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Our neighbor has worse problems

Nevada Appeal editorial board

When you think things are looking pretty bleak, it can be a comfort to look over at a neighbor who is going through even harder times.

For example, from the top of the Sierra Nevada, we can almost see Sacramento. And that makes us feel a bit better about the financial crisis facing Nevada state government in Carson City.

In Nevada, the projected deficit of $800 million or $1.2 billion — or whatever the estimate is today — pales in comparison to California’s red ink, which is put at somewhere between $26 billion and $34 billion.

Obviously, California has a much larger tax base than Nevada. But the deficit estimate there represents about a third of a year’s budget, while the Nevada shortfall is roughly a quarter of a two-year budget.

Neither picture is pretty. But we’ll take ours over theirs any day.

Consider, too, some of the fixes California Gov. Gray Davis has proposed to bring his budget into balance:

— Raising the state income tax to 10 percent on incomes above $136,000 and 11 percent for incomes above $272,000.

— Raising state sales tax by a cent to 8.25 percent.

— Adding $1.10 to the tax on a pack of cigarettes.

— Starting a tax on Indian casinos.

— Raising fees on such activities as phone calls, community college classes, hunting and library books.

We’ll find out Monday exactly what Gov. Kenny Guinn has in mind for balancing Nevada’s budget, but we’ve got a pretty good idea now.

An increase in “sin” taxes on items like cigarettes (perhaps 35 cents a pack) and alcohol, a small property tax increase, taxes on some amusements, a higher business license fee and — the big one — a .025 percent tax on gross business receipts.

No matter how you look at it, Nevada maintains low taxes on its residents and its corporations. That’s what makes it attractive to business and able to rebound from tough times.

From where we sit, it’s a relatively attractive view.