Monday, May 4, 2009 | 11:37 p.m.
Representatives from labor, education and senior groups, among others, sent out an SOS for concerned citizens to rally against proposed budget cuts Monday evening in the Clark County Commission chambers.
Thirteen groups, including the Nevada Parent Teacher Association, Nevada AFL-CIO and Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans formed the Save Our State Coalition to speak out against proposed cuts in education, health care, senior support programs and other areas that they say would create more problems than they would fix.
Speaking at a rally that drew more than 100 people, organizers called on all Nevadans to contact their state legislators and tell them to find another way to meet the state's budget shortfall.
"You are the vanguard of our rallying cry to the state, which is that we have to find a way to maintain basic services," Nevada PTA President-Elect Alison Turner told the crowd.
Though attendance at the rally was relatively light, Turner said she hoped each person in the audience would talk to friends, family and co-workers to begin a grassroots effort.
The group didn't advocate a specific alternative -- Turner said she's not allowed to do so in her capacity with the PTA -- but said Gov. Jim Gibbons and the state Legislature need to look around and find other sources of revenue.
"All we're saying is that when the state's revenue has declined by 45 percent, you need to look at something else," she said.
Gibbons spokesman Daniel Burns said the governor remains convinced that raising taxes at this time would only hurt the prospects of recovery.
"I'm surprised that unions, which represent working men and women in this state, would support higher taxes, which would only hurt the working men and women of this state," he said.
Autum Tampa, a permanent substitute teacher with the Clark County School District, attended the rally to protest proposed education cuts. Earlier Monday, she found out that several workers in her position will be laid off this week.
Though her employment situation has her on pins and needles, Tampa said she was hopeful after attending the rally.
"I think that we can make a difference," she said. "I think that if more people get vocal, the legislators will have to stop and say, "We have to do something."
Raushanah Abdullah, a registered nurse at Valley Hospital and a member of the executive Board of Service Employees International Union, Nevada, said the Legislature needs to look at taxes on business, tourism and other sources as part of the solution.
Many of her patients, Abdullah said, already have to decide between buying medicine and buying food. Further cuts to Medicare and other health programs that offer help with medication and preventative care would be disastrous in the long run, she said.
"We can't do this," she said. "We're going to pay for this in the long run, because it increases the length of stay in the hospital for our patients when they don't have preventative care. We have to maintain preventive care."