According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the Nevada teachers union is negotiating with casinos regarding initiatives to be placed on the ballot.
The Nevada State Education Association reached a last-minute deal Monday night with several major gaming properties in Las Vegas that will keep the association's petition to raise the casino tax off the ballot.
Teachers instead will seek a 3 percent increase in the hotel room tax rate, to a maximum of 13 percent...
Under the deal, reached with the help of key legislative leaders, proceeds from the room tax hike would offset a looming budget shortfall for the 2009-2011 biennium. After that, the proceeds would be used for teacher salaries and student achievement.
Well, isn't that nice of Nevada's teachers.
The paper had a follow-up story:
Voters may be asked in November whether they want the 2009 Legislature to increase hotel room taxes to ease the state’s budget woes and help schools, but major casino companies remain divided about the proposal.
The state teachers union agreed not to push a ballot initiative seeking voter approval to raise taxes of big casinos from 6.75 percent to 9.75 percent in exchange for three major casino companies’ support for raising the room tax.
Wynn Resorts, Harrah’s Entertainment and Station Casinos supported the deal, brokered with the help of Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, but chief executives of MGM Mirage and Boyd Gaming Corp. don’t like the idea. Las Vegas Sands Corp. previously came out against raising the room tax.
There are a couple interesting points here. The first is that the NSEA has not responded to my request for further information: how were these negotiations conducted? Who initiated the contact, the casinos or the NSEA? Were individual corporations contacted, or was a consortium representing casinos contacted? Additionally, I note that two of the three casinos mentioned, Station and Harrah's, are private corporations, and went private within the last year. (I know this because I had stock in both, and was bought out by majority vote of the shareholders.) Is that significant, does it point to a reason why they'd negotiate with the teachers union when MGM and Boyd would not?
One thing's for sure--I wouldn't be very comfortable if the teachers union were so blatantly meddling in the most successful industry in my state.
Teachers are indeed holding casinos' feet to the flames, and deserve some punishment for it from right-thinking people everywhere. But don't forget that the casinos are in this position because the Nevada Republican leadership hung them out to dry.
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