WyBETT
                             Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
WyBETT   Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
 
 $450 Million Lost From New Mexico Economy

Tribal casinos and their apologists insist that their casinos somehow infuse new income into our economy, and have been suggesting that their revenue from casinos has been in excess of $260 million a year recently, but state agencies indicate the amount of money drained from the New Mexico economy is much more. According to an article in the Sept. 20, 1996 Albuquerque Journal, " Up to $450 million a year may be spent on Indian gaming, the state's ranking tax collector told a legislative committee on Thursday.

"If that much money is spent in Indian casinos, the state is losing about $17 million per year in gross receipts taxes, said John Chavez, the secretary of the state Taxation and Revenue Department."

The article continues, "Gov. Gary Johnson signed 14 gaming compacts with Indian tribes in early l995, but the state Supreme Court later that year ruled the governor had exceeded his authority in signing the compacts without legislative approval.

"Three federal judges have since declared the compacts invalid, but the issue is on appeal.

"Chavez told the state Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee that his department thinks Indian gaming may be one reason the state collected $23 million less than anticipated in gross receipts for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

" It has had an impact,' Chavez said of Indian gaming, but admitted that, we are drawing conclusions from very sketchy data.'

" There's $450 million of economic activity that we can't account for,' Chavez said. We don't know how much money is running through the Indian casinos.

"The department has ruled out other explanations, such as layoffs at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a drop in construction, the state lottery, a general drop in consumer spending and tourism.

" I get kind of nervous when I hear of that kind of leakage,' said Rep. Jerry Sandel, D-Farmington, chairman of the committee, referring to the untaxed $450 million. Something is going wrong somewhere.'

"Sandel said that money spent in casinos is money taken out of the (state) revenue stream.' Because most of the state's budget is spent on public schools and universities, it means less money available to-spend on education, he said."

Almost half a billion dollars drained from the New Mexico economy! Possibly $23 million lost to the state revenue stream! Professor Earl Grinnols of the University of Illinois indicates that casinos will contribute the equivalent of an extra recession every seven years or so. Remind us again quickly about the benefits of Indian Gaming.