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School budget ‘cuts’ that weren’t really cuts

To the editor:

I must confess I was feeling a little bit guilty for voting no on Question 2 last Tuesday. After all, even the Review-Journal, a publication whose opinion I generally agree with, recommended voting yes because it was “for the children.”

I voted no because I thought the county could take some money from the firefighters, who in my opinion are grossly overpaid.

But then I opened the newspaper Sunday and read two articles in the Viewpoints section. In your editorial, I read taxpayers are on the hook for $50 million more than we needed to spend on the regional bus contract because of the cozy relationships RTC Commissioner Larry Brown and County Commissioner Tom Collins have with Veolia Transportation. Mr. Collins was even a “consultant” for Veolia, hired to help them get the contract. This is, to say the least, a blatant conflict of interest for a man who is supposed to be working for the taxpayers and protecting our interests.

Thinking to myself, “It can’t get any worse,” I turn the page, and there’s a commentary from Victor Joecks of the Nevada Policy Research Institute on the numbers game the Clark County School District has been playing.

For those who didn’t read the article, the district has been claiming it made $596 million in cuts to its budget over the past four years. But the “cuts” weren’t decreases in spending, like the rest of us have had to make in our budgets. Instead, the district defines “cuts” as decreases in the spending increases they wanted, which is not at all the same thing.

The fact is they have increased spending a net $16 million over the past four years. This isn’t a matter of semantics or “casual dishonesty,” as the piece generously described this deception. The truth is, the district has been lying to us.

To say the least, I’m not feeling guilty anymore for voting no on Question 2. And I can assure the school district and any other government agency that asks me to vote for a tax increase, I will forever vote “No.”

Thank you for exposing these people and agencies for what they are. And thank you for relieving me of my feelings of guilt. What was I thinking?

MIKE EDENS

LAS VEGAS

Mortgage help

To the editor:

In response to your Oct. 26 editorial on the Nevada Hardest Hit Fund, the program that assists homeowners in Nevada and prevents foreclosures:

Aggressive marketing procedures were undertaken by the HHF through direct mailers to the unemployed and advertisements in papers throughout the state informing Nevada’s citizens of the programs offered. The homeowners who were assisted present compelling stories.

One client, Sandra Oliver, says, “After my divorce, I stayed in my home. Soon, realizing with two sons to raise that I could not meet the house note, I ended up refinancing the house to pay for one son’s college. It’s hard to keep up with expenses on one paycheck. I soon got behind on my mortgage payment and was so far behind I was within three days of losing my house. It was going up for auction.”

Ms. Oliver heard about the governor’s Home Means Nevada event and attended. She was directed to the Hardest Hit Fund table where she was immediately qualified for $1,000 a month in mortgage assistance for a period of nine months. “The Hardest Hit Fund saved my life. I literally was on my way to being homeless. Everyone was so nice and helpful at the HHF; I get goose bumps just thinking about it.”

William Shively, another client, owns a house that has been paid off using the Nevada Hardest Hit Fund principal reduction program. He had received a notice of default from his bank; the bank and the Hardest Hit Fund agreed to financing terms, and Mr. Shively’s home was not only saved for him, but is now owned free and clear. Mr. Shively said the Hardest Hit Fund staff “became like a family. I prayed every night to God that I would get help, and I did.”

The Nevada Hardest Hit Fund to date has disbursed $16,446,365 with an additional $60,829,312 in the pipeline committed for disbursement.

All funds ($195 million awarded to Nevada) are expected to be disbursed by the middle of 2015. Total families served will number approximately 7,766, with most of the assistance going to those who need mortgage assistance and principal reduction.

The U.S. Treasury’s timeline for the disbursement of the Hardest Hit Fund assistance was to be by the end of 2017. Nevada is well on its way to committing all its funds within a four-year period. The Nevada Hardest Hit Fund will have met its mission of serving some of the state’s most distressed homeowners.

CHRISTINE MUNRO

LAS VEGAS

The writer is counsel to the Nevada Hardest Hit Fund executive board of directors, Nevada Housing Division.

Tax the rich

To the editor:

Once again, our president has started the drum roll for additional revenue by increasing taxes on the “rich.” Even though this minority, the rich, pay the vast majority of the revenue collected by the Treasury, they are continually asked to pony up more.

I fully understand our progressive income tax system is overwhelmingly popular with the electorate because it shifts the burden of taxation from themselves to others. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who wrote “Don’t tax me, don’t tax thee, tax the man behind the tree.” Well, it’s still applicable today.

I can only wonder the outcome of the recent, unsuccessful ballot initiative, asking for increased property taxes to repair our schools, if it had been framed as a tax on, say, homes worth more than $500,000. I am sure the outcome would have been different.

JACK CORY

LAS VEGAS

Try low-tax Europe

To the editor:

As a way of helping out a couple of deflated Nov. 8 letter writers, George Pucine can find a home in Canada or Mexico with little effort if he no longer feels he can survive the United States government. Be sure and take your savings along, Mr. Pucine.

And for writer K. Michael Leavitt, Galt’s Gulch of Ayn Rand fame is clearly now located in Europe, where the austerity plan of low taxes and low government spending, as proposed by some Republicans here, is doing wonders.

We survived eight years of the George W. Bush administration (barely), and I am sure we will have no problem surviving and prospering under four more years of President Obama.

CHARLES PARRISH

LAS VEGAS

Sour grapes

To the editor:

Somehow I reckon Joseph Schillmoeller (Nov. 8 letter is a white Republican.

Way to go, Latinos, the out-of-wedlock lobby and the “black community.” You got it all wrong. Stop voting until you see it Mr. Schillmoeller’s way, the right way. Listen to him, you saps, you brought this “suffering” on yourselves!

Sour grapes makes a sweet table wine, baby.

KENT WALLACE

LAS VEGAS

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