The 2015 regular session of the Nevada Legislature starts Monday, but we can make a pretty safe prediction about how it will end June 1: in a rush that keeps the public in the dark.
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A sure sign that government lacks accountability: When public officials use taxpayer resources to shoot the messengers of news they don’t want to hear.
School accountability has improved in Nevada in recent years. High-performing schools can be rewarded with more autonomy, while low-performing schools can be hit with a “turnaround” designation that requires administrative and staff replacements. And teacher tenure has been reformed to make it possible to push ineffective instructors out of public education.
Talk about moving the goal posts. City Hall is determined to subsidize a downtown soccer stadium the public doesn’t want to pay for. So determined, in fact, that city officials are actively working to deny voters the opportunity to kill the project.
It can’t be said enough: Money alone will not improve K-12 education in Nevada or anywhere else. Reforms to public education systems have to be part of any plan to raise student achievement and better train future generations of workers. And no reform is more important or effective than promoting educational competition through school choice.
Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature can go beyond education savings accounts to promote universal school choice in Nevada. Many families, especially low-income households, will need funds beyond what ESAs can provide to pay for the best educational fit for their children.
Since the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, in which 32 students and faculty members were killed and an additional 17 were wounded, gun-rights activists have pushed to allow concealed carry on college campuses. Unfortunately, that push has been widely lambasted by the media and ignored by lawmakers and higher education officials — while shootings in gun-free zones continue at schools large and small.
Bill Foley is a very rich man. The billionaire is chairman of a title insurance and mortgage company and the owner of 14 wineries, a cattle ranch and a golf course community. You don’t build that kind of wealth without doing loads of due diligence, figuring out what people want and whether they’ll pay for it.
One of the great travesties of modern policing is law enforcement’s ability to lawfully steal the property of individuals without making an arrest or even writing a citation.
Public employee unions look out for their members’ financial interests, not those of the public. So why are taxpayers stuck paying the salaries of union leaders who are hostile to them?
The Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada requires major reforms because the state’s pension plan, for too many people, is not a retirement program — it is a wealth generation system. PERS provides former government employees with benefits that are unavailable to the taxpayers who fund the system at great expense. And some PERS perks are immune to IRS rules that sock it to citizens who attempt to access retirement funds.
We know the Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada provides retirement benefits to people who aren’t retired. But did you know the taxpayer-funded pension plan also provides disability benefits to former government workers who aren’t disabled?
It’s not enough for the Nevada Legislature to change retirement benefits for future public employees. The state’s pension plan provides perks and payouts so absurdly generous that some of them need to be dialed back right away.
If Nevada isn’t careful, it could end up like Rhode Island. By 2010, the Ocean State had put about $9 billion in unfunded pension liabilities on the shoulders of just more than 1 million residents. Nevada has almost three times that population, but its governments have unfunded, promised retirement benefits approaching $40 billion by some estimates — more than four times what Rhode Island faced.
We’ve long argued that money alone won’t fix Nevada’s struggling schools. Thankfully, Gov. Brian Sandoval agrees.
It’s an absolute outrage when government employees steal from the public or unlawfully use their jobs to enrich themselves. But the outrage is compounded when those individuals, once convicted, are allowed to collect their taxpayer-funded pensions — even from prison.
Last week, President Barack Obama announced his latest plan to buy back the political support of struggling young Americans. Dubbed “America’s College Promise,” the program would allow “responsible students” to attend community college tuition-free.
You have to furnish photo identification to use a credit card at many businesses. You have to show photo identification to get on an airplane. Even if you have some gray hairs, you have to show photo ID to buy alcohol.
The state’s most urgent education problem can’t be adequately, immediately addressed under existing budgets and law. It’s going to take big ideas and fast action by Gov. Brian Sandoval and the 2015 Legislature to add more classroom space and relieve the extreme crowding created by enrollment growth, especially within the Clark County School District.
The Nevada Legislature has a storied, infamous history of deliberately delaying the introduction of tax-increase legislation, then debating the plan behind closed doors. Lobbyists get their say. Unwashed taxpayers do not.
The Clark County School District has a facility crisis — and it has nothing to do with its lack of classroom space.
Nevada will need thousands of new schoolteachers over the next few years. If Gov. Brian Sandoval and state legislators expand pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programs, and reduce class sizes in elementary grades, Nevada will need thousands more new teachers to staff those new classrooms.
In the private sector, paid days off are a quality of life benefit. They exist to give workers some balance in their personal and professional lives, and provide the flexibility to deal with family and health emergencies without financial sacrifice.
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