…and big government with plans for tax and spending increase
The governor’s state of the state typically begins with some self-congratulations. These included “success” in implementing
socialized medicine under Obamacare. Reduction in unemployment, disregarding the full-time employment discouraging effect of Obamacare and population reduction as part of the reasons, was also touted as a success. Increase in employment from the worst economy since the Great Depression was also credited. Also mentioned was the governor’s attraction of Tesla to Nevada. That was most of the good news from the governor.
After the good news came the programs that he is advocating going forward. Not the least of these will be increased taxes in an amount over $1.1 billion. This includes failure to sunset about $580 million in taxes that voters were told were just for the recession and would end soon. One less unpopular tax that was reported to be included in the amount will be an increase from 80 cents to $1.20 per pack of cigarettes. A very anti-competitive tax increase for business in the range of $400 to $4 million per year per business is also in the proposal. This would hit small businesses directly and reduce the likelihood that large businesses that don’t have to, will come here.
The tax on small business seems uncharacteristic of the governor who is apparently shoring up his support with Hispanic voters by many of his other programs mentioned in the address. He is widely rumored to be positioning himself for future federal appointment or a run for Vice President, if someone will have him, to appeal to Hispanic voters. Taxes on small business generally hit the recent immigrant business population harder than they do big business because big retailers just pass it along to customers. Smaller family-owned and -operated businesses using low-skilled workers are typically from where most new job opportunities and employment growth originate. So this tax is a drain on Sandoval’s targeted voter base and on Nevada
A large portion of the address was given to increased funding of education and education reform. Reform ideas included allowing local jurisdictions to break up school districts into a greater number of districts. During the 1950s 117 school districts were consolidated into one for each county. This made sense in 1955 when the state’s population was 237,000 people. Now the student population of the Clark County School District is over 300,000, making the concept antiquated.
However, it remains to be seen if cities and counties will actually do this and having the state allow it is not a decision to do it.
Sandoval said, “I am asking the Legislature to join me in beginning the work of comprehensive modernization of our education system to meet the needs of today’s students and the New Nevada. This work begins with our youngest learners. Nevada has the lowest preschool attendance of any state in the nation.” The first sentence, apart from the second, sounds like something parents would want. The second sentence however is a page directly out of the teacher’s union propaganda and the socialist cookbook. If the governor has said “Let’s get those 4-year-olds away from their mothers who are influencing them
and into the hands of the teachers union,” perhaps the applause would be more restrained. Empirical data has proven that pre-k school education and all day kindergarten result in gains that are only temporary and that the end result is the same after the third grade.
Moving to a 100 percent all-day kindergarten program is another of the programs that Sandoval asked for. Right now all-day kindergarten is typically only in schools where students come from poor families as discerned by documents that, in our local school district, are filled out by parents and unverified by the district staff. Parents who feel that this is a free day care program for illegals will now have some solace in the fact that the second half of the program will now offer the same service to citizens too.
This program is offset by a new Sandoval program to make up a “Weighted formula,” money distribution to schools based upon “needs” probably including income of the parents. As illegals can have no legal job this again becomes a program for illegals, sounding much like the Democratic Party line. Sandoval also intends to create a new class of schools. “Victory Schools” is apparently the new name for schools that are failing completely now. New funding was proposed for gifted and talented learners and technical high schools.
An offer of $20 million in matching funds to get charter schools started was in the budget. This is a very small amount and works on the expense increase side of the funding calculations. No mention of providing school vouchers, a program that would reduce cost for taxpayers while increasing private education success through charter schools, was made. Again, with the choice between these two options, Sandoval has selected the more costly, big government-style approach.
Collective bargaining reform in our school system was also a Sandoval request. Similar to the issue of allowing school districts to break up, it is hard to imagine that the state can legislate its way out of the school board bargains that we see similar government entities negotiate into. Examples would be the state PERS program or Clark County’s negotiations with such unions at the fire fighters.
“In addition, a new Office for Safe and Respectful Learning will administer $36 million in grants for social workers in our schools, as recommended by the Behavioral Health and Wellness Council.” While the issue of bullying is important, do parents really want their kids pulled out of the home at age four and put under the jurisdiction of social workers?
In offering a spending solution, “Teachers and principals who lead our schools also deserve our support through investment and
accountability. We must empower them. That is why I am introducing legislation to strengthen the current pay for performance laws.” The governor offered no discussion about getting rid of incompetent teachers, which is a big discouragement to the teachers who try so hard for our students and a big source of students that have become unrecoverably behind in the educational system.
The overall budget refers to the total as, “The budget I am proposing includes $7.3 billion in General Fund spending — significantly less than agency requests.” No doubt the liberal press will soon be referring to this as a “Budget cut.”
“But it begins the strategic investment in the education that we require.” This is an interesting use of the word begins. As Nevada typically is spending about $10,000 per student each year, this ongoing investment is about the national average. Again this is teacher’s union propaganda repeated directly by the governor in his State of the State address. Heavy emphasis was put on the opinion of future Nevadans in the year 2065 on what we did here today. The educational solution seems to be more money without reforming first. In that regard then, Tuesday’s speech represents a continuation of the trend line that we have seen already. With respect to the trend line it is hard to see how making sunset taxes continue or increasing cigarette taxes will make anyone want to retire here or businesses move here. At age 51 Sandoval will never face the music in 2065. His greater interest seems to be 2016.
Taxpayers who have done their homework on Nevada education problems see little to rejoice in with the programs offered in the SOS speech, and businesses don’t look forward to increased taxes from it either.
Apparently the plan is to get Democrats on board with the governor’s compromises between now and the 2016 election. Although it was widely reported on November 4, the governor was apparently unaware that the Republican Party has taken control of the Nevada State legislature.