UNLV economists revise controversial margin tax study

Remember that UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research margin tax study that caused all the hullaballoo, except in the two major Las Vegas newspapers that all but ignored it?

Well, it has now been "revised," and re-posted on the center's site.

CBER boss Stephen Brown said it was not changed under pressure after the administrtation tried to discredit it but because "colleagues pointed out some things that can be improved upon." He mentioned Mary Riddle and Bernard Malmud, who are mentioned in a new set of acknowledgements.

The conclusion -- that The Education Initiative will have a net positive jobs impact -- is unchanged, but the numbers have been adjusted downward quite substantially, which ought to make the administration and the business/gaming community happy. Which, of course, is what any higher ed institution should strive to do.

Here are the changes:

It matters how the additional funding affects educational spending. If all the additional 
revenue is used to hire new teachers, total employment in the state of Nevada will be boosted 
by roughly 11,500 jobs (0.7 percent) in 2016 and 9,100 jobs (0.5 percent) in 2017. The net gains 
include job losses in most, but not all, private sector industries. State GDP will be boosted by 
an estimated $362 million (0.2 percent) in 2016 and $163 million (0.1) percent in 2017.
To the extent that the additional revenue allows for increases in the salaries of existing
teachers and capital spending on schools, the gains in employment and GDP will be less. With 
the amount of the new revenue split equally across these activities, total employment in the 
state of Nevada will increase by only 4,000 jobs (0.2 percent) in 2016 and 1,700 jobs (0.1 
percent) in 2017. The net gains include job losses in most, but not all, private sector industries. 
The net effect on state GDP will be a wash across the 2016-17 biennium—with a small increase 
in 2016 and a small decrease in 2017.
We consider these smaller estimates to be more realistic. In addition to hiring new 
teachers, the additional funds raised by the margin tax are likely to be distributed across a 
variety of educational activities, including boosting the salaries of existing teachers and 
increased capital expenditure. Although the Education Initiative does not allow the funds from 
the margin tax to be used for capital spending, school districts can easily boost their capital 
spending by using their new funds to free up some of the monies currently devoted to salaries.

Contrast those numbers with the original report:

In particular, we estimate a statewide gain of 8,000-13,000 jobs in 2016 and 6,400-
10,400 in 2017. We also estimate that Nevada’s GDP would be boosted by by $630 million to 
$1,020 million in 2016 and $480 million to $790 million in 2017.

"The numbers are a little smaller but the conclusion is the same," Brown said.

A little.

The story just keeps getting worse for the university.

But no worries, Las Vegas Review-Journal and Las Vegas Sun: Nothing to see here. Move along to campaigning against the margin tax and finding celebrity photos in Tao.