Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | 12:26 p.m.
On his first trip back to the Nevada Legislature since being elected to Congress, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford urged state lawmakers to better fund education and social services so Nevada can take full advantage of available federal money.
“One thing we can all agree on is that Nevada does not receive its fair share of federal funding,” Horsford said. “We are not doing enough to leverage the federal dollars offered to states. For decades, we have received around seventy cents for every dollar we send to Washington. No matter which way you slice it, Nevadans are losing out.
“There are two cyclical causes of this dilemma. First, we don’t pursue the grants we need. Second, we don’t invest enough in our schools and universities to qualify.”
Horsford urged Nevada lawmakers to beef up its grant procuring operations, hire experts and identify more opportunities to collect federal funds.
“But the bottom line is that Nevada is still a state that suffers from the chronic shortages in funding for schools and social services. We must develop a long-term, stable budget that funds our schools not 20 years from today, but now,” he told his former colleagues.
As state Senate Majority Leader for two legislative sessions, Horsford became known as a passionate advocate for more education funding. But he fell short of his goal of ushering through a broad-based business tax to provide that funding.
Horsford was elected to the newly create 4th Congressional District in November. He now represents constituents from North Las Vegas to Lyon County.
In his speech to the Legislature, Horsford said he would work for comprehensive immigration reform, expressing optimism that a gridlocked Congress could address the immigration problem even if it can’t fix the budget.
“I will fight for a pathway to citizenship: immigrant families in Nevada and across the United States should not be forced to live in the shadows any longer,” he said. “While I am optimistic about the prospect of fixing our broken immigration system, I am not saying there is an abundance of courage in Congress, either.”
Horsford said he will continue to fight the so-called sequester cuts— automatic spending cuts Congress implemented to break the stalemate over the debt ceiling.
“Look, I am not a defender of the federal government or every federal agency,” he said. “I am a defender of my constituents and the services they need to lead healthy and productive lives. Unfortunately many of these programs have been targeted for draconian cuts under the sequester and in the House Republican Budget, which I just voted against.”
Horsford also paid tribute to the military servicemen killed and injured in Hawthorne when a mortar shell accidentally exploded during a training exercise last month.