Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 30, 2020
Las Vegas city officials have a message for the tens of thousands of jobless taxpayers struggling to keep food on the table and make rent during the region’s devastating economic freeze: Pound sand, suckers!
The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 100,000 Americans, brought business owners to their knees and cratered government budgets. Gov. Steve Sisolak estimates a shortfall of up to $911 million for the current fiscal year, as a rushing stream of tax collections has evaporated to a trickle. Cuts and layoffs loom at state agencies.
Over at Las Vegas City Hall, however, the folks on Main Street prefer a different approach. Instead, they’re taking inspiration from the boys at the Delta House with a budget proposal that can generously be described as a really futile and stupid gesture and only reinforces the notion that too many of Nevada’s elected officials are more concerned with pandering to government unions than with serving the taxpayers they purport to represent.
Even after more than two months of minimal economic activity, the city remains so flush with cash that it can apparently move forward without eliminating jobs or asking employees for wage or benefit concessions. Instead, it sits poised to provide 1,300 of its workers with 3.23 percent hazard pay bonuses in July even if they were not on the job during the coronavirus shutdown.
“Everybody gets it,” said DeAndre Caruthers, president of the City Employees’ Association, “if you were at home or if you were working.”
The indefensible perk comes as part of a tentative deal the city reached May 14 with the largest of its four bargaining units. To make matters worse, the bonus money, Mr. Caruthers revealed, is supposed to come from the $119 million the city expects to receive through the CARES Act, one of the massive coronavirus relief packages passed by Congress.
Where to begin?
Unemployment claims have so smothered the state that thousands of furloughed private-sector workers still await their jobless benefits. Yet city employees who have been idling at home since mid-March while still cashing paychecks will pocket bonuses paid for by those very same luckless workers. In what alternative universe is this appropriate?