Pennsylvania gaming tax revenue is double Nevada’s oh well

Home Means Nevada
Nevada collectively responds to fact that Nevada has by far the lowest gaming tax rate in the nation.
Home Means Nevada
Official Nevada’s official response to the age-old fact that Nevada has by far the nation’s lowest gaming tax rate.

Dina Taxcuts. Back before Rep. Dina Titus was in a safe seat and she was running for offices where Republicans spent money against her, they called her “Dina Taxes” in ads. Because Republican wit has always been very sophisticated. Anyway … well! These days Titus is advocating a tax cut, for that most crucial and indispensable of U.S. economic activities, sports betting.

Btw, the cosponsor of this vital piece of legislation that is sure to lift millions out of poverty and equal the playing field for working people the economy has left behind is a Republican from Pennsylvania. 

Nevada’s gambling industry, in normal times, is about four times the size of Pennsylvania’s, revenue-wise. And so naturally Pennsylvania’s gambling tax revenue, in normal times, is … about twice the size of Nevada’s. Tax rates, you see.

Third rail!!! The phrase may be confined to a figurative, not literal, meaning here in Nevada, where we don’t believe in public transit by rail. But property taxes are something of a third rail of state and local politics everywhere – touch it and risk political death, because homeowners, you know, vote. Like a lot of states, Nevada has put artificial caps on property tax increases, to assure that as property values grow over time, property tax revenue will fall further and further behind. Brain-dead, policy wise. But popular politically.

And so what can perhaps be most accurately described as a teensy-tiny property tax adjustment proposal in the Legislature is being met with exactly the AM talk-radio caliber of huffery and puffery you’d expect.

The Nevada Constitution is a bug, not a feature. I couldn’t sleep the other night so I listened to a podcast from the London School of Economics, because that should put you to sleep, right?

It didn’t work. Political scientist Julia Lynch was talking about her book Regimes of Inequality: the political economy of health and wealth. I haven’t read the book – first I’d heard of it. I’m sure I’m oversimplifying, but nutshell: Inequality isn’t inevitable but a result of policy choices. Nations have long known how to fix inequality – redistribute wealth. But ever since the conservative ascendancy marked by Reagan-Thatcherism, politicians, especially those in corporate conservative nations like the U.S., have mostly been afraid to even utter the words “wealth redistribution,” unless it’s to say well they’re certainly not advocating that.

At the same time, center-left politicians (Democrats in the U.S. for instance) are supposed to be for equality. So one way they’ve tried to at least give an appearance of combating inequality over the years is by focusing on inequities in health care.

All this may sound familiar if you’ve paid even casual attention to a Nevada Democrat in a competitive campaign for the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives saying “preexisting conditions” over and over again.

Lynch didn’t focus on it specifically, but her presentation also reminded me of politicians who are for education and its policy/rhetorical wingman, workforce development. There’s a substantial virtue in aspiring for education policies that expand opportunity. But the public discussion/debate over education can also be a distraction, a super convenient way for politicians, especially center-left ones, to be loudly and even sincerely in favor of an ameliorative policy while never having to discuss wages, rent, paltry public services and other components of by far the most significant determiner of student success, economic stability of the student’s household. 

In Nevada there are countless other examples of elected Democrats’ full-on dread of confronting inequality. None is more damning than their unflinching refusal to even talk about the severe inequality-exacerbating consequences of not having a progressive income tax.

In Nevada, you see, income inequality isn’t just a condition. It’s a constitutional mandate.

(The above items were excerpted from this week’s Daily Current newsletter, the editor’s opinionated morning news roundup, which you can subscribe to here.)

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.