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Colorado Gaming Commission Raises Tax Rates

The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission in May unanimously voted to raise the state’s casino tax rate by 5 percent, the Denver Business Journalreported.
The increase will bring the casino tax rate back to 2011 levels, raising the highest tax rate from 19 percent to 20 percent.
The commission cut the tax rate a year ago to help the state’s struggling casino industry. After that controversial decision, a disappointed Gov. John Hickenlooper replaced the entire five-member board.
The commission believes its decision to increase the tax rate will not substantially damage the state’s largest casinos and will help state agencies recoup revenue lost during the past year.
Commission Chair Robert Webb cited the passing of Amendment 50 as another reason behind the tax increase. Under the amendment passed by voters in 2008, the amount of taxes state casinos pay was reduced from 40 percent to a maximum of 20 percent. That factor, coupled with the reported $7.5 million in profits for the Colorado casino industry in 2011, made the decision clear for Webb.
“I’ve come to the inevitable conclusion that … when you look at the profitability and the trend of profitability, it would seem to me to indicate clearly that if we restore the rates to where they were in 2011, then a reasonable profit can still be assured,” Webb told the Denver Business Journal.
The tax increase will take effect July 1. The Colorado Division of Gaming estimates the tax increase will produce an additional $6 million in revenue.
 
SCHOOL CALENDAR PROPOSAL
If California voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed income and sales tax initiative in November, school districts may receive the option to cut up to 15 days from their school year. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in April that Brown recommended giving districts the option of reducing days to help offset automatic budget cuts. Public schools would take a tremendous hit if the initiative fails, with close to $5.5 billion out of the $6 billion in involuntary cuts coming from education.
 
BYCATCH SALMON
Salmon that are incidentally caught by commercial fishing boats while going after other fish in Oregon will no longer be wasted, The Associated Press reported. Gov. John Kitzhaber in May signed the bycatch bill, which would give the normally discarded salmon to the state. Under the law, processors would keep some of the salmon to defray costs and food banks would buy the rest at a substantial discount.
 
CRIME STOPPERS
New Mexico Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel would like all state prisons to have Crime Stoppers and rape crisis hotlines for inmates to report sexual assaults, according to The Associated Press. Marcantel said the state will look at strengthening reporting policies and procedures, as well as pushing more laws intended to fight sexual assault in prisons. The secretary’s comments are in response to a lawsuit filed in early May by a former inmate, alleging a prison guard raped and threatened him.
 
JOBS RECOVERY
It will take Nevada more than five years to regain the estimated 170,000 jobs lost during the recession, according to a report released by forecasting firm IHS Global Insight.  Nevada had the nation’s highest unemployment rate in May at 11.7 percent and is one of three states IHS Global Insight identified as not returning to pre-recession employment levels until sometime after 2017, the Las Vegas Sunreported.
 
CAPITOL RENOVATIONS
Wyoming’s state budget that takes effect July 1 includes $4.4 million to construct a new state office building. The new complex would accommodate some agencies currently housed in the Capitol as well as in various leased office spaces, according to the Casper Star Tribune. In addition to the new building, plans include a renovation of the current Capitol. The state hopes to eliminate much of the $6.3 million it pays each year to lease office space.


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