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July 7, 2015

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Sun Editorial:

Leadership needed

Governor needs to lead to make sure key issues are addressed

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State Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis last week pulled a tax proposal that would have raised money for education. In an emotional speech, Denis said the plan didn’t have the support to pass.

“We are failing our children, kicking the can down the road,” the Democrat said. “Once again, we have put our partisanship over policies that can help today.”

When Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson took the floor, he expressed his affection for Denis but then criticized him and his party for a lack of leadership.

“People outside this building and throughout this state know who has led and who hasn’t led,” he said. “This is not leadership. This is making yourself feel better.”

That set off a back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans about leadership and who’s really to blame for the lack of movement on key issues such as taxes and education. And then the floor session ended.

It was a picture of what has happened in Carson City this year on big issues — nothing.

As Anjeanette Damon and Andrew Doughman reported in the Sun, Nevada saw $700 million in education cuts through the recession. Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget puts back $120 million.

Democrats have called for more spending to restore funding, but to do that, they would have to raise revenue. Thus the Democrats’ plan. But Sandoval has pledged to veto any new tax and has waged a campaign calling for improving education without tax increases.

Sandoval’s opposition has made it more difficult to garner bipartisan support in the Legislature for a tax plan, not that there has been much support to begin with. The tax proposals the Democrats floated in the Legislature this year were blocked by the Republicans, and the Republican plans were blocked by the Democrats. Cue the finger pointing.

The Democrats have the majority in both the Assembly and the Senate, but it takes two-thirds to pass a tax plan. Thus, the Republican minority has control. And when no one can compromise, the result is political inertia.

So is there a lack of leadership? Obviously, yes.

Democrats and Republicans can say they tried, and some lawmakers truly did try to find ways to make things happen. But the outcome speaks to what happened — there haven’t been enough people willing to take the political risks or cut the needed deals. Thus, nothing happened, and once again, Nevadans get the same results.

What’s more troubling is that Nevadans have been so complacent about this and haven’t been willing to hold leaders accountable for their lack of action. Clark County has nearly three-quarters of the state’s population, yet it doesn’t see a proportional amount of government spending; power brokers have long shuttled money away to the north. We’re surprised we don’t see more Southern Nevadans outraged over such inequity. They should be outraged, and they should be pushing elected leaders to act.

Unfortunately, too many people accept the status quo and the rhetoric that supports it, and Nevada suffers with low-performing schools and paltry services that don’t help the people or the economy.

As we have noted before, Southern Nevada is the engine that fuels the state, yet it has been drained. The state can’t wait for another two years to prime the engine.

At this point, the governor needs to step in and provide the leadership needed to make a real impact this session. There’s no doubt the state’s antiquated tax system is broken and inequitable. It’s past time to fix it and give the state’s education system the real boost it needs, not the token offers that he has put forth. And, it shouldn’t be hard to do — the state has years of studies to refer to.

To do that, he’ll have to put down the stale rhetoric about no new taxes and potential harm a tax might do to the economy. Remember the reviled tax increase in 2003, the largest in state history at that time? It didn’t hurt the economy. Instead, the economy boomed.

And if Sandoval wants to win the hearts of voters in Southern Nevada, he needs to fix the inequities in the unconscionable way state and federal money is distributed.

Those types of actions may not make him or lawmakers popular with those who love the status quo, but it will make them heroes in the minds of real Nevadans who want to see a better future for our children.

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  1. Truly, Lawmakers must want us screaming in their ears this 77th Nevada State Legislative Session. Once again, Tanker1975 nailed it with, "There are two things that make this session exactly the same as any other session.

    Lots of talk, and little action.

    A definite lack of courage and leadership to solve the major problems of Nevada.

    The members of the Legislature should hang their heads in shame. If I were grading their performance I would give an F-.

    The legislature has failed in funding education.

    The legislature has failed in tax reform.

    The legislature has failed to enact meaningful reform in education.

    The legislature has failed in leadership.


    Commenter Tanker1975 posted how they voted:
    "What are your thoughts on the Clark County legislators who voted against SJR 15.

    There were 15 votes in the Assembly against the SJR 15 which removes the Constitutional Protection for mining.

    This is a list of the legislators who voted against SJR 15.

    Paul Anderson (R) District 13 CLARK COUNTY

    Wesley Duncan (R) District 37 CLARK COUNTY

    John Ellison (R) District 33 Elko, Eureka, Lincoln,

    White Pine County

    Michele Fiore (R) District 4 CLARK COUNTY

    Tom Grady (R) District 38 Churchill Lyon

    John Hambrick (R) District 2 CLARK COUNTY

    Ira Hansen (R) District 32 Esmerlada, Humbolt, Lander, Nye
    Mineral, Pershing, Washoe

    Crescent Hardy (R) District 19 CLARK COUNTY

    Pat Hickey (R) District 25 Washoe

    Randy Kirner (R) District Washoe

    Peter Livermore (R) District 40 Carson City, Washoe

    James Oscarson (R) District 36 CLARK COUNTY, Lincoln, Nye

    Lynn Stewart (R) District 22 CLARK COUNTY

    Jim Wheeler (R) District 39 Douglas, Lyon, Storey

    Melissa Woodbury (R) District 23 CLARK COUNTY

    I would ask why those legislators who represent Clark County voted against SJR 15."
    Hope Nevada Lawmakers do MUCH better than all this in the remaining days left this session.
    Blessings and Peace,

  2. There is no reason for anyone to start a technology business in Nevada. Their children will be doomed to Dancing with the Cars (becoming Valets), baking pies or barking at the nighttime skies.

    Little or no retirement plans, continual job loss and upheaval, savings being used to stay alive and under a warm roof during unemployment periods. Be thankful for the privilege of selling guns to unknowns who come from California by the droves to evade the background checks in their own State.

    Work until a lump is found in your gut, then find religion and give up the smut. Buy a white granite stone with the inscription "Gone but not forgotten" and for an extra $100 they will put your name and birthdate below the caption; but that's where it ends because you can't afford the water bill to keep the grass green in your eternal sky.

    Hella Nation, Hella State, helluvan existence until it ends, Werewolves of London again.

  3. Part 1 of 2
    It appears that the only viable career in the State of Nevada, is that of one being a career politician.

    Thanks to an unchecked overpopulation of illegal immigrants, who occupy all sectors of this state (as well as throughout the continental U.S.A. now), from jobs, to medical care, to adversely impacting education, and furthermore are silent about government, except on issues of immigration, we have a frustrated citizenry of legal Americans and Nevadans who feel that they are no longer heard in government, and that they cannot make a difference. I hear it from the People, each and every day, and it truly saddens me. In despair, they throw up their hands and resign themselves to an uncertain future that they have little to no control over.

    In the name of money, Nevada Governor Sandoval has begun to tear apart Nevada's educational house, plank by plank, nail by nail. The incomes of hard working, dedicated employees are so stagnant and unliveable, that it has become intolerable for them to stay. Living costs have gone up, all the while employee incomes remain unchanged and stagnant. They have no spare change to spend to help local economies. All the while, favored industries native to Nevada contine to enjoy record profits, expansion to outside of Nevada, and immunity to increased taxation! So how is "No new taxes" working out for the little guy citizen of Nevada, pray tell? WHO benefits?

    "But Sandoval has pledged to veto any new tax and has waged a campaign calling for improving education without tax increases." Enter Teach for America, or TFA and Governor Sandoval's courting the loyalty of current illegal immigrants, and willingness to improve THEIR lives with throwing money into education's ELL programs. WHO benefits?

    While Governor Sandoval's agenda pushes out fine, dedicated, effective teachers because he believes that they cost too much (especially when these teachers have worked DECADES, have their families here, contribute to local economies, and pay into the property tax revenue system), replacing them with Teach for America recruits, who are young, recent college graduates, who are NOT education majors, nor is it their passion to teach, only to have a quick job (2-3 years) while finding their "real" niche in the business world per their college degree, pad their resumes, and build their personal networks. If you research TFA's Gary Rubenstein's blog, it will provide you with countless personal accounts of other TFA teachers on both sides of the fence, and YOU can draw your own conclusions about TFA.

    Food for thought.
    Blessings and Peace,