Posts Tagged ‘Bob Miller’

Barbara Vucanovich, First Woman From Nevada To Serve In Congress, Honored At Reno Dinner

By Sean Whaley | 9:20 pm August 18th, 2012

RENO – Friends, family and political colleagues gathered today to honor and pay tribute to the first woman to serve in Congress from Nevada, the now 91-year-old Barbara Vucanovich.

About 250 guests gathered at Rancharrah for the celebratory dinner, which not coincidentally raised a healthy sum for Republican candidates in the November general election.

Two successors in the 2nd Congressional District, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and current Rep. Mark Amodei, joined in honoring Vucanovich, who was working for then-U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt in 1982 when he urged her to run for the newly created seat.

Rep. Mark Amodei, Barbara Vucanovich and Sen. Dean Heller. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Vucanovich, 61 at the time, rose to the challenge and won the seat, serving for seven terms. She became good friends with President Ronald Reagan and other influential political leaders during her 14 years in office.

Heller, wearing one of Vucanovich’s old campaign buttons, said he first met her when he was visiting Washington, DC, more than 20 years ago. Heller called her office on the spur of the moment and Vucanovich offered to take him to lunch at the Congressional dining hall even though she did not know him.

“To this day, when people come out to Washington, DC, I take every opportunity, every chance that I can, to take them to the Congressional dining room, or the Senate’s dining room, and I tell them every time, the reason I’m doing this was because the first time I came to Washington, DC, Barbara Vucanovich took me to lunch,” he said.

Amodei, who took over representation of the district when Heller was appointed to the Senate in May 2011, said there are two remarkable facts about her service that stand out for him.

“One is, it was never about Barbara, which is a phenomenally rare thing in politics, and the other one was, Barbara Vucanovich served 14 years and came home, and that’s a rare thing that I think is really neat too -  one of the things I respect most about her,” he said.

Vucanovich took the lead on many issues affecting Nevada and helped line up support in the House of Representatives to create the Great Basin National Park in 1986; the only national park created in the contiguous United States during the Reagan administration. She was also instrumental in getting the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit repealed.

Reno Assemblyman Pat Hickey with Barbara Vucanovich. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

In an interview Friday, Vucanovich said she is dismayed at the sorry state of discourse and civility  in Congress, not to mention the inability of Republicans and Democrats to reach agreement on critical issues, including the budget deficit. But Vucanovich said she does not have a magic solution to change the political climate for the better.

“It’s kind of discouraging and it’s not good government,” she said.

Attitudes were different during her tenure, Vucanovich said.

“We would disagree in committee or disagree on various issues but when the day was over we patted each other on the shoulder and said, ‘nice day, how is your family.’ I know a lot of nice Democrats and we get along fine.”

“The president, of course, was Ronald Reagan, and although he had a Democratic Congress and so forth everybody liked him,” Vucanovich said. “And it was fine for me, he was there for six years so we were friends and I felt like it was very comfortable. And he was a friend with (House Speaker) Tip O’Neill. I mean they would have differences but then they would have a drink at night.”

Vucanovich has told her story in a new book, “Barbara F. Vucanovich – From Nevada To Congress, And Back Again.”

When she was elected, Vucanovich was one of only a handful of women serving in the House.

“It was different and there were very few women as I say, only 19 of us, and so we got to know each other,” she said. “A lot of us had differences of course, but we were always friendly to each other and it was a great experience.”

Vucanovich held many key roles during her tenure, including chairwoman of the very powerful Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction; only the second woman ever to chair an appropriations subcommittee at that time.

“If you are a woman running for office in Nevada, Barbara Vucanovich is the first endorsement you seek,” said Randi Thompson, a former legislative candidate.


Audio clips:

Former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich says her then-boss, Sen. Paul Laxalt, encouraged her to run for the seat:

081812Vucanovich1 :12 I did it.”

Vucanovich says she was of 19 women in the House:

081812Vucanovich2 :14 a great experience.”

Vucanovich says she was fortunate to serve during much of Ronald Reagan’s two terms:

081812Vucanovich3 :30 drink at night.”

Sen. Dean Heller says he first met Barbara Vucanovich more than 20 years ago in Washington, DC:

081812Heller :26 me to lunch.”

Rep. Mark Amodei says Vucanovich’s career in Congress was never about her but about her constituents:

081812Amodei :15 most about her.”




Clark and Washoe County School Districts Could Increase Class Sizes By Five Students Per Class

By Andrew Doughman | 10:49 am March 24th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s two largest school districts could increase classes sizes by five students during the upcoming school year.

Superintendents from Clark and Washoe Counties said they would put more children in classrooms to address Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget cuts.

Those budget cuts could result in hundreds of school district positions eliminated in Washoe County and 2,486 positions in Clark County.

The class-size increases were part of budget plans superintendents presented to a legislative committee this morning.

“That’s an alarming cumulative impact put together,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford. “… It really is significant.”

In Clark County, Superintendent Dwight Jones said he plans to increase class sizes by up to seven students for higher grades and by three students at the lower grades.

He said this would mean a jump from 18 students per class to 21 students per class for first-graders. For grades six through 12, the average class size could increase from 32 students per class to 39 students per class.

Jones estimated that this shift would save the district $114 million, part of a total budget reduction of $411 million.

In Washoe County, Morrison said he plans to increase class sizes by five to meet the governor’s proposed cuts. This would save the district about $30 million.

He said putting one more student in each class saves the school district $6 million.

Increasing class sizes would also mean jobs for teachers would go away. More students would be in fewer classes, meaning the district would need fewer teachers as well.

Morrison said he is having a difficult time accommodating the budget cuts.

“They’re going to stymie efforts to build capacity for our teachers to deliver the important instruction that they do on a day to day basis,” he said.

Assembly Democrats today argued that the governor’s proposed cuts to K-12 are $1.1 billion. They posted to their website an interpretation of those cuts that includes about $600 million that school districts must negotiate with their employees.

The level of actual cuts could change depending on the results of those negotiations.

The governor has earlier said the cuts would amount to about $625 million.

The announcement also comes as former governor Bob Miller asked the Legislature to not increase class sizes in a letter published in today’s Las Vegas Sun.

Miller was the architect of the class-size reduction program when he was governor.



Former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller Says Taxes Will Be Part Of State Budget Solution In 2011

By Sean Whaley | 6:51 am August 31st, 2010

Former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller said Monday it is unrealistic for both major party candidates for governor to say they won’t raise taxes in the upcoming 2011 session.

Miller, a Democrat who served 10 years as the chief executive, said he, along with former Democrat Gov. Richard Bryan and the late Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, told a group of Reno business leaders earlier this year that new tax revenues will be an inevitable part of any budget balancing plan next year.

“It’s not possible in the next biennium to balance a budget without some additional revenues, that’s just going to happen,” he said.

Miller made his comments in an interview on Face To Face with Jon Ralston, who also had as a guest former GOP Gov. Robert List.

The state faces an estimated $3 billion shortfall in the amount of revenue expected to be required to fund government services and public education in the next two years, equal to 45 percent of the total general fund budget.

But both Democrat Rory Reid and Republican Brian Sandoval have said they won’t raise taxes to balance the budget if elected governor.

Reid last week presented a plan showing how he would find $2.5 billion in cuts and savings, although some of his numbers have been questioned. Sandoval has not yet presented a plan on how to balance the state budget without a tax increase.

Miller noted that current Senate leadership of both parties has said tax increases are likely next session.

He called it “wishful thinking” on the part of the candidates to say taxes won’t have to be a part of the budget solution.

Miller said there is also some political posturing because in an election campaign, “you don’t want to be the person out there indicating the bad news.”

“But the reality is it is not going to work to do it any other way,” he said.

Both Miller and List, commenting on the first debate between Sandoval and Reid on Sunday in Las Vegas on education issues, said they saw no surprises in the hour-long discussion.

Reid, trailing significantly in the polls, went on the attack, and Sandoval stayed on message trying not to lose any ground with voters.

List said since both candidates are talking about reform and accountability for public education, there may be an opportunity next session to see some meaningful changes.

The wildcard has always been the public employee unions, with Democrats generally supporting their position, he said.

Reid has broken with that long-time support to a small degree, suggesting there may be an opportunity for some change in 2011, List said.

But List said he believes it will be very difficult for Reid to come out on top on election day Nov. 2.


Audio clips:

Former Gov. Bob Miller said tax increases in 2011 are inevitable:

083010Miller1 :10 going to happen.”

Miller says not raising issue of taxes partly wishful thinking on part of Reid and Sandoval:

083010Miller2 :15 any other way.”