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Selling tobacco settlement would turn budget to ash

To the editor:

The biggest story in Nevada is our budget shortfall and the need to cut services to balance the budget. Gov. Jim Gibbons pledged during his election campaign that he would not raise taxes. Ever. So far, he seems to have held to that promise, and the debate goes on as to whether that is a smart move or not.

What is not a smart move, though, is one suggestion to sell off, or “securitize” the annual tobacco settlement money the state started getting several years ago, which was supposed to go strictly for health care costs associated with people smoking cigarettes (June 6 Review-Journal). Well, we all know that money has been put to several other uses, none of which has a thing to do with health care costs. The Millennium Scholarship is one of several programs that, while worthy, should probably never have been funded with the tobacco money.

But it was, and to now suggest that we take the dedicated future funding of this immensely popular and effective program away and sell that funding off, at a huge discount, no less, is even dumber. We will still have this program next year, but the funding will have been sold at the governor’s garage sale, and the budget will be in even worse shape next year.

Here’s another idea the governor might want to try that is just as ludicrous: Why not go to one of the 78,000 payday loan stores in Las Vegas and get a huge, short-term loan? The fees and interest rates won’t be any worse than the rip off we would endure selling off the tobacco funding.

Back to the governor’s stubborn refusal to reconsider his pledge of no new taxes. He gave his word. He promised. He can’t change his mind.

Funny, I bet first lady Dawn Gibbons believed him when he said “I do” those many years ago, too. While his marriage is his personal life and he can do as he wishes (and thanks for paying the state back for all those text messages about a dog), he seems to have changed his mind about that solemn promise, so why not reconsider the wisdom of his no-new-taxes pledge?

C’mon governor, as you well know, circumstances change, and what seemed good and right in the past may no longer be the best choice. Open your mind and look at all the options, including tax increases.

Jeff Belcher


Federal bailout

To the editor:

How about a very fair and viable solution to Nevada’s budget and education funding problem?

Without hesitation from the federal government, Bear Stearns was provided a huge loan to help it overcome an unforeseen and potentially disastrous loss of assets due to changes in the economy.

Nevada has also just experienced unforeseen and potentially disastrous loss of assets due to changes in the economy that will bear sternly on our educational system, taking up to a decade or more to recover from if immediate financial aid is not found.

Solution? Same or close to the same as Bear Stearns.

All we need is $600 million to $1 billion, not billions of dollars the Bear got.

Tell me Bear Stearns is worth a loan but the citizens and educational system of Nevada aren’t worth a dime? Then $150 billion for Iraq and bupkis for Nevada?

A financial disaster should qualify for loans the same as floods, earthquakes and fires because financial disasters of state proportions can destroy many lives as well.

Let’s get some disaster aid in the form of a loan — the federal government should help the citizens of this state and not just executives.

Jon Becker


No next time

To the editor:

My wife and I have vacationed in Las Vegas three times a year now for the past five years. We are not high rollers by any means, but we have always gotten our meals comped.

On our first two trips this year, the Rio and Caesars Palace wouldn’t comp any meals, and we played the same amount we have always played. It cost us more for gasoline to travel 100 miles to the airport, more for a hotel room before the flight, and, of course, more for the air fare.

If the big corporations that now own the casinos can’t comp meals anymore, I can stay in Wisconsin and spend my money right here. I have canceled a free, five-day, four-night stay at Caesars (what would have been our third trip this year) simply for the reason that if they are going to tighten up, so can I.

I am sure other people will consider other vacation options also. Keep your meals — I’ll keep my money.

Gary Johanknecht


School cover-ups?

To the editor:

Several recent letters have suggested consolidating the Clark County School District police and Las Vegas police. In his Sunday letter to the editor, John W. Schutt Jr. supported the idea, and gave as one of his reasons the following: “School police answer to the school administration and therefore rarely report crimes in the schools committed by district employees.” He gave no further explanation, but surely he, as a Las Vegas police officer and candidate for the Clark County School Board, must know of instances or he would not make the statement.

As a member of the taxpaying public, I want to know more. If district employees are committing crimes on the job, there should be no cover-up.

Owen Nelson


Thanks, Sheldon

To the editor:

It’s good to see that Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson stepped up and gave 40 wounded Iraqi vets a free weekend at the Palazzo on him (“R&R and some red carpet,” May 23 Review-Journal).

How many more big-shot casino owners have done something for the vets? They sure do enough for all the spoiled, give-nothing-back celebrities.

Mr. Adelson said any of the wounded vets were welcome, as many as wanted to come. That’s a pretty nice thing he did. It’s nice to feel appreciated.

Several of my friends and I, all in our early 60s, served our country in the military during the Vietnam fiasco and never felt appreciated.

A lot of people looked down on us, people who didn’t understand a thing about Nam. We didn’t want a parade or medals or anything. Just maybe a thank you, that’s all. Just a thank you.

When I got out of the Army in Fort Lewis, Wash., Dec. 22, 1968, I was told not to wear my uniform to the airport. Could you believe that? Well, my friends and I did wear our uniforms to the airport, and all the way to JFK in New York. The only thanks I remember getting was from the doorman at the terminal who called up the cabs.

I think in the past 40 years I’ve gotten a half-dozen or so thanks from some people.

Anyway, I’d like to thank Mr. Adelson for what he did.



No oil, no war

To the editor:

I read many letters and editorials about the similarities and differences between the conflicts in Vietnam and Iraq. The big difference can be explained by three words: oil, oil and oil.

As to a timetable for withdrawal, President Bush and his buddy Dick Chaney have always had a timetable — as soon the oil is gone, the troops will come home.

Bill Dwyer


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