Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2022

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Where I Stand — Guest Column:

Jobs are key to getting economy on track

In August, Brian Greenspun turns over his Where I Stand column to guest writers. Today’s columnist is Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO.

Some politicians would like us to believe that the root of our economic problem — whether it’s our state budget or our national economic crisis — is one of too much spending. These politicians tell us the simple solution is to drastically cut spending — even if it means cutting programs such as Medicare that families increasingly depend on to get by in this stagnant economy.

Yet days after Congress passed the debt-ceiling deal, the Dow Jones industrial average continued to plunge. What Wall Street knows is that the solution to strengthening our economy isn’t in partisan stances or sound bites.

What our economy needs is to get Americans back to work.

How we get there in this state requires our elected officials to put aside politics and show real leadership and address Nevada’s primary obstacles to creating jobs: much-needed tax reform, investing in education and stopping the outsourcing of Nevadan jobs to out-of-state workers.

Tax reform

The gaming industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Las Vegas alone, and Nevadans across the state are grateful for the important economic effect the industry holds within the state. Almost half of our state budget is funded by taxes on the gaming industry. But unless we diversify our tax base, our state budget will always be prone to the volatile ups and downs of a tourist economy — and leaving government here to suddenly face cutting billions from the budget, cutting schools and universities, and laying off thousands of workers.

Instead, we need to stabilize Nevada’s revenue stream by creating a more fair tax system. Many Nevadans are unaware that big businesses such as Wal-Mart don’t pay a dime in taxes. That’s simply not fair to working Nevadans who do pay their share in taxes.

One proposal that our lawmakers should consider is the margin tax — which would only tax the profits of businesses, so if a business doesn’t make a profit, it doesn’t pay the tax.

Investing in education

If we want to diversify Nevada’s economy, we need to work toward investing in Nevada’s future workforce to attract new business. And we can do that by investing in education.

The Desert Research Institute is an excellent example of the cutting-edge technology we must invest in to create a jobs economy for today and tomorrow. Research parks such as DRI — hubs of technology, investment, manufacturing and learning — have helped local economies across the country boom.

But we can’t simply invest in research institutions alone. Are we providing our children with the education and resources they’ll need to step into the jobs of tomorrow? Parents of students enrolled in Clark County public schools are required to purchase basic supplies, just so our children can learn. With deep cuts to public education and higher learning, and partisan attacks on teachers in lieu of real education reform, the answer looks doubtful.

It’s not just children we should invest in. With Nevada’s unemployment rate rising again, let’s focus on providing opportunities for the unemployed to learn about green technology and other in-demand technologies and skill sets that will make our state a place for businesses to boom.

Stop outsourcing good Nevada jobs

Nevada has recently attracted good, green jobs in the energy sector by providing these companies with tax incentives to come here. Our politicians have a responsibility and moral obligation to the 12 percent of Nevadans — and nearly 14 percent of Las Vegas residents — who are out of work to ensure that with those tax incentives come requirements to create jobs that stay in state.

There’s no magic pill to solving our jobs crisis. But by creating a fairer, more stable tax base, by investing in education and by stopping outsourcing, we can put more Nevadans back to work today.

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