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July 7, 2015

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Our kids pay when the rich don’t

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Lynn Warne is the president of the Nevada State Education Association.

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On Jan. 31, the Nevada State Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision and upheld the will of the people to move the Education Initiative to Carson City for the Legislature to consider. This is a victory for the people, and it brings us one step closer toward protecting our future and the future of our children by addressing the serious problem of inadequate K-12 funding in Nevada. As the court said, “The initiative’s primary purpose is clearly to fund education,” and the next step is for legislators to support this mandate and bring a dedicated, predictable source of revenue to education funded by a revenue source that doesn’t ask working Nevadans to pay more but asks corporations to pay their fair share.

The Education Initiative is a business margin tax that broadens the tax base; it helps the state rely less on one industry and creates a revenue stream that is resistant to economic volatility, but it also asks all large businesses to pay a small amount to invest in our kids’ education.

In his response to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s State of the State address, state Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis said he disagreed with the approach of cutting taxes on businesses while raising the sales tax on middle class families. This acknowledgement will come as great relief to Nevadans who have long been subjected to a state and local tax structure in Nevada more regressive than the United States as a whole, relying too heavily on both middle class and poor families.

Despite this imbalance and even with the voice of more than 100,000 Nevadans delivered to Carson City in the form of an initiative petition, it appears there is little appetite for revenue reform. Instead Nevadans are subjected to empty rhetoric such as: “We cannot tax our way out; we can only grow our way out.”

Such an approach is unrealistic based on our state’s current tax structure. In spite of our low tax burden on corporations, growth in our state has been slow and tax experts observe that growth does not pay for itself initially. Investment in education to support growth must be put in place before the growth itself.

When our children are forced to rely on budgetary horse-trading in the Legislature, education decisions are reduced to poor choices. In an interview with another newspaper, Assemblyman Randy Kirner said that decisions on education will boil down to “What can we afford?” NSEA is saying we can afford more and do better if corporations start paying their fair share. It’s not acceptable to force our communities to make a choice between all-day kindergarten or English-language learner fluency. Who will make the decision which of these much-needed programs takes priority? Perpetuating the status quo and a small-steps approach leaves too many of Nevada’s students behind unnecessarily.

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick said in opening the session that legislators should not apply nickel-sized solutions to dollar-sized problems. We agree with Speaker Kirkpatrick, but we should also steer clear of trying to create a revenue solution that is all things to all businesses.

Other states have attempted this approach, and it only served to create volatility; exactly the opposite of what is needed to provide the resources our children need to succeed.

Legislators have before them a dollar solution for a dollar problem brought forth by the people. Nevadans reject proposals which would increase sales taxes or ask too little from our business community.

Tax and education experts agree that Nevada should bolster its spending on education because it benefits our state, but only if we commit to a long-term strategy that helps all our children reach their potential and only if it calls on Nevada businesses to acknowledge we’re all in this together.

It’s time the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.

Lynn Warne is the president of the Nevada State Education Association, which is sponsoring the Education Initiative.

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  1. Better still than a margins tax on businesses to fund education is State tax credits for businesses who employ Nevadan students. All benefit.


  2. Our kids also pay when those who work for cash and don't declare income pay less than their share of Federal Income tax. These federal funds come back to fund our schools.

  3. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another State that has neither a personal income tax or a business income tax. Our taxation of business is mainly from the gaming tax, mostly generated by the activities of non-residents, and the mining tax which is so paltry that it should be called the "mining annoyance" instead of the mining tax.

  4. Thank you, Commenter Chuck333, who stated it well, "Nevada spends more per student than Arizona yet we rank very low in education. Why do you think that is. Probably has zero to do with the CCSD, or parents or teachers union right? Minings taxes should be raised. CCSD needs to get rid of all the administrative dead weight, which there's plenty, and teachers should be paid, not according to tenure but results. Added to this should be a system that doesn't allow kids that can't speak English into the schools until they can. This gives them a better chance and doesn't distract from the others."

    To IMPROVE our educational system, we must also have ENforcement teeth in the taxpayer funded, yearly administered, "PARENT/TEACHER/STUDENT INVOLVEMENT ACCORD"!

    In the 76th Nevada State Legislative Session, Lawmakers created laws that demanded tools to make teachers and administrators accountable and responsible via the new evaluation system. But they fell short by not addressing the primary reasons why schools are performing poorly: the students themselves, and their family support/parents/caregivers. Without them, there would be NO problem.

    It is past time for Nevada Lawmakers to take courage and tackle problems that have plagued this state for decades.

    The business margins tax is a tiny step in the right direction, but can NOT substitute the great need to change the Nevada Constitution's 100+years old taxation revenue laws, especially in respect to where MINING is paying a pittance for the precious minerals and metals it extracts and carries out of Nevada State. At the very least, MINING should pay an average of the taxes Mining pays to the other 49 states in the USA, to be FAIR.

    For Nevada to thrive, we must take proper care of its most valuable resource: its PEOPLE-children (future), workers (presently making Nevada productive), seniors (who create need for services, who are "sages" and "mentors" to those after them). Our great treasure is the People and all the potential Nevada possesses. Do good WITH these/them, and BY these/them, and Nevada will prosper.

    Blessings and Peace,

  5. MORE money does not mean better education. More money just hides the underlying problems: bad teachers, bad administrators, greedy unions.

  6. "Off the top of my head, I can't think of another State that has neither a personal income tax or a business income tax. " @ Jim Weber

    I believe Wyoming and South Dakota both rated more favorable for taxs than Nevada, which is third, have neither. Plus, and correct me if I'm wrong, both have lower sales tax rates.


  7. I'm surprised by chuck333's comment: "Added to this should be a system that doesn't allow kids that can't speak English into the schools until they can." Apparently, he doesn't understand that despite the CCSD having all but eliminated programs for ELL students, school is still the place where non-English speaking children learn English. In fact, for many kids, it's the ONLY place they speak English, as they most commonly use their native language at home. To suggest that children not be allowed to attend school until they learn English is a recipe for economic disaster, as these children will almost certainly never graduate from high school.

    Additional revenue earmarked for education is a must if we want to restore programs and teaching positions to help students succeed and eventually contribute to the economic livelihood of our state. Another must-do for the legislature is to scrap the antiquated "Nevada Plan" for distributing state funds to school districts. The plan may have been fine when it was created in 1967, when the population of Clark County was just over 200,000, but it's outdated now. Most of the state's revenue is generated in Clark County, and too much is redistributed to rural counties. Clark County's schools are being shortchanged.

  8. Well of course the Nevada Policy Research Institute has also criticized the tax, Harley. The tax is inconsistent with the plan you and your buddies over at NPRI have for diverting taxpayer dollars into the bank accounts of corporate educrats and their stockholders, with no guarantee the privatizing schools will yield results! The CCSD is already forking out $3.8 million each year to Edison Schools after renewing its contract with Edison in June 2012, despite Edison's failure to perform as promised. Please see Paul Takahashi's report in the Sun, June 22, 2012:

    You folks are quick to accuse the teachers' union of scamming the public, but in fact, that's exactly what you have on YOUR agenda!

  9. Carmine: Both Wyoming and South Dakota have lower sales tax rates than Nevada - but that's not an exclusive club - 39 other states are also lower. Nevada is fairly good on property taxes - "only" 15 states - NOT including Wyoming and South Dakota - are lower.

    Only Wyoming and South Dakota have an overall climate better for business than does Nevada. Why is it that Nevada is among the worst for corporate investment??? Perhaps those who place tax environment relatively low among the factors used by companies in determining where to invest actually have an argument - tax rates may actually be a low priority.

  10. It does NOT benefit anyone to pay incoherent "teachers" more to do less and less and less. Nevada already funds K-12 by $1,000 per student in EXCESS of Arizona--where they get graduates who can read and write.

  11. Regarding other states: most to all don't offer sanctuary to the illegals expelled from Arizona, Georgia.... We keep giving everything away without any increase in business, industry, prosperity. We're giving away our future and our economy. Expect more of the same. 50,000-plus illegal students in CCSD. Even at 25 per classroom (lower in K-6, higher in 7-12) that's 2,000 unneeded teachers. At roughly $100,000 each per year allowing something for the costs of administering each teacher that's $200,000,000 wasted in CCSD alone. Just think what K-12 could be without this. The short-term answer is that we "have to" K-12 illegal kids but we DON'T HAVE TO open our doors and welcome them in. We don't have to provide the endless social services that bring them here. We CAN do something about employers of illegals--more than 12% of employees in Nevada are illegal--just search this cite.

  12. "The short-term answer is that we "have to" K-12 illegal kids but we DON'T HAVE TO open our doors and welcome them in."

    Once again, Roberta, you prove yourself all show, no pony. the bottom line is SCHOOLS ARE REQUIRED TO OFFER EDUCATION TO ALL STUDENTS. End of discussion.

    If you are soooo up in arms about "Dem Illegal Brats Stealin' our stuff and doing all that Readin' and a Ritin'" then get off your booty, go to Washington D.C. and lobby for them to rewrite the law. because until you change Federal law, your daily rants just continue to prove to the world your ignorance on this matter....

    Allow me to point you towards a few facts:

  13. Patrick: Reading problem again? I suggested we discourage them moving into Nevada. I specifically said we "have to" k-12 illegal kids. I suspect you'd find lots of places in K-12 to dump an extra 200 million a year.

  14. Tnaker, CCSD recently told the Governor that CCSD has MORE THAN 50,000 English Language Learners. Even allowing for languages other than Spanish, that's more than 50,000. And, let's add in say ANOTHER 50,000 for the siblings who were younger when they arrived and can speak English as well as anything else so those illegal students are not officially ELL.

  15. The million LEGAL immigrants we take in each year must pass an ENGLISH TEST and a physical exam--to preclude contagious diseases and chronic conditions like dialysis at UMC costing us upwards of $120,000 a year each.

  16. You too Tanker, limited reading comprehension. If we send them away, the families, the kids won't be in our K-12.

  17. If you want to compare Nevada with Wyoming and SoDak then make sure to factor in taxes or lack thereof on mineral and energy production.

  18. Nothing draws the bigots out of the woodwork faster than an article about taxes.

  19. For too long Nevada has listened only to big money and lived with the consequences of those with the power of the purse.

    Business will spend millions of dollars on public relations campaigns against being taxed -- public relations campaigns to convince the public that schools are failing, teachers are failing, and students are not receiving anything from schools. I think it says a lot about big money motives - when they could have given those millions to students but chose instead to point the finger at women who teach people to read like we have done something wrong. Selfish. Greed.

    Let me say - public schools are worth the investment. 18,000 teachers and 300,000 kids go to schools and try every school day. While students may not be able to choose multiple choice answers on a test - that does NOT mean they are not learning or will fail life. Students are more than a score. Teachers are working. We are all doing our job.

    Enough is enough. There is money in this state. We need to stop the hoarding, hiding, and stashing by millionaires and billionaires that line their pockets with gold and dollars on the backs of labor using Nevada's resources.

    Real people are tired of the unproductive whiny rants from selfish haters. Our community needs to invest in the children and the people will be heard. Im sure that teally irks the paid corporate shills and the lobbyists who drown our media with anti-school, anti-teacher, and anti-tax propaganda. Our community deserves balance and fair treatment on this issue.

  20. Robert:

    Tell me, how are Wyoming and South Dakota doing economically compared to other States?

    Both are RED States, not Blue. ;-)

    Nevada is offcially purple I believe.


  21. I did not know this, no wonder they come from Mexico and live here. What a deal!

    >>Allow me to point you towards a few facts: