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Downturn on Las Vegas Strip affects political decisions throughout Nevada

September 8, 2009 |  4:24 pm

Vegas Strip

Nevada’s economic engine is the Las Vegas Strip, and for the last two years, that engine has been sputtering. That’s not only led to rising unemployment rates and a wildly unhappy electorate, but also to a number of painful political decisions.

Gaming taxes comprise about a third of state revenue, and sales taxes makes up another large chunk. As the tourism industry faltered, both have dropped so much that the Legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto to raise taxes, which still couldn’t save education and other services from cuts.

To balance the budget, lawmakers also rerouted tens of millions of dollars from Clark County to state coffers. Now the county must figure out how to provide for the wave of newly unemployed residents and continue to help the elderly and disabled. There’s no relief in sight either.

Some political types expect tax revenue to fall so far below projections that Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican, might call the part-time Legislature back to Carson City. And though frazzled gaming executives contend the recession has eased, their expansion plans for the Strip – centered on ever-pricier hotel rooms, boutiques and steakhouses – have proven ill-timed.

Check out this week’s look at the sagging fortunes of the Strip and remember that as the Strip goes, so goes Nevada.

-- Ashley Powers

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