July 16, 2019
16 Jul 2019

Political Update – July 16, 2019

VICTOR JOECKS: Letter from Nevada Democrats hints at quid pro quo

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal 

July13, 2019

Even by swampy congressional standards, a letter signed by three Nevada Democrats to a local casino company reeks of demanding quid pro quo.

In May, 13 congressional Democrats sent a letter to Frank Fertitta, chairman of Red Rock Resorts. The signers, including Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, urged Fertitta to “respect the rights of employees at Red Rock Resorts Inc. properties to form a union and collectively bargain.” That seems like little more than another poke in the eye from allies of the Culinary union.

But the letter took an unexpected turn. It started talking about tax policy.

In 2017, Republicans passed tax reform. In their haste — insert joke about “passing the bill to find out what’s in it” here — a drafting error changed the depreciation schedule for certain capital expenditures. Before the bill, companies could depreciate interior remodeling projects over 15 years. After the bill, businesses had to spread those expenses over 39 years.

The letter points out that Red Rock Resorts is seeking to revert that provision to its original form. The company is hardly alone. Hundreds of businesses — including Wendy’s, Best Buy and Target — have asked Congress to make the change. A bill to do just that has 169 co-sponsors. Titus, Lee and Horsford are among the 88 Democrat co-sponsors.

There’s not a policy link between the two issues, but there is a political link. The letter notes that Red Rock Resorts “is currently completing a $690 million renovation of the Palms Casino Hotel.” The drafting error in the new tax law is likely costing Red Rock Resorts tens of millions of dollars.

“We were disappointed, however, to learn that the company has refused to recognize the union at this facility, even after 84 percent of employees voted to form a union,” the letter reads.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“It’s fine for congressional Democrats to support the Culinary. What’s unacceptable is using their political power to threaten Red Rock Resorts for not acquiescing to union demands.”

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal 

Segerblom wants sales tax hike to fund schools

Ray Hagar
Nevada Newsmakers
Las Vegas Sun

July 14, 2019

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom said on “Nevada Newsmakers” that he is ready to start working to get more funding for the Clark County School District through a sales tax hike.

The Nevada Legislature recently gave county commissions the authority to implement a quarter-cent sales tax increase for education.

“I ran a campaign with the platform of ‘give me the authority for a 1-cent sales tax so we can give $400 million to the School District,’” he told host Sam Shad. The district faces a $17 million budget deficit entering the new school year.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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July 9, 2019
09 Jul 2019

Political Update – July 9, 2019

Will new Nevada law lead to state income tax?

Steve Wolford
News3LV

July 3, 2019

On June 13, Governor State Sisolak signed a bill giving state employees the right to collective bargaining, but the Nevada Policy Research Institute says it may have put Nevada taxpayers on a trajectory that will increase the cost of government for state employees who work for agencies like the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“The price tag associated with this is something that really worried us,” said NPRI Communications Director Michael Schaus. “simply because we’re already straining our budgets.”

Local union leaders disagree. Harry Schiffman, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 4041 says it’s too soon to even know because a deal hasn’t even been negotiated yet, and safeguards are built-in to the law to keep raises in check.

“Even if they all agree to a deal, it’s still the governor,” said Schiffman, “the governor still has a say whether he agrees, or he wants to veto it or to change it, and also, it has to go back to the legislature.”

That’s something the NPRI says could be difficult to do because of the intense political pressure unions can exert on politicians, and eventually, the growing cost of state government could hit critical mass.

“The big concern is, sooner or later the income tax is going to be an issue that is going to be talked about simply because lawmakers are going to run out of existing revenue sources to keep on increasing our tap,” said Schaus.

Shiffman, however, says if a state income tax goes on the table in Nevada, collective bargaining won’t be the reason.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“The big concern is, sooner or later the income tax is going to be an issue that is going to be talked about simply because lawmakers are going to run out of existing revenue sources to keep on increasing our tap.”

 Michael Schaus, Communications Director
Nevada Policy Research Institute

PUBLIC WORKER CONTRACTS SHOULD BE NEGOTIATED IN THE OPEN

Thomas Mitchell
Mesquite Local News

July 4, 2019

Despite being duly warned, Nevada’s Democratic lawmakers and Democratic governor this past legislative session lit the fuse on a huge budget bomb — passing and signing into law Senate Bill 135, which gives state public employees the right to collectively bargain for wages and benefits.

A study commissioned by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates this unionization could in two decades increase the cost of state public employees as much as $1.75 billion a year in inflation-adjusted dollars. The entire current general fund budget amounts to about $4 billion a year.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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July 2, 2019
02 Jul 2019

Political Update – July 2, 2019

EDITORIAL: Why government pension plans are failing and what to do about it

Las Vegas Review-Journal

June 29, 2019

The stock market continues to flirt with record highs, yet government-run pension plans are far from fully funded. That should concern every taxpayer.

The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada, which is officially only 75 percent funded, falls into that category. The funded ratio would be much lower if PERS were held to the same accounting standards that government regulators demand of private companies.

Starting on July 1, contribution rates are increasing to 29.25 percent for regular employees. That’s the fifth increase since 2009, when the rate was 20.5 percent. Government agencies (read: taxpayer) and employees split the contribution rate increase equally.

In a recent National Affairs article, Manhattan Institute senior fellow Josh McGee traces how government pension plans, such as PERS, have ended up in this precarious predicament.

The plans started small and promised modest benefits. For instance, PERS’ initial contribution rate in 1948 was 5 percent on the first $400 in salary. But rates didn’t stay that low in Nevada or around the country. Mr. McGee points out that employer pension costs grew from 9.6 percent to 16.9 percent of payroll from 1988 to 2017.

As workers grew older, the plans expanded by taking in new members. They also grew, because government hiring expanded rapidly. Unfortunately, governments didn’t fully fund the cost of their promises. Part of the reason was that plans unrealistically assumed they would earn investment returns of at least 8 percent annually. For instance, PERS assumed an 8 percent rate of return for decades, before lowering it to 7.5 percent last year.

An 8 percent rate of return wasn’t as risky during the 1980s, when interest rates were high. Pension plans could earn those returns primarily by investing in bonds. But as returns lagged, pension plans moved more money into stocks and hedge funds. Those are riskier, but offer higher returns. Currently, PERS’ target allocation is 72 percent of assets in stocks, real estate and private equity compared to just 28 percent in bonds. In 2003, PERS aimed for an even split between bonds and investments in stocks and real estate.

When the inevitable next downturn comes, it’s going to hit PERS harder than before, because the system has taken on greater risk.

“The upshot of this history is that public pensions are bigger and riskier than ever,” Mr. McGee writes. “Pension liabilities and debt have never been so large relative to taxpayers’ capacity to pay, and pension investments have never been so uncertain.”

All this should sound like alarm bells to an elected officials, starting with Gov. Steve Sisolak. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence he or most politicians — particularly Democrats — care to be bothered. They’re far more interested in currying favor with government unions, which shower them with campaign contributions in return for ignoring the issue and even expanding benefits. Or, in Nevada, for allowing PERS to keep confidential from taxpayers certain information regarding the pension payouts they are forced to fund.

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“[Politicians — particularly Democrats are] far more interested in currying favor with government unions, which shower them with campaign contributions in return for ignoring the issue and even expanding benefits.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Free Market Watch:
There is Nothing ‘Progressive’ About Big Government

Nevada Business
Michael Schaus 

July 1, 2019

If progressive voters really want the kind of “bold” and “transformative” changes big-government politicians keep promising, they had better change their voting habits. Despite the lofty-sounding rhetoric, there’s nothing inherently progressive—new, innovative or revolutionary—about the policy proposals being touted by big-government proponents. In fact, far from effecting sweeping change, such policies largely serve to cement the status quo. For a prime example, look no further than the education debate that took place in Nevada’s last legislative session.

Far from fundamentally transforming the state’s educational status quo, progressives doubled down on the very policies that have been failing Nevada’s youth, even going so far as to decimate the one innovative alternative available to low income students: Opportunity Scholarships.

Far from embracing any bold innovation to the way we deliver education in Nevada, progressives actively worked to erode any educational reform or program that didn’t enrich the same government special-interests that have been running the show for decades. Public schools received more funding, scholarships for low-income students were kneecapped and, at one point, even public charter schools found themselves in the cross-hairs of “progressive” politicians. In other words, it was “more of the same” from the education establishment that has run public education into the ground—and it was hailed as a victory by “progressive” activists and lawmakers.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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