Posts Tagged ‘Marilyn Dondero-Loop’

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?”







Proposal Would Ban Smoking On All Nevada College And University Campuses

By Andrew Doughman | 9:47 am February 25th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Students who smoke may soon find it more difficult to do so. A proposal heard today would ban smoking on all Nevada’s university and college campuses.

The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 already outlaws smoking inside of buildings, but this has not rid campuses of tobacco smoke, said Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, the bill’s sponsor and a former professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“My goal in introducing this bill is to make it possible for students to walk on campus and not be exposed to secondhand smoke,” he said. “There are entrances to buildings where smokers cluster because they’re outside, and you have to walk through the smoke to get inside.”

The bill received support from various medical associations whose representatives testified that exposure to secondhand smoke is both harmful and easily preventible. Christopher Roller of the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition said 466 campuses in the United States already have a complete tobacco ban.

The Nevada Faculty Alliance also supported Aizley’s bill.

At the hearing, Aizley also submitted an amendment to his bill that would establish smoking on campus as a misdemeanor for which someone could receive a citation.

Although no one testified against the bill at the Assembly’s judiciary committee meeting, the chairman, William Horne, D-Las Vegas, had several concerns.

Horne, a UNLV graduate himself, imagined smokers fleeing the campus for a cigarette break.

“Where in that immediate vicinity would they be able to do that?” he asked.

Showing his familiarity with the local geography, he rattled off a list of businesses adjacent to the UNLV campus, many of which also don’t allow smoking on their premises.

“So, the parking lot in front of Chipotle?” Horne said. “So I can eat my burrito bowl and pass through a cloud of smoke?”

He seemed to be saying that an enforced ban would create a smoke-free environment for students and faculty, but would likely expose those in the immediate vicinity to more secondhand smoke.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, D-Las Vegas, asked whether or not smoking would be allowed in parking lots.

The bill language states that smoking would be banned “on any property or campus owned or occupied by any component of the Nevada System of Higher Education and used for any purpose related to the System,” which would seem to include university parking lots.

The committee did not vote on the bill.

“I’d like to see if we can come to some kind of compromise,” Horne said to Aizley at the conclusion of the hearing. “They [Smokers] should have at least some place that they could go that’s convenient to do it.”

“My intention is to have the ability to walk through the campus smoke free,” Aizley responded.

Aizley said he would examine possibilities for creating smoking zones that would still allow people to walk through campus without breathing secondhand smoke.

Ellis Announces Run for Assembly

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:38 pm September 26th, 2009

Republican Tibi Ellis, a healthcare professional who immigrated to the United States from Venezuela as a young teenager, has announced her candidacy for Nevada State Assembly District 5 in Las Vegas. The seat is currently held by Democrat Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero-Loop.

“I’ve grown increasingly frustrated and alarmed at politicians putting more and more of the financial burden on Nevada’s families and small businesses” said Ellis in a written statement. “Raising taxes on those that create jobs is no way to fix an economic downturn. Billion dollar tax increases are not going to bring jobs back to Nevada.”

Ellis currently operates her own home care company which assists the elderly, disabled and infirm with care in their own homes. In addition, Ellis is currently chairman of the Nevada Republican National Hispanic Assembly, immediate past chair of Latinas in Politics, and is a member of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

She and her husband have lived in Nevada for nearly 10 years, is a mother of five and a grandmother of two.