Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013 | 2:04 a.m.
Kirkpatrick's top three issues
3. Serious discussion of how our state operates, including our revenue structure
The Sun's opinion page provides a wide range of opinion about the start of the 2013 Legislature.
From the Sun:
The Sun's editorial Break the status quo.
Brian Greenspun's "Where I Stand" column.
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Have your own opinion?
Write a letter to the editor.
The most important thing the Legislature can do this year is to work together — truly work together — to rebuild our state’s economy. We took steps last session to begin this task, but there is much more to be done.
We must continue to work together to get Nevadans back to work and bring new industries to our state. We must make a real investment in education so we can offer the workforce and quality schools that these new businesses need. We need to re-examine the way our state operates — specifically the way we raise revenue to make our tax structure more stable, fairer and more reflective of today’s economy and our state’s needs. We need to set budget priorities and require greater accountability of our state government.
We will soon celebrate 150 years since the birth of our state. We have much to be proud of in our storied past, and this session will give us the ability to ask what we want the future of our state to look like. Will we take bold steps to move our state forward to a brighter future, or will we postpone action and leave the toughest problems for others to solve in the future?
We have learned from this recession that we can no longer depend on a single industry to fuel our economy. The volatility of our tax structure has resulted in deep cuts to essential state services, including education. We need to do things differently.
Job creation must continue to be a priority. Legislative Democrats have proposed a five-point jobs plan that includes giving preference to companies that hire locally and buy local products to help get Nevadans back to work; too many jobs funded by taxpayer dollars are still going to out-of-state workers. We’re also proposing measures to streamline permitting processes to get new businesses up and running faster and measures to better train our workforce to meet the needs of new, high-tech industries.
The most important step we can take to build a better Nevada is to make a real investment in education — kindergarten through our colleges and universities. We will not be able to attract to our state the businesses we want if we continue to rank at the bottom of the nation in every education category. We have made deep cuts in education funding over the past few years — asking teachers, parents and students to accomplish more with less. We then question why we have low graduation rates and students who are not prepared for today’s workforce. To improve our graduation rate and student achievement, we must reduce the size of our classes so students can get the attention they need to learn. We must end social promotion by giving our younger students the strong educational foundation they need, through early childhood education and full-day kindergarten. We need to provide our schools the resources they need to help every child succeed, including our English language learners.
Finally, we need to have a meaningful discussion of our revenue structure, beginning the first week of the session. How do we raise the revenue to truly meet our state’s needs, ensuring fairness, stability, protection of middle-class taxpayers and small businesses, and future economic prosperity and growth? This is not an easy discussion, but it is long overdue.
We have much to do in the next 120 days. I approach this session, however, with optimism that by working together, we can take significant, bold steps toward a brighter future for our state.
Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-Las Vegas, is the speaker-elect of the Assembly.