Raider Nation arose after the team moved back to Oakland in 1995 from its previous hiatus in Los Angeles. Oakland plays second fiddle to beautiful San Francisco, so Raider Nation fans wear the most outrageous costumes of any NFL fan base as an expression of their underdog status. Will the black hole soon become the blackjack hole? Will the Oakland Raiders become the Las Vegas Dealers?

The Sands Casino, Majestic Realty and the Oakland Raiders are proposing a room tax hike to subsidize the move to the tune of $750 million. The newly resettled Los Angeles Rams, formerly of St. Louis, at least had the common decency to build a stadium with their own money. NFL owners have been shamed into doing that lately. Las Vegas is not known for its decency or sense of shame. And even the Rams stiffed the citizens of St. Louis by leaving the city holding a hundred million in bond debt.

Economists have published study after study demonstrating taxpayer funded stadiums are not a good public investment. Stadiums make money primarily for the owners and the food courts, but the neighborhoods are not better off.

Two groups are already opposing public funding for the Las Vegas stadium. One is Nevadans for the Common Good. Joining them in expressing opposition is the Nevada Taxpayers Association. The NTA is under new management now that Carole Vilardo, famous in Carson City for her Kentucky Derby style hats, has retired after over 30 years at the helm.

The essence of crony capitalism is private profits made with public risk. Owners and investors in the new stadium are insured against risk by Nevada taxes. As they have in the past, the Raiders could get tired of Las Vegas and move back to the Bay Area or somewhere else. Or they could simply hold taxpayers hostage to demands for more stadium improvements.

Republican legislators wanted to provide new funding for the ESA choice program during the special session. But Gov. Sandoval said the funding question would be taken up in the regular legislative session. Republicans should demand that any special session takes up this vital issue while they still hold the majority.

The governor seems to think his primary duty is keeping Nevada’s power brokers happy. Their plans deserve our representatives’ undivided attention. The children of Nevada? They can wait. And if the Democrats take back control of the 2017 legislature? Their wait could be a long one.