Governor's allies suddenly not so set against taxes

Gov. Gibbons has gotten plenty of mileage out of his vow to not create any new taxes nor institute any new fees. In fact, in an administration marked by missteps and controversy, it's the one line he's been able to pull out whenever he's needed a round of applause in a tough room.

But the state's economy has slowed, revenues have come in below expectations and there's no shortage of problems in need of costly solutions. Cutting budgets was the smart short term solution, but the governor is now facing pressure from those he's counted as allies (and campaign contributors).

Casino executives, facing a ballot initiative that would increase the taxes they pay, have called on the governor to drop the no-new-taxes pledge, saying they're already burdened with too high a tax burden. They want other industries to shoulder a greater portion of the load.

Absent from their arguments was any contention that things are fine just as they are, at least when it comes to education, the focus of the ballot initiative. The MGM's chief executive acknowledged something needs to be done about the state's pitiful education rankings, so long as it doesn't include shaking down casino owners for more.

"Standing behind the no-new-tax pledge, with the needs the state is facing today, is not a good way to solve any problems," said Boyd Gaming President Keith Smith.

We're sure Gibbons will stand firm in the short term - he's been reluctant to raise taxes or fees even when those who would pay have been willing, as is the case with proposed off-road vehicle registration.

And it's possible, if unlikely, the economy will improve and come to the rescue. But if that fails and budget cutting doesn't prove to be enough, where will he turn?

The answers to that question may well define the ultimate success of his administration.

• This editorial represents the views of the Appeal editorial board


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