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Legislators warned not to pick on gaming for new taxes

CARSON CITY — Nevada Resort Association President Bill Bible warned legislators today against levying an industry-specific tax on gaming in light of the worst economic downturn ever to hit the state’s No. 1 industry.

Bible told a joint Senate-Assembly taxation committee that most gaming companies have laid off employees and reduced contributions to employee benefit plans. Some major resorts are on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, he added.

“These companies don’t have a great deal of latitude in changing their business models,” Bible said. “It is a perilous proposition to rely too heavily on one industry. Nearly half of the general fund revenue, directly or indirectly, comes from the gaming industry.”

He said the thinking by economists now is the decline in the gaming industry will not begin to recover before 2010.

Instead of looking for a tax on gaming to help the state through its economic woes, Bible, Nevada Mining Association President Tim Crowley, the AFL-CIO and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada all called for a broad-based tax on business.

Such a tax could be a business profits tax, a business income tax, an addition to the state’s current modified business tax or a gross receipts tax.

The taxation committees for the first time today listened as business leaders and special interest groups gave their advice on how to handle the state’s perceived budget shortfall.

In his proposed budget, Gov. Jim Gibbons said his spending plan of $6.17 billion was far short of the $8 billion that the state would need to keep services at the levels contemplated by the Legislature in 2007.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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