Jim Clark: Tesla deal a big deal for Nevada
Wow! This Tesla deal, which seemed to have hovered around as a hoped-for expectancy for a long time, went together like greased lightning when the time finally came.
You have to hand it to Gov. Sandoval. Deal points announced Sept. 2, unanimously ratified by a legislature controlled by the opposite party on Sept. 11 and construction under way the following day — 6,500 new jobs, plus Nevada is now on a world map as a “can do” place for business and job creation.
The rapid sequence of events hardly afforded enough time for the naysayers to collect their thoughts and contact the media to chill the celebrations.
Southern Nevada legislators were taken aback at Gov. Sandoval’s proposal to partially fund the Tesla tax breaks by canceling an $80 million film industry tax break, a sweetheart deal Clark County Democrats hammered out last legislative session to attract movie makers to Las Vegas.
Other than that there were not many barbs thrown by the left which was a little surprising.
There was plenty of criticism from the right however. Advocates of free enterprise and market forces had plenty to say about the government “picking winners and losers.”
Conservative gad fly Chuck Muth urged readers of his statewide e-newsletter to contact legislators and tell them to vote the deal down.
He wrote: “According to the Nevada Manufacturing Association there are roughly 3000 small, medium and large manufacturing and warehousing businesses around the state. Those are manufacturers who are already in Nevada; many have been here for a long, long time. Why tax relief for the new kid on the block but no tax relief for them?”
The Las Vegas Review Journal editorialized: “It’s not that the state is doing this for Tesla that’s really the issue. It’s that the state can do this at all that’s the issue.”
Conservative think tank Nevada Policy Research Institute issued several bulletins at various dates following announcement of the deal.
A Sept. 8 bulletin posed questions about the impact on Nevadans including where the foregone tax revenues would come from, how existing businesses would feel about the deal and how it could be reconciled with the concept of equal justice under the law.
In a Sept. 9 release NPRI cited a New York University professor for the proposition that the Tesla facility would generate only 3000 jobs directly and perhaps another 1500 jobs indirectly.
The release goes on to posit that if correct each Tesla job would cost Nevada taxpayers $365,000; including indirect jobs the cost would be $240,000 per job. But how much would Nevada collect if Tesla went to Texas? Is that really a “cost” or is the analysis flawed?
In a perfectly competitive market most conservatives would agree that government should not be picking winners and losers. But with Tesla we have just the opposite.
A lithium battery gigafactory will be one of a kind with cutting edge technology which is why five states were in the running, with cash incentives and tax breaks, to attract Tesla to their borders.
In Nevada we believe in playing the hand that is dealt, not criticizing the dealer for the game called. Fierce state rivalry was the hand Gov. Sandoval was dealt and he played it very well against some well-heeled and tough competitors.
Congratulations, governor; new businesses and jobs for Nevada was what you campaigned on and it’s what you have delivered.
One post script. Last year US Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) lectured the Nevada Legislature saying that brothels should be outlawed because businesses will not locate in a state that permits such activity. Hmmm. Tesla will be a freeway entrance away from the Wild Horse Brothel. Wrong again, Harry.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served as a member of the Washoe County and Nevada Republican Parties. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.