It happened again. A lengthy article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal tells how the state government of Nevada has long failed to enforce its own law requiring review of emergency response plans filed by big places like casino hotels. This is no small matter especially given the October 1 massacre by a gunman firing from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino across the Strip to an outdoor performance venue that killed 58 and wounded more than 500 (just voted the year’s biggest crime story by CNN).
Earlier this year, I wrote a long piece for The Nevada Independent about how the state Secretary of State’s Office doesn’t comply with a 2013 state law requiring that full financial statements or IRS Form 990s be posted on its website of charities soliciting for contributions in the state. This makes it a lot easier for sketchy charities that spend as much as 90% of the money raised on fundraising and overhead to hide their scandalous financial efficiencies from my now-fellow Nevadans.
Several state officials, including Republicans Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt (who is campaigning to replace Sandoval when his term ends next year), have refused to enforce a law calling for background checks on private-party gun sales that was actually passed statewide by voters in 2016. They say the law is flawed.
As someone still New To Las Vegas, I find only one conclusion to draw from this and other governmental actions–or inactions. Nevada is a state whose governmental entities and agencies do not take very good care of its citizens.
That might be a rude awakening to many now that Nevada has the country’s second-fastest population growth rate. Sure, there’s a rule of law here, but it may not mean all that much.
Of course, citizens get what they, or their elected representatives, vote for, and what they have voted for over the years is minimal taxation. Kiplinger ranks Nevada the fifth “most tax-friendly state,” which actually means anti-tax-friendly. There is no state personal or corporate income tax. Property tax as a percent of fair market value ranks in the broad middle of the 50 states. Even the average combined sales tax–which tends be much higher in states with no income taxes–stays out of the top quarter. (The Nevada statewide average is 7.98%, although the rate around Las Vegas is higher, 8.25%.)
As a result, Nevada has, according to several studies, the worst set of public schools in the country (here is one study), with the fifth-lowest spending per student and the second-lowest high school graduation rate. I also attribute this sad situation partly to the large number of recent Nevada newcomers who are empty-nest retirees who no longer have an interest in public education and who certainly don’t want to pay for it. This is small comfort to the worker bees with school-age children who comprise the bulk of the state’s population and keep the casino engines going.
Even the humanitarian response to the massacre seems aimed more at tourists–and their desperately needed business–than Nevadans. The overwhelming majority of the nearly 600 victims were from out of state. Funds started by Clark County officials to pay compensation has raised $22 million, but the endeavor smacks to me more of reparations.
“All for our country,” proclaims the state motto on the official Great Seal of Nevada (displayed nearby). The language was added in 1866, two years after Abraham Lincoln rigged the admission of Nevada as a state to aid his re-election chances. Nothing mentioned about helping Nevadans.