Stop giving our money away
As legislators point fingers at each other over the school construction bonds stalemate, both parties seem obsessed with giving away our meager coffers.
Already this session we’ve seen bills to award abatements, subsidies or tax credits to data centers, the aviation industry, and the filmmakers. There will probably be more requests before June, as various business interests plead for their corporate handout, each with their own expert promising jobs and prosperity if only they don’t have to pay the measly amount Nevada demands as the cost of doing business in the Silver State.
Like a stubborn child, they insist if they don’t get their tax break they’re not going to stay. Their whining is so offensive Democratic Minority Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick has more than once offered the number for U-Haul, an attitude more legislators should adopt.
In a state that does not generate enough revenue to fund education, human services, or infrastructure, why do we continually strive to give our money away?
Do we really believe the bought-and-paid-for expert economist who promises those data centers will produce “staggering effects on the state’s economy, generating billions of dollars in economic activity”? Or find credible the argument of the aviation industry that if we give them abatements for $665,000, in the first year we’ll get back “$1 million in increased tax revenue”? Or the film industry that says $10 million is just not enough—they need not a penny under $80 million?
The same people who demand demonstrable outcomes for every dollar spent on education or human services—and then don’t believe the studies that don’t fit into their preconceived notions of the value of preschool or kindergarten—have no problem believing every economist who promises the moon if this one particular industry could just get a Nevada tax break.
Those very same legislators who comb line after line in the state budget to be sure state agencies don’t spend one extra nickel have no trouble picking one industry over another when it comes to subsidies, acting like a king bestowing favors on his favorite knight. They’re not offended at all when the next industry shows up asking for the same. Greed knows no boundaries.
You’d think they all could do the math.
Nevada has no personal income tax. Nevada has no corporate income tax. But we do have Las Vegas, an energetic city like no other. We have wide-open skies and spaces in rural Nevada. We have unparalleled natural resources in the North. Nevada has a lot to offer business already. It’s our school children we should be worried about.
In a recent opinion piece in the Reno Gazette-Journal, economic official Mike Kazmierski laid out the grim news about the severe capital needs in Washoe County schools. Even if the poisonous Senate Bill 119 combining rollover construction bonds with sub-prevailing wages becomes law, it won’t come close to meeting maintenance costs or building the new schools needed to address anticipated growth.
But instead of acknowledging that much of the growth will be caused by the new people moving to the area to take those promised Tesla jobs, bringing new children into our already crowded and crumbling schools, and we don’t have the tax money we need to address the growth because we gave it all away to get Tesla in the first place, he suggests the same tired solution. Let’s raise the regressive sales tax temporarily—for 10 years!—and we’ll all pay the tab for the Tesla largesse.
Surely the serfs won’t mind.
How about this instead? Stop giving our money away. Tell the greedy corporations the gig is up. If they want to do business in Nevada, they need to pay us, not the other way around.
It’s time we took care of our kids.