Saturday, February 02, 2008

Props. 94-97: a bad idea

Don't take it from me, take it from the progressives over at, who call upon Democrats and progressives to vote against the Indian gaming propositions. They provide the following reasons.

A No vote on these referenda would overturn the compacts. These compacts do not make any guarantees of revenues to the state, although they toss around huge numbers in their ads, $9 B is the normal number. This number is through 2030, the life of the compact, and the Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that on an annual basis, the income will be no more than $200M for the next few years, ranging up to the mid-hundreds of millions at their height. That is between 0.2% and say, 0.5% or 0.6% of the annual general fund income, which is currently $100B. Furthermore, if non-gaming tribes do not receive enough revenue, as dictated by the compacts, the state has to dip into its portion of revenues.

Furthermore, there is the issue of the unions. The tribes are not subject to NLRB standards, and these compacts make no assurances that the workers of this casino will have fair opportunity to organize.

The progressive San Francisco Bay Guardian also came out against the propositions, providing more details on why it's a bad idea.

But this is a shady deal, and voters should reject it.

Props. 94–97 would allow four tribes — all of which have become very, very wealthy through gambling — to dramatically expand the size of their casinos. The Pechanga, Morongo, Sycuan, and Agua Caliente tribes operate lucrative casinos in Southern California, spend a small fortune on lobbying, and convinced Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to give them permission to create some of the largest casinos in the nation. Opponents of this agreement have forced the issue onto the ballot.

The tribes say the deals will bring big money into the state coffers, and it's true that more gambling equals more state revenue. But the effective tax rate on the slot machines (and this is all about slot machines, the cash engines of casinos) would be as little as 15 percent — chump change for a gambling operation. And none of the other tribes in the state, some of which are still desperate for money, would share in the bounty.

The big four tribes refuse to allow their workers to unionize. While we respect tribal sovereignty, the state still has the right to limit the size of casinos, and if the tribes want the right to make a lot more money, they ought to be willing to let their workers, not all of them Indians, share in some of the rewards. We're talking billions of dollars a year in revenue here; paying a decent salary is hardly beyond the financial ability of these massive operations.

The governor cut this deal too fast and gave away too much. If the tribes want to expand their casinos, we're open to allowing it — but the state, the workers, and the other tribes deserve a bigger share of the revenue. Vote no on 94-97.

I urge the Bruin Democrats to take these things into consideration before Tuesday's vote. Allowing workers the right to unionize is one of the key things that separates us from Republicans. Like it or not, unions have been the backbone of the Democratic Party. That these casinos do not allow their workers such a precious right is a travesty no matter how you look at it.

I understand I'm going against the club's endorsement on these propositions, but I ask that everyone look at what's really going on with the deals again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You, know I am fan of unions too. However, there's a lot of businesses in this state and country owned by non-Indians that don't unionize. Unless you want to put them out of business and force them to unionize that argument is retarded.

Furthermore, after the whole genocide of the Indians and seeing that most of this place was there's a few hundred years ago, letting them make massive profits isn't unjustified.