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The Empire Strikes Back
April 12, 1998
"The empire strikes back," gubernatorial candidate Joe Neal said in response to today's attack by Gov. Bob Miller (D) and Sen. Richard Bryan (D-Nev.) in the Sunday Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I take personal exception to the governor and the junior senator putting words in my mouth about nuclear waste. I can speak for myself," Neal noted.
"Sen. Bryan said that I 'favor nuclear waste in our state.' Not so. I told the Review-Journal that if the gubernatorial veto were still allowed by federal law, I would not hesitate to use it. The paper curiously failed to print that remark.
"Sen. Bryan said I should change my position to help him in Washington. He has apparently been misinformed and articles such as today's do not promote understanding or a united front," Sen. Neal (D-North Las Vegas) said.
"Today's harsh reality is that the U.S. Senate now stands just two votes short of a veto-proof majority on nuclear waste storage in Nevada. Senators from Minnesota and Illinois control the swing votes and both states have waste piling up at their power plants," the 26-year lawmaker added.
"The safe transportation of that material has always been a major concern. My position there has not received attention, as it does not differ from the governor or the senator," Neal stated.
"My position on representing Nevada before the federal government has likewise never changed, but is sometimes misrepresented. Should we get out-voted in congress and become powerless to stop the siting process, then it would constitute dereliction of duty not to sit down with Washington on transportation, safety and all the other critical issues. You can't bury your head in the sand and hope they will go away," Neal added.
"We should not be forced to accept high level waste without maximum safety improvements, such as roads, bridges and general transportation infrastructure. We should also demand large amounts of cash," Neal asserted.
"Our people are in dire need. The gambling industry does not pay its fair share. Charitable groups statewide consistently run short of food for the needy, especially our large numbers of working poor. "I have suggested raising the gross gaming tax so that the three dozen largest casinos will finally pay a fair share for the impacts of growth they create and the low-wage jobs they bring. Will Gov. Miller endorse a gaming tax increase? Otherwise, what kind of budget will he prepare for the next legislative session?
"This is an attack I expected in October, not April," Neal stated. "The gambling-industrial complex has been unable to find a candidate to run against me in the primary. We all read the same polls. They know I'm closing in on their $3 million man. My call for large casinos to finally pay a fair share has caught on with the voters.
"The gamblers have unexpectedly found it necessary to bring in their retiring champion to attempt an early knockout," he added. "During the 1997 legislative session, gamblers facilitated the imposition of new taxes on everyone but themselves. Large casinos won millions in special tax breaks. The small consumer can stand no more.
"The conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute noted that average taxpayers have been hit with obscene increases in taxes and fees in recent years," Neal stated. The conservative think tank's March "Nevada Journal" published widely circulated numbers compiled by the Tax Foundation. NPRI senior consulting editor Ralph Heller wrote that "Nevada's 6.25 percent gaming tax is the lowest in the nation. Since the gaming tax was last raised (in 1987), Nevada's state gas tax has been raised 290 percent, its insurance premiums tax has been increased 75 percent, its basic automobile registration fee 310 percent, its cigarette tax 350 percent and its driver's license fee 250 percent," Heller noted.
"The nuclear utilities of other states should not get a free ride from Nevada," Neal stated. "Gov. Miller is now in his last year in office He has a choice. He can endorse an increase in the gaming tax or look for other sources of revenue such as the federal government. "Washington is on the verge of legislating a Nevada nuclear waste site whether they pay us for the privilege or not. Getting nothing for it and failing to raise the gaming tax means more children will go sick and hungry as gambling continues its unprecedented expansion into the next century," Neal said.
You can write to Sen. Neal at
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