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Money grab

Traffic at McCarran International Airport dropped more than 13 percent in September when measured against the same month in 2007. It was the 11th consecutive month of such declines.

Meanwhile, gaming stocks have tanked and the state casino win has suffered double-digit monthly drops, reflecting a stagnant economy, lower visitor volume and perhaps an ominous change in visitor spending habits.

Against this stark backdrop, soldiers of the education establishment on Monday delivered more than 100,000 signatures to the Clark County Election Center demanding that the Legislature increase the room tax by 3 percentage points in order to generate more money for the public schools.

“We want to see needed resources and revenue get to the classroom as soon as possible,” said Lynn Warne, president of the state teachers union.

Never mind that a large tax increase will further burden an already struggling industry and could trigger economic consequences that actually threaten Nevada public school budgets.

The petition drive is in concert with an advisory question on the November ballot in Washoe and Clark counties asking voters whether they favor the room tax hike. Proponents of the measure hope a victory at the ballot box will prod the Legislature to enact the tax hike next session. If lawmakers balk, however, the petition signatures will ensure that the measure goes on the 2010 ballot as a binding initiative.

Some gamers, aware of the destructive ramifications of higher taxes, have nonetheless jumped in bed with the educrats, praying a room tax hike will help them head off teachers union efforts to increase the gaming tax. They deserve their fate when they choose pragmatism over principle.

Polls show voters favor the room tax increase.

But Nevadans must realize that this money grab comes with little regard for accountability. (In return for the millions, do Ms. Warne & Co. guarantee taxpayers an increase in student test scores or achievement? Ha. Ha.) And during these trying times — as the state’s economy sits on the brink and Nevada’s major industry faces an array of challenges — is this really a wise proposal?

Even a schoolchild can see it isn’t.

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