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OPINION: Diversification’s unhappy history: Part III


Some of the state’s most powerful interests have long fought broadening Nevada’s job base

by Steven Miller – Nevada Policy Research Institute

In early 1999, the Nevada Resort Association was on a roll.

The previous fall, its members had successfully installed their own “Anointed One” in the governor’s chair — a former director of Boyd Gaming who shared their eagerness to increase taxes on non-gaming businesses.

His name, of course, was Kenny Guinn.

Touring the state in 1990 and ‘91, Guinn had vigorously beaten the drum for a new state business income tax and a sales tax on services. Given that record and his long history of pushing for ever-higher property taxes in Clark County, Guinn might have seemed a long-shot in the 1998 GOP primary. No credible opponent entered that contest, however, and the gaming industry front-loaded the Guinn campaign with both a huge war chest and top-flight campaign professionals. Those pros then crafted a big, slick mailer assuring Republicans that Guinn would govern as the second coming of Ronald Reagan and sent it to every GOP voter in the state. It worked.

Among gaming insiders, it was widely known that Guinn was entirely committed to the NRA’s crusade to change Nevada’s tax structure. During both the primary race and the general election campaigns, however, he was never seriously confronted on the issue.

Once elected, though, Guinn increasingly allowed the mask to slip. Publicly, he began saying what he’d been saying in 1991, that “growth doesn’t pay for itself” — a major NRA talking point.

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