As I was walking out the door to drive up to Carson City from Las Vegas yesterday morning, I received a phone call from Wynn Resorts chairman Steve Wynn, whose corporate attorney had sent me an email the night before threatening legal action against me for using a quote about tax hikes culled from an interview Mr. Wynn did on Jon Ralston’s “Face to Face” television show last month.
The 1/2-hour or so conversation started out a bit testy – but then we starting discussing our personal opinions on the job performance of Gov. Jim Gibbons and discovered some pretty solid common ground.
The call ended cordially and on a positive note. Mr. Wynn requested that I meet privately with Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and Democrat Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley while I’m in Carson City today and, finding that to be a reasonable request, I called both offices yesterday and requested those meetings. I am not, however, sitting by the phone waiting for their calls.
In any event, while most of our conversation will remain private, Mr. Wynn does believe I neglected to accurately portray his position on taxes and asked that I clarify them to you for the record. Again, not an unreasonable request, so here goes:
One the hotel room tax. Mr. Wynn supports it to this day and doesn’t believe it will adversely affect tourism. He also assured me that his support for the tax hike wasn’t elicited at the barrel of a gun in the form of the teachers union’s threatened ballot initiative to hike the gaming tax.
On his statement that it would be “purely psychotic” to raise taxes right now, Mr. Wynn maintains he was talking about federal taxes, not state taxes. The video and transcript of the interview don’t back that up, but I’ll take him at his word that that’s what he intended.
On the payroll tax. Mr. Wynn supports it as the best way of quickly generating the additional revenue he believes the state needs right now.
On tax reform. Mr. Wynn believes we need to broaden the state’s tax base so that everyone is paying their “fair share.” However, he does not support reforming the state’s tax structure in a revenue-neutral manner. He believes we need to reform the tax structure AND raise taxes.
Mr. Wynn and I will continue to disagree on these issues; however, after our conversation and this clarification of his positions, I don’t think Wynn Resorts will be moving forward with their threatened legal actions.