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May 6, 2015

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j. patrick coolican:

Coolican: Young protesters, worried about future, hardly ‘spoiled brats’

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

Traveling overnight Sunday with hundreds of students on their way to the state capital to protest budget cuts, I would occasionally awaken and see, through the rain, the lights of the caravan of buses.

It was hard not to feel a bit inspired by the students’ passion for their education — a passion that is so lacking in other quarters of the state, where casual contempt for teachers and college professors and students has become like a strange badge of honor.

“Spoiled brats,” was a term thrown around on Twitter Monday by Republican operative Robert Uithoven.

No doubt there are some of those in our higher education system, but I doubt they were among the more than 1,000 students demonstrating against Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed 17 percent cut to higher education.

What seems lost on the haters is, given that just 14 percent of Nevadans possess a bachelor’s degree, it stands to reason that many of our university students are the first in their families to attend college. Spoiled brats? Am I on Mars?

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, a North Las Vegas Democrat, asked students testifying before a joint budget committee meeting Monday how many hold down jobs in addition to attending school. Nearly all of them raised their hands.

America Acevedo — no kidding, her name — is an aspiring doctor studying neuroscience. She recalled her first stirrings of ambition: She was 14 and at a welfare office with her mother, who apologized to her for dragging her there. Acevedo, a UNR student, told legislators on Monday that at that moment she decided she was going to college, and that someday she would support her mother. She works three jobs to pay for school and help out at home, she says. This is the type of person even Republicans once applauded, but now apparently merely attending a state university automatically qualifies you for derision.

UNLV students Tom Stewart, Andrew Spivak and Sterling Kavitky were on my bus, and each worries that a degree from UNLV is not only becoming more expensive — tuition could rise as much as 12 percent per year during each of the next two years — but also sort of worthless.

Spivak says he imagines interviewing for a job and being laughed at “because the university went bankrupt,” referring to the strong possibility of “financial exigency,” which is the university equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

By late Monday afternoon, the students were back on the buses, done chanting and cheering for now.

Will it make any difference?

“Probably not,” a prominent lobbyist said to me.

They created some excitement, but off they went, and once again, lobbyists for the state’s big moneyed interests outnumbered citizens and legislators by an order of magnitude.

(Imagine how different things would be if the state capital weren’t hundreds of miles from where 75 percent of the state resides, and these students could camp out every day at the Legislature.)

Democrats, one operative told me, are committed to doing things differently this time — to mobilizing their grass roots rather than playing the insider ballgame. They plan two more large demonstrations, and a source close to Horsford called Monday “a huge turning point” and said they now felt emboldened to talk about taxes. Excuse me, revenue.

Up until now, Democrats, just like two years ago, have whispered about taxes to pay for services like higher education as if it were a shameful family secret.

Consider the best sign of the day, which may not have been true during our construction and tourism booms, but these days is looking more true all the time:

“Uneducated equals unemployed.”

Coolican’s column appears every Tuesday and Friday.

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  1. Why on earth do the Democrats let Republicans get away with being so two-faced about taxes? The Republicans tried to kill Obama'a payroll tax cut last March, then sucessfully killed it when he wanted to extend it in December. I own a small business and will end up saving about $1,400 on last years tax cut, and I estimate I would have saved about 1,000 to 1,400 dollars if they had passed it for this year. Even if they doubled the Nevada Business Tax, I would only pay a small amount compared to what I lost when the Republicans stopped Obama from cutting payroll taxes.

    Do the Democrats understand that they actually did something real good for business people, and that the Republicans were against it?

  2. "Spoiled Brats"!!!!What else would you expect from "Republican operatives" who favor tax cuts for millionaires and pay cuts for teachers????

  3. "instead of wasting the trip to middle of media no where carson city, they should have planned their protest in front of the bellagio,"

    Actually, dipstick, they already did that earlier this month. It got some media, but the problem is that legislators don't really pay attention unless they can see and feel it themselves. That's why what happened yesterday was so critical. If over 1,000 students could brave 8 hours of driving through the rain and snow to make a statement where Nevada's seat of power is, then legislators have to pay attention.

  4. No "spoiled brats",eh Coolican? Well, how about "entitlement-dependent users". Is that more descriptive?

    Where is it written that a kid has a right to a college education funded by his neighbor? This mob of "takers" think they have that right.

  5. To atdleft: Did the kids pay for the costs of the caravan? If not, who funded it?

    The paragraph in parenthesis telling about where these kids live is all we need to know. We may as well cede Clark County to California so Nevada can once again be the strong conservative state it used to be. My beloved Las Vegas used to be, too, before it got Californicated. Thank Goodness Carson City is not anywhere near the liberal stronghold of Clark County!

  6. Where do you get off thinking that taxes fund 100% of a kids college education? That is a ridiculous misrepresentation Mr. Hopkins.

  7. Boys and Girls it is time to grow up. Mommy and Daddy have maxed out their credit cards and have no more money.

    Take note of this mornings RJ Front page article 3-22-11. New home builders can't get appraisals high enough to sell their homes. (neither can your parents) Without those transactions your government subsidized education can't be paid for.

    Go protest in front of the appraisers office and demand higher appraisals. That will be more productive.

  8. Last night on Twitter Uithoven apologized, calling his comment "over the top." Kudos. What matters though is that in it's in all our best interests -- economically, socially, etc. -- to have a robust higher education system. Does anyone think North Carolina regrets the huge infusion of money they've put into higher education, which has helped create the Research Triangle Park? Or that Virginia regrets its massive investment in higher education? Don't think so.

  9. Rickkorbel, when Mommy and Daddy Mining are actually paying real taxes, then we can talk about whether the credit cards are maxed out. Until then, try checking this out:

  10. The whole argument as to whether students are spoiled or not is just plain dumb. The real argument is about funding our schools by the state budget. Right now the state hasn't got the funds to continue business as usual. The Governor refuses to approve any new taxes or tax increases so unless the legislature can pass any new taxes or increases with a veto proof majority, the subject is really mute. The schools need to build their budgets accordingly.

  11. The education haters are out in force on "Sun" posts. And they always argue against public education as "entitlement" or call students and their parents who advocate a strong educational system, K-12 and higher education, "spoiled" in some way. They believe in their arguments also based on what has become a mass delusion of "free market" economics.

    These arguments are fallacious. Education is an investment. Every student who earns a higher degree and stays in Nevada contributes an additional 1.5 million dollars to the economy above that of a non-degree earner; and by latest survey (2007), 61% of NSHE graduates live and work in our state. (Or at least they intended to stay here until the Great Recession brought on by unregulated bankers and quasi-criminal Wall Street traders busted the world economy).

    Let's never forget that it is the unregulated bankers and the selfish greed of Wall Street that got us into this mess in the first place; let's never forget that the "no new taxes" and "cut taxes for the rich" crowd has had its way for the last decade and more; let's never stop raising our voices to protest how the "no new taxes" crowd are now aiming to punish the wrong people for the crimes of others and for their own failed policies.

    It is in the best interests of all in our state to invest in education. Especially now, when the education system can go a long way toward keeping unemployed young people (through no fault of their own) busy doing something productive, bettering themselves, and improving all our chances for a prosperous future.

  12. Education supporters from all across Nevada went to Carson City to speak and interact with elected officials and to have those officials pay more attention to Nevada's students. March 21st was about breaking down the barriers that exist and opening lines of communication. However, the students' trip to the Capital was about more than just one sided communication.

    Nevadans are hungry for a particular kind of conversation that is serious and authentic, involves diverse views, but is free of manipulation and "spin." Most citizens of Nevadans want discussions that are open-ended in the sense that there is real exploration of all the possible solutions to our problems. There are real solutions to the problems Nevada faces if our politicians have the courage to openly discuss them.

    Most state representatives understood our desire for open discussion and stated that they too wanted to have open discussions about how to solve the state's issues. The one glaring exception to this wide spread willingness to openly deliberate all possible solution was Governor Sandoval who once again said that he would not even consider solutions that raised revenue.
    Governor Sandoval's unwillingness to explore all solutions to the state's budget will surely come back to haunt him in the coming months.

  13. Patrick
    Of course the "Spoiled Brat" Republican operative had to apologize for his twitter comments. You exposed him for what he and the republicans are about.
    good article!!!

  14. This recession AND the one before it AND the one before that one were ALL CAUSED BY GREED in the banking and corporate systems.

    The WEALTHY have learned that by creating a recession, all the gains of the middle class can be clawed back into their coffers. Recessions allow the 'investors' who got tax breaks to buy up the bankrupt homes and change the American dream into an Investor's dream.

    America is rapidly becoming an "Investor's Dream" because investor (i.e. business & corporate) taxes are reduced to nothing with tax loopholes, tax shelters and tax dodges. Only corporations have high paid tax lawyers and access to business deductions so they can be 'ALWAYS BROKE'.

    Recessions today are caused ENTIRELY by the wealthy financiers to buy up America when the economy crashes and destroy education to produce INEXPENSIVE SOLDIERS and even cheaper ribbon for their Coffins.

  15. Parents broke? How about the Newmont Carlin mine?
    $365 million worth of gold mined, NOT ONE CENT paid in taxes! Deductions...all deductions.

    Brian Sandoval states in the "Las Vegas Gleaner" that "They pay their fair share".

    Fair Share means ZERO TAXES FOR MINING, ZERO TAXES FOR BUSINESS because "That's the law". None of us get to deduct our expenses driving to work but a mine does. That's RICH MANS LAW, that's what Republicans bring to America to DESTROY the Government.

  16. A free ride on the other students dime to push more funding on higher education. $15,000 wasted. The funding only goes to the faculty and the staff - who are paid enough by the way. The grandiose plans that have been proposed are a waste of time and money. The money does not make higher education cheaper and the school will lie about prospects for people in various majors. The colleges will have the kids shoulder enormous debt that they might even pay off. The public school system does not educate students to be ready for college or for much else. Until we turn Public schools around and they actually start educating, funding for colleges should be cut and entrance tests used to measure the likelyhood of success in college. Honesty by the colleges would be a refreshing change.