Posts Tagged ‘education’

Obama Talks About Commitment To Education, Keeping America Competitive, In Reno Campaign Stop

By Sean Whaley | 7:26 pm August 21st, 2012

RENOPresident Obama talked about his ongoing commitment to education in a visit to this battleground state today, his first official campaign event of the year in Northern Nevada but his third visit to the area in just the past few months.

Obama’s campaign stop, to be followed by another event tomorrow in Las Vegas, comes to the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12 percent.

President Obama speaks in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

“You’re education is not just important to you, it’s important to America’s success,” he told a cheering crowd of 1,000 supporters in the student union at the Truckee Meadows Community College. “When we invest in your future we’re investing in America’s future. The fact is that, countries that out-educate us today they’ll out-compete us tomorrow. We cannot afford to lose that race to make sure we’ve got the most highly educated, most skilled workforce in the world.

“When companies and businesses are looking to locate, that’s what they’re looking for,” Obama said. “And I don’t want them looking any farther than Reno, Nevada, the state of Nevada, the United States of America; we’ve got the best workers in the world and I want to keep it that way.”

A college official estimated total attendance at the rally, including those outside, at 2,100.

Obama also pushed his plan to maintain the Bush tax cuts for most Americans, but not for individuals making $200,000 or more and couples making $250,000 or more, and criticized presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for seeking tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest citizens.

Obama said that since he took office, his administration has helped over three million more students afford a college education.

“Now, unfortunately, the economic plan of Gov. Romney could cut our investments in education by about 20 percent,” he said.

The cuts are proposed not to balance the budget but to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, Obama said.

“Does that sound like a plan for a better future for you?” he asked. “It’s a plan that says we can’t afford to help the next generation, but we can afford massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

In response to Obama’s remarks here and in Ohio, the Republican National Committee said research shows that during his administration, the cost of college “is skyrocketing to an all time high.”

Since Obama took office, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds has increased from 12.4 percent to 13.5 percent, the RNC said.

“Despite President Obama’s speech tonight in Reno, it’s more clear than ever that his failed policies have seen college costs soar and job opportunities dwindle for young graduates,” the RNC said.

Obama handily won Nevada in the 2008 presidential race, but saw Democrats lose ground in Nevada and nationally in the 2010 mid-term elections. Polls put the state as a tossup between the two candidates, and Washoe County is viewed by many local political observers as the region where the race will be played out in November.

In his concluding remarks, Obama said he is counting on students like those at Truckee Meadows to not get discouraged and to work to help Democrats win Nevada in November.

“First of all, you’ve got no excuses not to register to vote,” he said.

If volunteers knock on doors and make phone calls just like in 2008, Democrats will win Washoe County, Nevada and another four years, Obama said.

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Audio clips:

President Obama says education is not just important to students, but to America’s success as well:

082112Obama1 :26 in the world.”

Obama says America has the best workers in the world and he wants to keep it that way:

082112Obama2 :16 it that way.”

Obama says Mitt Romney wants to cut college spending to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy:

082112Obama3 :12 your tax loophole.”

 

Nevada Out Of Running For New Federal Race To The Top Funds

By Sean Whaley | 3:46 pm April 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada is out of the running for next round of federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funds to improve early childhood education.

Nevada submitted its application in November 2011.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced today that $133 million from the 2012 Race to the Top fund will be available for continued investments in state-level, comprehensive early education reform.

The agencies have invited the next five applicants from the Fiscal Year 2011 slate – Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin – to apply for a share of the funds.

“The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge has demonstrated the dedication among states and early education and child development experts to raise the bar on early learning,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Continuing to support states with 2012 funding will help build on the momentum from the 2011 competition, and engage more states in furthering their critical work to transition effective early learning programs into systems of excellence.”

In 2011, 35 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico applied to Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, creating plans that increase access to high-quality programs for children from low-income families, and provide more children from birth to age 5 with a strong foundation needed to succeed in school and beyond. In December 2011, nine states were awarded grants: California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington.

Eligibility for 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funding was based on the strength of applications among states that participated but did not receive awards in the 2011 competition. New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois and Wisconsin each earned approximately 75 percent or more of total points possible on a 300-point scale in the 2011 competition. The five states will each be eligible to apply for up to 50 percent of last year’s potential award amount.

Following the 2011 competition, the U.S. Department of Education conducted a thorough review of applicant and reviewer feedback, as well as reviewers’ scores and comments. The review found minor scoring inconsistencies for seven states: Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin.

These discrepancies did not have an effect on the 2011 competition. Nonetheless, the department consulted with the original peer reviewer in each case, and as a result, scores changed slightly for five states: Hawaii was 135.2 and has been revised to 125.2; Kentucky was 208.4 and has been revised to 207.2; Massachusetts was 267 and has been revised to 257; New Mexico was 236 and has been revised to 236.2; and Wisconsin was 234 and has been revised to 224. The overall score did not change for Nevada or New York.

Nevada ranked 29th among those submitting applications.

Nevada also missed out on race to the top funding for its public education system in 2010.

State Labor Group Moving Forward With Business Profits Tax Ballot Measure

By Sean Whaley | 2:46 pm April 3rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – State AFL-CIO leader Danny Thompson said today his labor group is moving forward with a broad-based business profits tax ballot measure to raise money for education.

Thompson, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said the proposal will go forward as a petition to amend state law, which would first be considered by the Legislature in 2013. If the Legislature did not approve the measure within 40 days, it would go to the voters in 2014.

Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO.

Thompson said the tax, which would be assessed on net business profits in excess of $500,000 at a rate of 2 percent, has been projected by some analysts to bring in about $1 billion a year to the state general fund. The money would go to fund public and higher education.

Supporters of the proposal would have until November 13 to gather 72,352 signatures from registered voters, which Thompson said is more than enough time to ensure they would be successful. The measure has not yet been filed with the Secretary of State’s office because a final legal review is still under way, he said.

In a subsequent telephone interview, Thompson said there is no question that the proposal will be challenged in court so it is important to make sure it can withstand such a review.

“We qualified the minimum wage initiative in a period of a couple of months,” Thompson said. “And so we just want to make sure everything is correct. Because you still have to get over a court challenge, which inevitably we know will be coming.”

Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, said too many of Nevada’s students are failing in large part because of inadequate funding. A better educated workforce is needed to diversify the state’s economy as well, he said.

In anticipation of such a tax proposal, Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller has filed two ballot measures, one seeking to give the Legislature the authority to raise the mining tax, and a second that would increase the gaming tax on the state’s largest casinos.

He has called Thompson’s proposal, based on a Texas margin tax, “a destructive, terribly complex tax.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he opposes the various ballot measures, arguing tax discussions belong at the Legislature. Partly in response to the different proposed ballot measures, Sandoval last month said he would extend a collection of taxes set to expire on June 30, 2013, into the next two-year budget to avoid any further cuts to public education.

Thompson said he has had no discussions with Miller about his business profits tax proposal, adding that Nevada has relied for far too long on gaming and mining to fund the state budget and public education.

Nevada will be the last state to recover from the recession because the state depends on discretionary income spent on the state’s gaming industry, Thompson said.

“I don’t know what it’s going to look like if we continue down the road we are going,” he said.

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Audio clips:

Danny Thompson says qualifying the ballot measure won’t be difficult:

040312Thompson1 :15 will be coming.”

Thompson says Nevada now taxes only gaming and mining:

040312Thompson2 :08 don’t pay taxes.”

Thompson says Nevada’s will recover last because of its tax structure:

040312Thompson3 :17 who recover last.”

Thompson says the tax structure needs to change:

040312Thompson4 :14 where we’re at.”

 

 

Gov. Sandoval Will Extend Sunsetting Taxes Into Next Two-Year Budget To Avoid Education Cuts

By Sean Whaley | 2:17 pm March 13th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he will propose to extend a package of taxes now set to expire in June 2013 into the next budget to avoid further cuts to education, which he said cannot withstand further reductions.

To maintain a basically flat spending plan for the two-year budget that will begin on July 1, 2013, Sandoval said the modified business tax that was maintained at a higher rate for large businesses in the 2011 legislative session, along with a small increase in the sales tax, must be continued.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The 2011 tax package also eliminated the business tax for 115,000 small Nevada businesses which would continue into the next budget as well.

“We’re going to keep them,” Sandoval said of the sunsetting taxes. “Again, my baseline is this: I’m not going to cut education, and that includes K-12 and higher ed. I am not going to reduce services for the most vulnerable people in our society.

“I’m not going to pit kindergartners against senior citizens,” he said. “I’m not going to pit higher ed students against people that need essential services.”

This preliminary recommendation for beginning the budget process for the 2013 legislative session could be modified as the state’s fiscal picture becomes clearer in the coming months, Sandoval said.

“We’re going to be having many conversations between now and when the final budget is presented to the Legislature,” he said. “I believe at this point in time, which is very early, it is the responsible thing to do for the future of the state of Nevada.”

Sandoval said an expanding Medicaid caseload, along with costs associated with the expansion of the program under the federal health care law, will consume any revenue increases. Because of this, failing to include the sunsetting taxes for budget planning purposes would mean cuts to education.

“In addition to avoiding further cuts to education, this decision means there will be no need for tax increases in the next session,” Sandoval said. “Nevadans will pay no more than they are in the current biennium. The budget building process remains ongoing, but we must begin today.”

Efforts are under way to circulate petitions to put possible tax increases before the voters, including measures that could lead to hikes in both mining and gaming taxes. A gross margin tax on business is also being considered by labor groups and teachers but no ballot measure has been filed yet.

Sandoval made the announcement to the capitol press corps after a meeting of the Board of Examiners. He said his intention with the announcement is to be transparent.

Sandoval strongly opposed continuing the tax increases approved by the 2009 legislature in the 2011 session, but ultimately agreed to do so after a Nevada Supreme Court ruling threw his proposed budget into financial disarray.

The 2013-15 budget planning process begins Thursday with a briefing by state Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp to state agencies and representatives of public and higher education.

Today’s announcement was immediately welcomed by some Republican lawmakers.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who is expected to lead the Republican Senate caucus in the 2013 legislative session, said he supports Sandoval’s preliminary budget instructions.

“I support Gov. Sandoval and his budget instructions that will not impose new taxes on the people of Nevada,” Roberson said. “I will continue to lead the fight against new tax increases while working with Gov. Sandoval to improve public education. I will not support additional cuts to public education.”

Roberson opposed extending the sunsetting taxes in the 2011 session, arguing that the Nevada Supreme Court ruling did not create the huge financial hole in the budget that others had suggested.

“Gov. Sandoval has outlined a prudent and fiscally responsible preliminary budget framework,” Roberson said.  “I am grateful for his tremendous leadership. I will stand with him and support him.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, announced his support for Sandoval’s proposal via Twitter.

“I applaud the decision by Gov. Sandoval to do what is necessary to protect education from cuts,” he said, adding that what that means in the 2013 session is yet to be determined.

Nevada Senate Democrats issued a statement saying they “applaud” the change of position by Sandoval and Republican lawmakers but that the proposal is an insufficient short-term fix.

“What we need are long-term solutions to resolving our budget problems, not postponing them for another 2 years,” said Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas. “We must address tax fairness for middle class families, cut wasteful spending in our government, and provide Nevada business with an educated workforce that can help compete in the national and global marketplace.

“In order to diversify our economy and attract new businesses and industry to Nevada, we must show them we are serious about investing in a well educated workforce,” he said. “We can’t do that if education funding remains stagnant.”

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, criticized Sandoval’s announcement in a statement:

“Taxpayers lose again with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s decision to propose extending the so-called ‘sunset’ taxes,” he said. “This demonstrates, once again, the danger behind the concept of a ‘temporary’ tax increase. Once bureaucracy becomes dependent on that additional revenue to sustain itself, the tax increase rarely goes away.

“In 2010, Gov. Sandoval stated that raising taxes is ‘the worst possible thing you can do’ after a recession,” Lawrence said. “His statement is as correct today as it was then – raising taxes on job creators is exactly the wrong thing to do in the aftermath of a recession.”

Sandoval said the spending will also be prepared using the new approach of performance-based budgeting.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he will keep the sunsetting taxes in his budget to avoid cuts to education:

031312Sandoval1 :14 in our society.”

Sandoval says he won’t pit kindergarteners against senior citizens:

031312Sandoval2 :12 need essential services.”

Sandoval says at this point in time it is the responsible thing to do:

031312Sandoval3 :12 state of Nevada.”

 

Governor Asks Council to Review Education Data Systems

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 7:51 am October 8th, 2011

Gov. Brian Sandoval yesterday signed an executive order directing the P-16 Advisory Council to review education data systems in Nevada.

The Council, created by state statute, is intended to help coordinate education efforts in Nevada from the preschool through postsecondary levels and has the authority to address the data information system for public school students.

Esther Bennett Elementary School, Sun Valley, Nevada

“The effective use of high-quality education date is integral to the success of these reforms and establishing an effective education data system requires the cooperation of the executive and legislative branches of government, local school districts, Nevada’s System of Higher Education, educators in classrooms and early childhood care providers,” Sandoval said in a press release.

The Council, consisting of eleven members, includes Bret Whipple, Erin Cranor, Caryn Swobe, Stacy Woodbury, John LaGatta, Senator Joe Hardy, Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, Cedric Crear, Sue Daellenbach, Linda Johnson and Senator Barbara Cegavske.

According to the executive order, the Council’s recommendations will address the following:

– Establishing a cross-agency governance structure with representatives who have decision-making authority

– Identifying resource needs in the areas of staffing, technology and funding

– Developing policies that outline what data are shared and how; where they will be stored; how often they will be updated; who will conduct analyses; how privacy will be protected

– Creating a vision for the state’s longitudinal data system to ensure it will support the state’s education and workforce development needs

– Necessary legislation to carry out the Council’s recommendations.

The executive order requires quarterly reports on February 1, May 1, and August 1 of 2012 and for all work to be completed by August 1, 2012.

Gov. Sandoval To Lawmakers: Finish Your Work By June 6

By Sean Whaley | 5:35 pm May 16th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Memo to Nevada lawmakers: If you don’t finish up your work on June 6 as the constitution requires, don’t expect Gov. Brian Sandoval to call you back to work right away in a special session.

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga, in a briefing today with the press, said there is a belief expressed by some involved in the process that if the Legislature does not complete a budget and redistricting by the 120-day deadline, that Sandoval will immediately call lawmakers back into session to continue their work.

That won’t happen, Erquiaga said. There won’t be a special session called for the remainder of that week for certain, he said. Only the governor can call a special session of the Legislature.

The session will actually end at 1 a.m. on June 7. The Legislature gets the extra hour because of the change to daylight savings time.

“Three weeks from today, the Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn and they will do so,” Erquiaga said. “There will be no special session that week. So those folks who think that this governor will simply keep the Legislature around to continue its work are misinformed. They can finish their work on June 6 and we expect them to do so.

“I want you to understand clearly that this notion that has been bred around here lately that special sessions just follow on after the 120th day is not an operating premise for this administration,” he said. “We don’t think they need to come back at all. If they don’t finish by June 6, it is their responsibility.”

Erquiaga also said Sandoval believes the tax proposals under discussion by lawmakers over the past few days, including a services tax, were “dead on arrival” and the Legislature should work to finish the next two-year budget with the $6.1 billion in available revenue. The amount of revenue, revised upwards after some add backs and new Economic Forum projections, compares to the $6.2 billion in spending in the current budget, he said.

Sandoval has agreed to look at a “trigger” mechanism whereby if tax revenues come in ahead of the forum’s conservative projections, that the money can be restored to K-12 and higher education over the course of the two years of the budget, Erquiaga said.

But the $1.2 billion in tax proposals being pushed by Democrats, including a new business margin tax and the extension of taxes approved in 2009 that will sunset June 30, are not supported by Sandoval, he said.

Sandoval would support a review of the various tax proposals in the interim before the next session in 2013, but it is too late to review the complex data now even if the objective was for a revenue neutral tax structure, Erquiaga said.

“Fourteen days is not a time frame in which to adopt the most significant shift in tax policy in this state since 1955,” he said.

The comments came as Democrat lawmakers today added more spending to Sandoval’s proposed budget in the area of parole and probation. They also came as Sandoval vetoed a bill passed by Democrats funding public education for the next two years that contained $660 million in spending beyond what he had proposed. In his veto message, Sandoval said the higher level of funding amounted to a “circuitous attempt to secure a tax increase.”

In response, Assembly Ways and Means Chairwoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said: “In his veto statement, the governor mentions only spending the money we have and not allowing for additional funding of education. Let me be clear: A.B. 568 does not contain additional funding, but instead prevents massive cuts to public schools – the largest in our state’s history.”

The Senate Revenue Committee today also took more testimony on a bill to extend the tax cuts set to expire June 30 and to implement a new business tax that would eventually replace the current modified business tax on payroll.

Asked what happens if the Legislature fails to finish the budget by the deadline, Erquiaga said that scenario is not being given any consideration at this time. The administration is researching what would have to happen if the state does not have a budget by the start of the fiscal year July 1 but no contingency plans are being developed, he said.

“We don’t think it’s going to be necessary,” Erquiaga said.

“I think it is more likely they will agree if they realize there is a real deadline with this administration, and that they don’t get to just stay and meet a couple of more weeks,” he said. “They have three weeks.”

Audio clips:

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga says there will be no special session called immediately if lawmakers fail to finish their work by June 6:

051611Erquiaga1 :25 to do so.”

Erquiaga says the idea that special sessions just follow the 120-day session is not an operating premise for the Sandoval administration:

051611Erquiaga2 :18 as we’re concerned.”

Erquiaga says the Legislature can finish in the three weeks remaining:

051611Erquiaga3 :22 is their responsibility.”

Erquiaga says Sandoval has a real deadline for the Legislature to adjourn:

051611Erquiaga4 :15 have three weeks.”

Erquiaga says there is not enough time remaining in the session to have a major overhaul of Nevada tax policy:

051611Erquiaga5 :09 state since 1955.”

Nevada Rep. Berkley Stresses Education, Alternative Energy In Remarks To Lawmakers

By Sean Whaley | 8:19 pm April 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Recently announced U.S. Senate candidate Shelley Berkley spoke to the Nevada Legislature today, stressing education, infrastructure and energy independence as ways to create jobs and get the state back on track.

Berkley, D-Nev., who has served in the House of Representatives from Congressional District 1 in Southern Nevada since 1999, delivered her remarks in the Assembly in front of lawmakers, Gov. Brian Sandoval and the other constitutional officers, and the members of the Nevada Supreme Court.

Berkley’s visit to the Legislative Building comes just days after her announcement that she will run for the Senate seat being vacated by John Ensign, R-Nev. Berkley will likely be facing fellow Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in the 2012 race.

The upcoming Senate race did not come up in her remarks, which focused on how to get Nevadans back to work.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., addresses the Legislature today/Photo: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

Education is a key to this effort, Berkley said.

“Businesses coming to Nevada need and want a well educated and well-trained workforce, and they are not going to come here if we don’t deliver that,” she said.

In perhaps her most pointed remarks, Berkley acknowledged the sometimes acrimonious and partisan debate in the Assembly on Tuesday regarding Sandoval’s public education budget, saying “in my mind, gutting our education system is short-changing our children.”

Berkley said she was not leveling any criticism at the hard work of lawmakers in addressing public education funding in a time of scarce resources, but that failing to fund education is undermining Nevada’s ability to diversify its economy.

She also talked about the need to restore the country’s infrastructure as one way to create jobs, and the opportunities available in Nevada to develop alternative energy sources, which would not only provide economic benefits to the state but would help wean the country off its dependence on foreign oil as well.

“Energy independence in my mind is a national security imperative,” Berkley said. “It is incomprehensible to me that a superpower like the United States of America is so dependent on the Saudis and the Venezuelans and the Nigerians to have our energy needs met. These countries are not our friends.”

Berkley also said there is an effort under way in Washington, DC, to re-initiate the development of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump, which she said is unnecessary because of the ability to store the waste safely at the nuclear reactor sites. It is time to close the door on Yucca Mountain as a waste site, which would also save $100 billion in development costs, she said.

Berkley spoke out against a Republican proposal in Congress to replace Medicare with a voucher program, saying it would cost seniors, many of whom rely on social security to live, $6,000 in out-of-pocket health care costs.

In a brief meeting with the media after her remarks, she did say her race against Heller will present Nevada voters with a clear choice on policy issues including Medicare and Social Security.

The number one issue will be jobs, and Berkley said her position “is the correct one to move this nation and this state into the future.”

Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says companies looking at coming to Nevada want an educated workforce:

042011Berkley1 :11 don’t deliver that.”

Berkley says failing to fund education will shortchange children and hurt economic diversification efforts:

042011Berkley2 :20 diversify our economy.”

Berkley says the U.S. has to end its dependence on foreign oil:

042011Berkley3 :19 not our friends.”

Berkley says it’s time to end Yucca Mountain once and for all:

042011Berkley4 :14 and for all.”

Full Berkley address to Legislature, part 1:

042011Berkley Address 1 8:15

Full Berkley address to Legislature, part 2:

042011Berkley address 2 4:58

Full Berkley address to Legislature, part 3:

042011Berkely address 3 7:07

Full Berkley address to Legislature, part 4:

042011Berkley address 4 5:45

Legislators “Offended” and “Insulted” As They Make Symbolic Party-Line Vote Over Education Budget

By Andrew Doughman | 7:00 am April 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – It was not until 30 minutes before midnight that a six-hour debate in the Assembly ended with a promise to talk more later.

After listening to presentations outlining more than $1 billion in “major reductions” to the K-12 budget, legislators debated their willingness to compromise or negotiate about Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed general fund budget.

“My caucus will be voting gov rec,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, using an abbreviation for the governor’s recommended budget. “So you’re not going to get the wiggle room you’re looking for.”

In the end, all 16 Assembly Republicans voted in a symbolic motion to support a motion last night to pass Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended budget. All 26 Assembly Democrats opposed the motion.

The Senate will debate the same budget in the same process today.

Republicans repeatedly said they want to see specific tax proposals as well as a reassurance that reforms they want will pass out of the Assembly as a trade for tax increases.

“Until we have the discussions about the reforms and the revenue package, we will continue to have a discussion about gov rec,” Goicoechea said.

Democrats stressed the need to debate specifics of the governor’s proposed education budget. Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said the Assembly needed to find common ground for an acceptable level of cuts before they could discuss additional revenues.

“We rarely change a lot … 10, 15, 20 percent of the budget,” he said.

He called the six-hour marathon hearing in the Assembly chambers a success.

“We got the temperature of where people are at,” he said. “It felt to me that we saw a few people who said we can look at a few things.”

Sprinkled throughout the hearing in Assembly chambers were instances of legislators calling each other “disingenuous” and saying they were “offended” and “insulted” with each other.

The verbal sniping came only hours after the Senate inducted former Sen. Bill Raggio into the Senate’s Hall of Fame. Raggio, a legislator who retired earlier this year, was a constant critic of the partisan hardening and lack of respect characteristic of 21st century political debate.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D- North Las Vegas, said Nevada’s Assembly was starting to look like D.C.

“If we want to have D.C. politics, here it is,” she said.

Both Democrats and Republicans did, however, say that the new process of having budget discussions involving all 42 Assembly members appealed to them more than having a few key legislators meet and make decisions in private.

But that does not make anybody more likely to agree.

“It looks like we’re going to be here for a very long haul,” said Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas.

Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, called the whole hearing a “farce,” to which Kirkpatrick, retorted: “if you don’t respect the institution, don’t come back.”

As Wednesday morning drew close, Goicoechea said there’s “no doubt” everybody wants to find a solution.

“This is the beginning, this isn’t the end,” Smith said. “This was the first tough discussion we had … We can’t call each other disingenuous because we disagree. It’s not a farce. It’s not a train wreck.”

But by 11:30 p.m., the only unanimous motion was for the Assembly to retire for the night.

 

In Late Night Hearing, Assembly Caught Up In Education Funding Numbers Game

By Andrew Doughman | 10:37 pm April 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Assembly was awash with numbers tonight.

As part of the Democratic strategy to close the budget, the Assembly as a whole discussed for four and a half hours the education budget so that all legislators could learn about the cuts.

Legislative staff presented to the Assembly more than $1 billion proposed “major reductions” to school districts. These numbers come from a variety of sources:

  • $600 million from freezing teachers’ pay increases, reducing salaries by 5 percent and making teachers contribute more to their retirement plans.
  • $238 million from the governor’s direct reductions to state support for public schools.
  • $221 million of room tax money continues to shift from supporting schools to the state general fund, as it does in the current budget.

The governor has also proposed to use $301 million in districts’ bond debt reserves for day-to-day expenses. School district representatives argue that this equates to an additional cut.

For legislators who do not sit on fiscal committees, the hearing in the Assembly chambers allowed them to ask questions about the education budget and education policy.

What ensured was a semantics game.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget director, Andrew Clinger, said that a $141 million pay freeze does not equate to a reduction and the $221 million room tax is already diverted to the state budget this year.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, contended the pay freeze was a reduction.

Clinger said shifting $301 million from debt reserves to day-to-day expenses was not a cut.

Smith said it was.

The confusion, however, did not end there.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero-Loop, D-Las Vegas, asked how much money the state would cut per student. That ever elusive “per pupil spending” number was no easier to find this evening.

“It really depends on who you ask,” Clinger said. “Depending on what your source is, you’re going to get a different answer.”

Depending how one cooks the numbers, those estimates can vary by thousands of dollars. But boiled down, the proposed budget would allot $315 less per student than it currently does.

Smith asked Washoe County Superintendent Heath Morrison whether he thought sweeping districts’ bond reserves should be called a “cut.”

“The semantics of ‘is it a cut?’ Here’s what I know: It hurts the Washoe County School District,” he said.

Republicans, however, contended that school districts could make the cuts hurt less through changes to state government.

Assemblymen Pat Hickey, R-Reno, and Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, suggested that school districts suspend prevailing wage – a requirement to pay a certain wage for public works projects – in an attempt to help districts save money.

Assemblyman Mark Hammond, R-Las Vegas, who is a teacher at a Las Vegas school, said he would like to see principals have more control over funds that come to their schools.

Assemblyman Crescent Hardy, R-Mesquite, said the Legislature should change collective bargaining rules so districts can drive a harder bargain for contracts with teachers and administrators.

Morrison contended this would not help. He said teachers and administrators have agreed to cuts in the past.

“I did not see collective bargaining as a problem,” he said. “I did not see anything but cooperation and support.”

Smith also said that reform is not the issue.

“We do need reform and we are working on reform,” she said. “But we also need to adequately fund our education system.”

Through the semantics squabbles and policy debates, a partisan bent seemed to triumph.

Democrats said there was too little in the governor’s $5.8 billion budget to help Nevada out of the recession.

“The elephant in the room is that we have a revenue problem rather than a spending problem,” said Assemblyman Joseph Hogan, D-Las Vegas.

Republicans said Sandoval’s budget is just right.

“The governor is trying to restore the economy,” said Assemblyman Pete Livermore, R-Carson City. “If you’re going to tax people out of their businesses and out of their homes, how can you restore the economy?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Won’t More Businesses Come To Nevada?

By Andrew Doughman | 7:22 am March 24th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Sometimes, trying to read the CEO’s mind can be a political game.

Critics of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed education cuts have said business owners will not move to a state that ravages its already low-performing education system with spending reductions.

Whether that is true or not depends who you ask.

On Monday, television host Jon Ralston asked Sandoval if business owners have cited concerns over Nevada’s public education system as the reason they don’t set up shop in Nevada.

Sandoval replied he “has not heard that one.”

The next day, United States Sen. John Ensign addressed the Nevada Legislature. Ensign said he talks with “technology companies from all over the world.”

“When I ask them why not choose Nevada as a place for your business to build, the answer is that our schools are just not good enough,” he said. “They mention that the tax climate is desirable but tell me our K-12 system is inadequate.”

The two Republican politicians offered different answers. So who is right?

Again, that depends who you ask. Mark Arend is the editor of Site Selection magazine, a publication for CEOs and real estate consultants.

“I don’t think most site selectors get into the weeds of education budgets that much,” he said. “They’re really looking at finding the labor force they want.”

Businesses like a favorable tax climate and a regulatory landscape devoid of red tape.

But they also need the right people. Of course, who those right people are depends on the job.

“What a casino needs is a lot different from what a solar manufacturing company needs,” Arend said.

Leaders in Nevada are more interested in the latter than the former.

“Our future lies in business sectors like technology commercialization, bioscience, renewable energy asset development, and defense sector expansion,” Sandoval said during his State of the State address in January.

Those are the types of jobs that require skilled workers, or at least educated workers who can easily learn the skills required in emerging industries.

Hence the arguments that Sandoval should not cut education budgets. That way, the argument goes, chief executives considering a relocation will be confident that Nevada’s education system can churn out skilled workers.

Sandoval plans to cut the K-12 budget by more than $200 million and the higher education budget by $162 million.

Nevada consistently ranks poorly – sometimes last in the nation – in polls and surveys grading or ranking its education system.

“It’s a perception issue. There are terrific schools in our school system,” said Hayim Mizrachi, at NAI Las Vegas, a commercial real estate company. “…But, when they read that Nevada is the lowest of the low in education it raises a flag, and the flag creates a conversation, and that conversation distracts from all the benefits.”

Some of those benefits are Nevada’s low tax environment.

Site Selection magazine surveyed corporate real estate executives and asked them “what matters most” in determining a site location. A skilled work force and a state’s tax scheme are first and second on the list.

Last month, business leaders met with the governor and state legislators. For the type of high-tech jobs Nevada’s leaders want to create, the business representatives said that low taxes and a solid education system are both important.

So who is right, Sandoval or Ensign?

Here’s a politician’s answer: they both are.

Is the Sad State of Nevada Public Education a Deterrent for Relocating Companies?

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:01 pm March 23rd, 2011

Yes, definitely.

Or, not primarily.

Apparently the answer depends on which elected official you ask.

In remarks to the Nevada State Assembly, Senator John Ensign yesterday that companies avoid moving to Nevada because our schools are poor. Here are Ensign’s exact remarks:

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I speak with technology companies from all over the world. When I ask them why not choose Nevada as a place for your business to build, the answer is that our schools are just not good enough. They mention that the tax climate is desirable but tell me our K-12 system is inadequate.

Ensign also said Intuit executives conveyed to him in a recent dialogue that the sad state of Nevada’s public education system was a major deterrent to a move to Nevada.

But in an interview on Face to Face Monday, when asked whether companies have expressed hesitation to come to Nevada because of concerns over public education, Governor Brian Sandoval said he “has not heard that one.”

Transcript:

Ralston: There’s been a lot of discussion, as you know, about the disconnection between cutting higher education and diversifying the economy, getting economic development. I know you disagree with people who say you can’t do it. But be candid. You have talked about being more personal than any governor ever has been in trying to recruit businesses. You must be hearing concerns. Tell the truth here governor. When they talk to you, they have to be saying, “hey, you’re gutting your higher education system or you’re cutting. How can I have an assurance if I move my company there or if I move my employees there, there’s going to be a robust higher education system?”

Governor: Well, first you say to tell the truth would imply that I wasn’t before. But anyway…

Ralston: I mean be candid about these conversations.

Governor: And I’ll be candid about that.

Ralston: People, they must be showing concerns. And I don’t, I’m not suggesting–

Governor: No, no, and I know that.

Governor: My point is this: I have talked to many of these companies. Their top-line issue is the tax structure. That’s why they’re leaving California, because they’re being taxed, because they’re being over-regulated.

Ralston: But they’re not coming here. They’re not coming here yet. They’re not coming here because the higher education system and the lower education system … everybody agrees with it.

Governor: I have not heard that one.

Ralston: Oh come on.

Governor: Who is everyone?

Ralston: You have not heard … the business folks will say that. Education folks will say that. You have not heard once that businesses won’t move here because of the education system? Not once?

Governor: I have not heard that that is the reason why a company did not come here.

Ralston: Then what’s the reason? What possible … because we have a lower tax system than California and most neighboring states do. Do we not?

Governor: Most of the time it is because other states provide more incentives than the state of Nevada does, that provide them a bonus for coming there, or a deeper tax subsidies.

Ralston: Why can’t we provide those same level of incentives?

Governor: That’s one of the things I’m trying to do through my budget. I’m completely remaking the way economic development works in the state of Nevada. I want to create a catalyst fund that gives the state of Nevada the ability to provide the things that other states do.

Ralston: It does cost money, right?

Governor: It does.

Ralston: Tax incentives, you have to essentially, you might not like this verb, but bribe these folks with better deals than they can get elsewhere, right?

Governor: Well, not bribe, but part of it is this: they need relocation fees. Sometimes it does cost money to relocate your business. But over the long haul they recognize that our tax structure is much more beneficial. So New Mexico may throw a couple of million dollars at them upfront, but over ten years they’re going to save much more by coming to Nevada.

Ralston: So they’re mentioning the incentives more than the education system?

Governor: Yes.

After his speech to the Assembly, when asked why his conversations with corporations have revealed something so much different than Governor Sandoval’s, Ensign said, “I only know what’s been said to me.”

Ensign insisted he has spoken to “dozens” of companies who cite public education as their primary concern when considering relocation options.

Business Leaders Say Low Taxes Not Enough

By Andrew Doughman | 5:47 pm February 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Business leaders from several large technology companies said today that Nevada lacks the skilled workforce necessary for them to locate in Nevada over the long-term.

When asked whether they favored low taxes or a solid educational system when choosing where to locate their business, a executive from General Electric said both are equally important.

The remarks contradict what Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was also at the meeting with business leaders, said earlier. Sandoval had said that the state’s education system rarely comes up in conversations with business executives.

“Most of the skills we’re looking for we’ve had to bring outside of the state,” said Kevin Doyle of Capgemini, a French-based, information-technology company with business interests in Nevada. “However, frankly, in order to start our business here we need to bring some folks so we know it’s not sustainable long term. Having technology skills is absolutely paramount.”

The businesses said what has been aired in the public sphere before: the lack of educational attainment hurts the state. Legislators said, however, that the meeting was helpful.

“Well, what it helps to do is reinforce that there is commitment on behalf of companies to come and locate to Nevada,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “They want a trained and educated workforce. They need people with the skills to perform certain functions.”

The elected officials gathered at the meeting stressed a renewed bipartisanship as a good sign that they’ll make progress with economic development this legislative session.

The Valentine’s Day meeting brought both political parties to the table.

Horsford and Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, convened the roundtable meeting with business representatives, legislative leadership from both parties and the governor and his staff.

“I challenge any state to bring in a lieutenant governor, a governor, a majority leader, a speaker, the chairmen of the various commissions, the heads of both parties here all in one place to talk about these issues,” Sandoval said. “I think it reinforces some of the things that we all understand, that we have a great business environment in this state.”

Republicans and Democrats seem to be flirting with bipartisanship, but they haven’t yet taken up electoral redistricting or the possibility of tax increases.

For now, however, the consensus among legislators of both parties is that the community colleges should be partnering with businesses. Businesses would ask that students learn certain skills and the colleges would then tailor certification courses to the needs of businesses.

Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education that oversees universities and community colleges, said that this is what community colleges already do.

“The community colleges are the most nimble of the institutions in the system,” he said. “They have programs that they regularly tailor to the needs of a particular business.”

He said the governor’s proposed budget cuts, which total about $162 million during the next biennium, could curtail the ability of the community colleges to create new programs for high-tech industries.

The question of funding for education came up again during a Senate committee hearing. Devin Whitney, a government representative from the membership organization Tech-America, had attended the meeting with the governor and legislative leadership, but stressed his points on the record at the hearing.

He praised Nevada’s low taxes, but said they weren’t enough to attract the businesses he represents.

“What is still lacking is the skilled workforce,” he said. “That requires the appropriate investment in the education system to make sure they are churning out graduates.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, asked Whitney to further describe how certification programs at community colleges would work.

Whitney replied that, in some cases, the programs are simple.

“You do the training, you take the course, you pass a test at the end and you are ready to work,” he said.

Whitney brought up information technology centers as an example. Companies may be drawn to Nevada’s low taxes, but they need educated people to staff such a center.

“If they can’t get the people to manage that center, then they’re going to have to import them from out of state even with the good regulatory and tax environment,” he said.

Senate and Assembly education committees will take up the issue of higher education this Wednesday. The Senate committee on economic development before which Whitney testified also has a day scheduled exclusively for debate about high-tech industry.

Reid and Sandoval Wrangle Over Budget And Taxes In Second Debate In Nevada Governor’s Race

By Sean Whaley | 10:15 pm October 7th, 2010

Taxes, the state budget and a looming revenue shortfall in 2011 took center stage Thursday in the second debate between the two major party candidates for Nevada governor.

Democrat Rory Reid emphasized his detailed proposals to create jobs and balance the budget without new taxes, while Republican Brian Sandoval focused on the need for the state to cut spending and live within its means.

Reid spent much of the hour-long debate in Las Vegas criticizing Sandoval for failing to produce a plan to balance the state budget, which faces a huge gap between tax revenues and anticipated spending needs in the coming two years.

“And Brian can’t talk about his plan tonight, because he doesn’t have one,” Reid said. “It’s hard for me to point out the problems in his plan because he hasn’t released it. He said in June he would deliver a plan to the people of Nevada. It’s Oct. 7. He still hasn’t. Where’s your plan, Brian?”

Sandoval responded that Reid’s budget plan contained “fantasy” revenues of more than $1 billion.

“If you took the time to review his plan, it includes $615 million of fantasy money that we don’t have,” he said. “It has another $400 million of money that supposedly is going to come from modernization and efficiencies that isn’t there.”

Reid would raise taxes to balance the budget, Sandoval said.

“We’re going to have to go back to 2007 levels,” Sandoval said. “That’s the expenditures that we’re going to have to have. We’re going to have to continue the furloughs, but if we make these tough decisions we’ll be able to balance the budget.”

Reid countered that his budget plan is based on solid proposals that do not require new taxes, and he again complained that he could not comment on Sandoval’s budget proposal because he hasn’t presented one.

Sandoval said Reid has repeatedly said he would not raise taxes to balance the budget, but recently acknowledged that if he was presented with a budget from the Legislature that raised taxes, he would accept it.

“No tax ever created a job,” he said.

The debate produced no major gaffes or changes in script from either candidate. Sandoval continues to lead Reid, the son of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in polls.

Reid emphasized his experience as chairman of the Clark County Commission, balancing budgets as large as the state budget.

Sandoval said he has experience with the state budget as a member of the Legislature, and prepared and worked within an executive agency budget as attorney general.

Both rejected any notion of increasing a variety of taxes, from mining to a sales tax on services, to balance the budget despite the anticipated revenue shortfall needed to fund basic programs.

Reid said Sandoval would have to cut public education and lay off teachers to balance the budget.

Sandoval said his plan would not lay off teachers, and he countered that Reid’s plan to continue furloughs for public employees and teachers would result in a cut to education despite his comments to the contrary.

The two candidates also differed on the new federal health care legislation, with Sandoval saying he supports the legal challenge to the constitutionality of the law.

Sandoval said the law is driving up the cost of health insurance premiums in Nevada, and that it could cost Nevada $500 million over 10 years in increased Medicaid costs.

Reid said the challenge is politically motivated but acknowledged the potential cost issues for the state.

“There is potential for it to put significant pressure on states because Medicaid rates could go up significantly,” he said.

Reid said better management of Medicaid, including more managed care, can help deal with the cost issues raised by the new law.

Reid suggested in his opening statement that Sandoval would be beholden to special interests as governor, a theme in one of his television ads that portrayed the former federal judge as a lobbyist for the banking industry.

“Brian seems like a nice person, but I’m concerned about whether he is his own person,” Reid said. “The people behind him, the lobbyists that recruited him, the one’s that will write the bills and the budget that he proposes, they are the ones I’m concerned about. Because if he doesn’t have the strength to stand up to them, how will he ever stand up for you.”

Sandoval said he has experience, integrity and is opposed to tax increases in any form to balance the state budget. He said Reid has flip-flopped on taxes.

“When he was presented with the question that said: If you were presented with a budget that includes a tax increase, would you sign it,” Sandoval said. “And his response was, ‘I would.’ So the answers have changed tonight compared to the answer that was given previously.”

Audio clips:

Democratic governor candidate Rory Reid questions Brian Sandoval’s independence:

100710Reid1 :20 up for you.”

Reid asks Sandoval for his budget plan:

100710Reid2 :15 you’re plan Brian.”

Republican governor candidate Brian Sandoval says Reid’s budget is based on fantasy revenues:

100710Sandoval1 :21 doesn’t add up.”

Sandoval says Nevada government has to cut back:

100710Sandoval2 :12 balance the budget.”

Nevada Public Education Receives Mixed Reviews in New Study

By Sean Whaley | 10:05 am September 6th, 2010

CARSON CITY – An examination of how well states do in educating their low-income children generated some surprising results and shows Nevada ranking 18th in the national comparison, the authors of an ALEC report said last week.

The 16th edition of the Report Card on American Education, released by the American Legislative Exchange Council, contains a comprehensive overview of educational achievement levels for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The report analyzes national comparative student scores in reading and math in the 4th and 8th grades, looking at both performance as well as how scores have improved over recent years. In a separate analysis, the authors also assign each state a grade based on its current education reform policies.

Matthew Ladner, one of the authors of the report, said the study examined how students eligible for the free and reduced lunch program performed in each state using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores. Using the scores from this same group of students in each state provides an “apples to apples” comparison of how states are doing in educating their low-income children and providing an indication of how they are doing overall, he said.

Ladner said the report tries to answer the question: “What if you had to do life over and you were going to be born as an economically disadvantaged child in the United States. Based on the nation’s report card scores in both reading and math for the 4th and 8th grade, which state would you want to be born into.”

Using this comparison of National NAEP scores, also known as the nation’s report card, Nevada performed in the top 20 states. First was Vermont, followed by Massachusetts and Florida. Ranking lowest was South Carolina.

The analysis shows that in Nevada scores for both subjects in both grades saw improvement from 2003 to 2009.

Ladner said the results generated some surprises, such as the inclusion of Florida in the top 10, a state that has a high percentage of minority students in the free and reduced lunch program. Florida has engaged in a number of “very vigorous” education reforms, he said.

Report co-author Andrew LeFevre said the report also makes it clear that money is not the key ingredient to improved student performance.

The District of Columbia and Florida both spent about the same amount of money per child, yet Florida ranked 3rd and D.C. ranked 26th in the study, he said.

The report also provides a grade on how well states are doing in the area of education reform. Nevada garnered a C grade, with the highest, a B+, going to Florida. Vermont had the lowest score, a D.

Thirteen factors went into the reform grade, with Nevada earning a C on state academic standards and its charter school law, a “no” on private school choice, a D- on identifying high quality teachers and a D on retaining effective teachers. The state’s best grade, a B-, came for its ability to remove ineffective teachers.

Despite the fact that it ranked in the top 20 on improvement on the national test scores, Nevada, as do all the other states, have a lot of room for improvement, LeFevre said.

“The good and bad news of the NAEP scores is that yes, Nevada ranked 18th. . .” he said. “The bad news about the NAEP data is you still have 75 percent of your students that are not proficient.”

Ladner also noted that the states are graded on a curve, so Nevada’s 18th ranking is relative.

“There is so much room for improvement that we all ought to be striving forward regardless of where we end up in these rankings,” he said.

ALEC is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, individual membership organization of state legislators.

The report comes out as education has taken center stage this week in the first debate between the two leading party candidates for governor: Democrat Rory Reid and Republican Brian Sandoval. In a one-hour debate Sunday, Sandoval came out in support of a voucher school program in Nevada, where parents could use state tax dollars to send their children to private schools.

Reid opposed the idea, saying only the wealthy could afford to take the state funding and augment it with enough personal funds to pay for a private school education. Reid has come out in support of letting parents “vote with their feet” by taking children out of poorly performing public schools and placing them in other public schools, including charter schools.

Both candidates say also they want to protect public education in the upcoming budget, despite the fact that the state faces a shortfall of as much as $3 billion in the amount of revenue expected to be needed to fund state programs and public education.

Nevada recently lost out on its application for as much as $160 million in federal grant funds to improve student achievement through the “Race to the Top” program. Nevada did not make the cut as a finalist.

___

Audio clips:

ALEC report co-author Matthew Ladner says the study looks at how well low-income students in each state performed on standardized tests:

090110Ladner1 :26 born into, right.”

ALEC report co-author Andrew LeFevre says money is not the gauge for student achievement:

090110LeFevre1 :17 we’re looking for.”

LeFevre says Nevada does well in comparison with other states, but still has large percentage of students who are not proficient:

090110LeFevre2 :29 doing that well.”

Ladner says all states should continue to work to improve student achievement regardless of ranking in the report:

090110Ladner2 :29 in these rankings.”

Reid, Sandoval Debate Education in First Big Head-To-Head

By Sean Whaley | 6:48 am August 30th, 2010

Underdog Democratic candidate for governor Rory Reid took the opportunity at a first debate today with leading GOP candidate Brian Sandoval to challenge his opponent’s commitment to spending on public education.

In his opening remarks, Reid said he has a plan to erase a $2.5 billion shortfall it the state budget without cutting education. Sandoval would cut education and lay off teachers, he said.

Sandoval, leading by double-digits in the polls, parried Reid’s attacks, saying his proposals, including given parents the choice to send their children to private schools with public funding, would not result in teacher layoffs.

Sandoval said Reid’s budget plan would cut education despite his comments to the contrary.

The one-hour debate in Las Vegas, held at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy and broadcast statewide, did not appear to produce any serious political gain for either of the two major party candidates.

Reid emphasized his experience as chairman of the Clark County Commission, saying he has balanced budgets as big as Nevada’s for eight years without raising taxes.

“Strength and consistency is what Nevada needs in its next governor,” he said.

Sandoval said his credentials as a lawmaker, gaming regulator, attorney general and federal judge, and said Nevada’s public education needs a shakeup.

“We need to do something tough, we need to challenge the system, we need to shake up the status quo,” he said.

Both candidates talked up their ideas of giving principals, teachers and parents more power over how to spend tax dollars in the classroom as ways to improve student performance and get more mileage out of the state’s public education investment.

Sandoval said he would achieve local control by using block grants to schools to let them decide how best to spend their limited dollars.

Reid said his proposal would be to let parents take their kids out of failing schools and enrollment them in successful public schools. He called his plan true choice.

“I provide real choice, not the false choice Brian’s plan calls for,” he said.

Reid attacked Sandoval on his support of private school vouchers saying it would take $100 million from public schools to fund the private education of those who could afford it.

In response, Sandoval said choice would create competition and improve education.

Not surprisingly, both camps claimed victory immediately after the debate.

The Reid camp said in part: “If elected in November, Brian Sandoval will continue Jim Gibbons’ shameful legacy of taking money from our children’s classrooms to supplement the state budget. Brian Sandoval does not consider education a priority. Brian Sandoval does not understand the simple fact that we will never get out of this economic slump and draw new industry until we have good schools.”

Sandoval’s commented: “My education plan is a bold approach to challenging the status quo. We must end the social promotion of our children, end teacher tenure and give parents choices to seek the best possible education for their children. It’s time to get serious about reform. Our children deserve nothing less.”

___

Audio clips:

Rory Reid says Brian Sandoval budget plan would cut public education:

082910Reid1 :38 in your classrooms.”

Brian Sandoval says he has plan to shake up public education system:

082910Sandoval 1 :46 will do that.”

Reid says Sandoval voucher plan bad for Nevada children:

082910Reid2 :08 a bad choice.”

Sandoval says Reid plan would cut education:

082910Sandoval2 :10 cut to education.”