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A billion-dollar tax hike isn’t much at all

To the editor:

It seems that most of the media today want to throw out large numbers when relating to budget shortfalls, the federal, state and local debt and budget obligations. No doubt in the aggregate there are some really big numbers out there, especially those relating to the national debt.

The Sunday edition of the Review-Journal was no exception, with a chart showing that over the next biennium Nevada will have a projected budget shortfall of $1 billion (“Stopping a bleeding budget”).

There is no way that Mr. Las Vegas Sands, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, or I can come up with that amount any time soon. So using something less sophisticated than the new math now prevalent in our schools, let’s break this down to something more manageable. With 2.5 million people living in Nevada, simple math says that every person here needs to come up with $400 over the next 24 months in additional tax contributions in order to keep the state budget in check. This breaks down to $16.67 per month, per person.

Now it’s true that not every resident is a wage earner, but with an average of three people per household, that’s $50 per month.

So where are we going to get the 50 bucks? Maybe a temporary property tax surcharge, a sales and sin tax increase, a broad-based business tax or a gaming tax hike. We could hock our public land auction fund, institute a state employee pay and pension freeze or just borrow from Peter to pay Paul.

Spread the pain around, and if gasoline prices stay low — and there is a good chance they will — then this whack at our ever-shrinking wallets will be far better tolerated.

Richard Rychtarik

LAS VEGAS

Age of responsibility

To the editor:

Why would anyone in their right mind think that lowering the gambling age to 18 would benefit anything or anyone (“Gambling at age 18 opposed,” Thursday Review-Journal)? That means free drinks to these under 21 years old, also.

How about thinking about raising the driving age to 21? After the deadly accident this weekend with 15- and 16-year-olds drinking and driving, wouldn’t that make a little more sense (“Father mourns his daughter,” Monday Review-Journal)? Shame on anyone who thinks the gambling age needs to be changed.

Peggy Smith

LAS VEGAS

Smoking bans

To the editor:

I couldn’t help but laugh at your comments in Saturday’s editorial, “No smoking in the casino.”

First, a few facts. Bill’s Lake Tahoe Casino was not the first smoke-free casino in Nevada. The Silver City, located on the Strip across from the old Stardust, was the first smoke-free casino in Nevada. The Silver City went broke using that model, and so will Bill’s and the Fernley Nugget.

In Illinois, gaming revenues are down 18 percent since the casino smoking ban was initiated in January 2008. In Atlantic City, revenues are down 12 percent. In Nevada, since the 2006 passage of the smoking ban on some businesses, convenience store revenues are down nearly 40 percent and Herbst is headed toward bankruptcy.

Having been an executive in the casino business for many years, I can assure you that when no-smoking areas were tried on casino floors, they consistently underachieved the same layouts in normal, choice areas.

In a study conducted by the Nevada Tavern Owners Association, when comparing tavern revenues between 2006 (pre-smoking ban) and 2007 (immediately after passage), revenues were down an average of 12 percent, and the average tavern laid off 3.7 employees. I often wonder about the health of those laid-off employees now. And that doesn’t take into account the recession experienced this year by our businesses.

All of the economic consequences that tavern owners predicted have come to pass. All we wanted was the same free-choice decision that you are still advocating.

From my own experience as a tavern owner, none of the people who said they would suddenly start patronizing taverns because of the smoking ban have materialized. Please, if you don’t like cigarette smoke, don’t come in. But don’t impose your choice on others.

Joe Wilcock

LAS VEGAS

THE WRITER IS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE NEVADA TAVERN OWNERS ASSOCIATION.

More double-speak

To the editor:

Of course Congress wants to bail out the big three automakers. Out of one side of their mouths they say these auto manufacturers must make smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and out of the other side comes government orders for big SUVs that we see our government officials chauffeured around in.

Jerry Steffes

LAS VEGAS

 

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