Jon Coupal- Columnist
is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers
Association -- California's largest taxpayer organization with
offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. [go to website] [go
to Coupal index]
Should Be Fair and Predictable
Prop. 70 and tribal gaming...
[Jon Coupal] 10/20/04
The issue of tribal gaming in California is complex and has
far-reaching consequences that are important to all Californians.
That is why the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has carefully
reviewed the provisions of Proposition 70, which would place
into the State Constitution the requirement that tribal casinos
contribute to the state a percentage of their revenue, an amount
that is equal to the tax paid by California corporations, about
The situation today is that different tribes are being charged
vastly different rates -- and in some cases nothing -- with no
apparent rhyme or reason. This problem began with the administration
of Governor Gray Davis, who negotiated 20-year compacts with
53 gaming tribes that did not require any payment to the State.
In response, the administration of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
has negotiated compacts with five gaming tribes and five tribes
seeking to open casinos. The result is ten compacts each with
This raises the possibility that negotiations with other tribes
will drag on for many years, and that someday we will have more
than fifty individualized deals. Many tribes with casinos have
no incentive to make a deal with the Governor because they have
17 years left on their current compact with the State. They may
choose to simply wait out the current Governor. On the other
hand, Proposition 70 asks for a fair payment and in return provides
the tribes with the protection of certainty. One uniform deal
that goes into effect now is better and fairer for everyone.
Another important observation: Although Indian land is sovereign,
tribal members are an integral part of our California community.
It is unfortunate that some critics have tried to demonize our
Indian neighbors with false and misleading charges that they
don't have gaming audits or pay property taxes. The fact is that
Indian tribes pay millions to California's local governments
around the state even though they must still provide for services
on their sovereign reservations -- such as roads, electricity
and medical centers. Their casinos are routinely audited under
the 1999 compact provisions -- provisions which are very strict
and more intrusive than audits that exist for California citizens.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has supported much of
Governor Schwarzenegger's agenda as he has worked diligently
on cleaning up the mess he inherited. But on the issue of Indian
gaming, we believe that Proposition 70 reflects fairness for
California taxpayers as well as the tribes themselves.
Proposition 70 compacts
mean all Indian gaming tribes will pay equally for their gaming
operations and pay at the same rate
as other Californians. This means nearly $2 billion for California
over the next five years. These revenues will help protect taxpayers
from the specter of tax increase proposals to balance the budget.
In addition, Proposition 70 is our "last, best chance" to
reach a deal with tribes who do not have to negotiate unless
they want to.
Proposition 70 is a fair deal for all Californians. CRO
2004 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association