Reid website accuses Sandoval of proposing teacher layoffs

A new website from Democratic gubernatorial Rory Reid continues his campaign’s efforts to support his assertion Republican rival Brian Sandoval plans to lay off thousands of Nevada teachers.

The website, found here, mimics the look of the popular Wikipedia site and details the Reid campaign’s argument that Sandoval would lay off of 5,180 k-12 teachers — a charge Sandoval has denied.

Reid’s accusation is based on the assumption teacher unions would choose layoffs over new contract negotiations for cuts and it also relies largely on statements and proposals Sandoval made related to a short term budget shortfall that no longer exists. Sandoval assumes teachers would make concessions, as they have in the past.

The website uses material from Sandoval’s plan to solve the state’s short-term budget shortfall back in January to undercut Sandoval’s recently released education plan, which Reid calls a "pink slip agenda."

Reid says translating Sandoval’s proposed pay reductions into layoffs is valid because the governor doesn’t have the authority to cut teacher salaries, it could only be done if teacher unions agreed to re-open contract negotiations.

To back up the accusations Reid totes up Sandoval’s education personnel-related cost-savings measures and divides by teacher salaries to arrive at the number of potential layoffs.

Reid starts with a 4 percent across-the-board cut Sandoval proposed in January as part of the short term budget deficit plan.

That plan was Sandoval’s response to a budget shortfall that, at the time, was thought to be around $600 million for the remainder of the 2009-11 biennium. It turned out to be around $805 million and was filled during a special session of the legislature in February.

In addition to taking Sandoval’s 4 percent proposed salary cut Reid adds another 7.6 percent because Sandoval had said if his original deficit plan didn’t fill the gap he would make more salary reductions. The total of 11.6 percent in theoretical salary cuts, Reid says, amounts to 3,545 layoffs.

In addition to translating salary cuts into layoffs, Reid says Sandoval’s proposal to redirect $110 million from the Clark County School District class size reduction program amounts to another 1,635 layoffs. Reid also interpreted Sandoval’s plans to include layoffs for 770 higher education employees.

Sandoval spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner said he wouldn’t be responding to the new website.

But Sandoval has said in the past that Reid’s analysis is flawed because the teachers would likely come to the table for more negotiations rather than force budget cuts to be done by laying off employees.

During a public appearance last week in Las Vegas Sandoval responded to the accusation his plans for education and budget cuts would result in mass layoffs.

"The essence of my short term deficit plan was to avoid mass layoffs, so it sought an across the board salary reduction for all state employees to do just that, which is avoid mass layoffs," Sandoval said.

When asked specifically about teachers, who would need to agree to such a plan, Sandoval said: "It has already been done both here in Clark County and Washoe County. And the teachers accepted salary reducitons in lieu of mass layoffs. That is the essence of what my plan would do."

Statewide polls show Sandoval with an approximately 20 percentage point advantage over Reid among likely voters. Reid has accused Sandoval of dodging debates over education and other issues. Sandoval has said he will debate Reid, but hasn’t said when, how many debates he will participate in or what subjects they should cover.

On education, both candidates say they want to increase accountability and improve student achievement and both say they can do so without raising taxes — something the Nevada State Education Association says is unlikely to work. The NSEA, however, has endorsed Reid.

Sandoval short term deficit plan is here.

Sandoval’s education plan is here.

Reid’s education plan is here.

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