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May 3, 2015

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State teachers union bullish on tax plan as Supreme Court takes up case

Despite the anti-tax votes in Tuesday's election, the state teachers union is optimistic the 2013 Legislature will approve its plan for a business tax to support public schools.

It has more than 100,000 signatures of voters on its initiative petition and they will be presented Tuesday to the counties for verification of the names, says Nick Di Archangel, director of communications for the Nevada State Education Association.

Di Archangel says he thinks the petition has a good chance of gaining legislative approval.

The law requires 72,352 signatures on the initiative to be filed by the Tuesday deadline. And there must be 18,008 signatures in each of the four congressional districts.

At the same time, the Nevada Supreme Court has decided to speed up an appeal by the union over a ruling by a lower court that the petition is invalid.

The Supreme Court Wednesday filed an order that it will hear oral arguments on the first available date and all seven justices will be sitting on the case. The court said it will not be necessary for the union and its opponent, Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, to file briefs, a normal procedure.

The court, in expediting the process, will examine the record in the case before Carson City District Judge James Wilson, who ruled the petition was faulty, misleading and could not be presented to the Legislature.

The initiative would impose a 2 percent margins tax on businesses with more than an annual income of $1 million. It is expected to raise $800 million a year to go toward funding the public schools.

The teachers union lost a key legislative ally with the defeat of Sheila Leslie in her run for the Senate in Washoe County. Leslie, who served in both the Assembly and Senate, supported the tax plan.

Gary Peck, executive director of the teachers union, said Leslie will be missed but this is not an issue for a single legislator.

Voters in Clark County rejected by a 66-34 percent margin a plan to raise the property tax to repair and build new schools. And tax increase initiatives in several other counties were voted down in the Tuesday election.

Peck says the union's tax plan is different from those on the ballots and has "substantially more than 100,000 signatures showing the breadth and depth of public support."

If the Supreme Court rules that the Education Initiative petition is valid it will be presented to the Legislature, which has 40 days to act on it. Peck said his association is talking to lawmakers and he is "optimistic we will gather the support needed."

If it fails to pass in the Legislature, it will go on the 2014 election ballot, and Peck says he is "very confident of public support."

Gov. Brian Sandoval and a number of legislators say funding education is a top priority, but preliminary figures show that while the economy is slowly recovering, there is not enough tax revenue for a major allocation to education.

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  1. Teachers and administrators can stop their sales jobs on the voters. CCSD needs to get down to educating our kids to read and write. We need many more graduates at $1,000 per student, per year less, like Arizona--but Arizona gets graduates. $1,000 per kid times 330,000 students is $330,000,000 or 330 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR WASTED. If they're so smart, why can't they figure out cost efficient means?

  2. Any tax plan needs careful examination and weighing before voting on the issue. The little guy American and Nevadan has been suffering from the economic disaster of 2008, still trying to recover under uncertain times and shifting political alliances. As a citizen, taxpayer, voter, AND teacher, I am extremely cautious about any tax bill. Please don't assume that I am in "lock-step" favor of any or all proposed educational tax plans, and automatically support them just because education is associated with them.

    In the last 20 or so years, Nevada, California, and Arizona have experienced tremedous growth, even USsustainable growth, at that. Runaway building without regard to sustainable infrastructure, poor, even corrupt planning by those on the top, as County Commissioners, have left the taxpayers homeless, underemployed, and holding the financial liability bag. In some respects, I would have to agree with certain Commenters here about the irresponsible spending that has gone on, and bad thinking that supported it.

    We are entering a new age of "accountability" that includes everyone, because all factors are related to the other. The ONE FACTOR that still seems to be neglected, is the one of parent accountability. How can the public, school, teacher expect a child to become proficient unless the child practices at home? How many parents truly supervise and or support (as getting their child to the library or buy their child flashcards, dictionary, even a watch) their child at home? Public schools MUST take any child that walks through the door, they cannot turn away children of low IQ, Special Needs, low income, dysfunctional families. Who picks up the slack when our public educational system has such children? The educational family at the school where these children are at!

    How many readers, or Commenters, for that matter, ever visit their neighborhood school and volunteer some time? Yet, countless, thousands of teachers in Clark County, even in Nevada state, donate hundreds of hours yearly to their schools. Ask any of them, and them will say, "That there are not enough hours in the day," to do all that really needs be done. Most of these same teachers spend beyond the allowable tax deduction for educational materials yearly, so that instruction will go seamlessly and effectively.

    Part 1 of 2
    Blessings and Peace,

  3. As a society, we say, "It takes a village to raise a child." Often we hear that, "Time is money." When the members within the "village" are not present in a child's life, then responsibility falls upon those who directly interact with that child. Since the economic disaster of 2008, people have been having to do with less. The needs of children, our public school students, doesn't change however. These children still require a functional home that addresses food, clothing, shelter, as well as parental support for a child to practice learned skills in school in the form of schoolwork/homework. Very few children anymore, have someone to help them with with practicing with flashcards, or take them to the public library, or volunteer in their classroom or school. This lack gets made up for in the form of after-school tutoring (which has been reduced throughout the county).

    The Educational Involvement Accord needs enforcement teeth. When the student and their parent/guardian/caregiver are falling short, there currently is no means to enforce this document. Sure, you can make schools and their employees responsible for their part, but currently there is ZERO consequence for those who are students or the responsible home adult of a student. That needs to be fixed.

    Personally, I rather see a state-wide temporary tax on taxable consumer products to address the NEEDS of our public school system. If citizens can not or will not participate in their neighborhood community, including the schools there, then help that would be volunteered can be paid for via tax sponsored positions. Schools need community involvement on many levels to keep things in balance. Expecting educators to keep paying out of their own pockets and working hundreds of unpaid hours towards planning, training, and implementation for effective classrooms, is as bad as launching another property tax or business tax for education. Let's make it fair and place a temporary tax on consumeable items. Thank you.

    Blessings and Peace,