— from Brian Fadie, ProgressNow-Nevada
This week we’re talking about last week. That’s when the legislature did what it does best when faced with a politically tough decision: nothing.
Carson City lawmakers had 40 days to either accept or reject The Education Initiative – the tax reform plan brought before legislators after almost 150,000 Nevadans signed on – and in the end they did neither.
Now the initiative will be placed on the ballot in 2014 for the people to decide.
So what is The Education Initiative?
It’s a tax reform plan that would finally make big box stores and corporations pay their fair share to help fund our education system. A 2% tax would be levied on businesses that have revenue of over $1 million, generating an estimated $800 million for K-12 education in Nevada.
Nevada’s schools are not just an education issue; they’re an economic issue.
We’re never going to attract high-paying new industries if we don’t have a well-trained workforce. And high dropout rates end up costing the state huge sums in the long run (one study estimated each dropout costs $60,000 over their lifetime) for the additional services and other interactions with state agencies.
Again, because the legislature failed to act we know The Education Initiative will be on the ballot in 2014. That means the campaign to help it pass has already begun.
Lear more about The Education Initiative with TEI Fact Sheet.
And please take a moment to share this infographic on Facebook so friends and family get the facts about Nevada’s education system.
— by Adam Peck on Feb 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm
The achievement gap between school districts in high-income neighborhoods and those in low-income ones is already more canyon than crack, and if $1.7 trillion in automatic sequestration cuts are allowed to go into effect on March 1, that gap could grow even wider.
Dozens of education programs would face reduced funding, but three crucial programs — No Child Left Behind, Head Start initiatives, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act — provide the most assistance to low-income students and also face the sharpest cuts if the sequester is allowed to go into effect, as the Center for American Progress’ Juliana Herman and Kaitlin Pennington detailed in a new report:
Altogether, the sequester would cut approximately $725 million from Title I funding, potentially affecting 2,700 schools, impacting 1.2 million students, and placing 9,880 education staff at risk of losing their jobs. [...]
Head Start and Early Head Start—a similar program for infants—both work to ensure that parental income does not determine whether a child will be able to learn during these influential years. But should sequestration happen next week, approximately 70,000 children will be kicked out of Head Start due to inadequate funding. [...]
If sequestration goes through, funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Act could be reduced by as much as $579 million.
In all, the report estimates, the cuts would impact as many as 1.2 million children, 30,000 teachers and 2,700 schools, the overwhelming majority of which will be from low-income communities.
Recent studies have shown the devastating correlation between income and student achievement. Since the late 1980s, the gap in metrics like college completion between students from high-income and low-income households grew by more than 50 percent.
This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.
The President’s Commitment to Early Education
A zip code should never predetermine the quality of any child’s educational opportunities. Yet studies show that children from low-income families are less likely to have access to high-quality early education, and less likely to enter school prepared for success. By third grade, children from low-income families who are not reading at grade level are six times less likely to graduate from high school than students who are proficient. Often, the high costs of private preschool and lack of public programs also narrow options for middle-class families.
High-quality early childhood education provides the foundation for all children’s success in school and helps to reduce achievement gaps. Despite the individual and economic benefits of early education, our nation has lagged in its commitment to ensuring the provision of high quality public preschool in our children’s earliest years. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that the United States ranks 28th out of 38 countries for the share of four-year olds enrolled in early childhood education. And fewer than 3 in 10 four-year olds are enrolled in high-quality programs.
Preschool for All
- The President’s proposal will improve quality and expand access to preschool, through a cost sharing partnership with all 50 states, to extend federal funds to expand high-quality public preschool to reach all low- and moderate-income four-year olds from families at or below 200% of poverty. The U.S. Department of Education will allocate dollars to states based their share of four-year olds from low- and moderate-income families and funds would be distributed to local school districts and other partner providers to implement the program. The proposal would include an incentive for states to broaden participation in their public preschool program for additional middle-class families, which states may choose to reach and serve in a variety of ways, such as a sliding-scale arrangement.
- Funds will support states as they ensure that children are enrolled in high-quality programs. In order to access federal funding, states would be required to meet quality benchmarks that are linked to better outcomes for children, which include:
- State-level standards for early learning;
- Qualified teachers for all preschool classrooms; and
- A plan to implement comprehensive data and assessment systems.
- Preschool programs across the states would meet common and consistent standards for quality across all programs, including:
- Well-trained teachers, who are paid comparably to K-12 staff;
- Small class sizes and low adult to child ratios;
- A rigorous curriculum;
- Comprehensive health and related services; and
- Effective evaluation and review of programs.
- The proposal also encourages states to expand the availability of full-day kindergarten. Only 6 out of 10 of America’s kindergarten students have access to a full day of learning. In order to ensure that our kindergartners spend the time they need in school to reach rigorous benchmarks and standards, funds under this program may also be used to expand full-day kindergarten once states have provided preschool education to low- and moderate-income four year-olds.
- Under the President’s proposal, investment in the federal Head Start program will continue to grow. The President’s plan will maintain and build on current Head Start investments, to support a greater share of infants, toddlers, and three-year olds in America’s Head Start centers, while state preschool settings will serve a greater share of four-year olds.
Quality Early Learning for Our Youngest Children
- The President will also launch a new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership program, to support states and communities that expand the availability of Early Head Start and child care providers that can meet the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers, serving children from birth through age 3. Funds will be awarded through Early Head Start on a competitive basis to enhance and support early learning settings; provide new, full-day, comprehensive services that meet the needs of working families; and prepare children for the transition into preschool. This strategy – combined with an expansion of publicly funded preschool education for four-year olds – will ensure a cohesive and well-aligned system of early learning for children from birth to age five.
- The President is proposing to expand the Administration’s evidence-based home visiting initiative, through which states are implementing voluntary programs that provide nurses, social workers, and other professionals to meet with at-risk families in their homes and connect them to assistance that impacts a child’s health, development, and ability to learn. These programs have been critical in improving maternal and child health outcomes in the early years, leaving long-lasting, positive impacts on parenting skills; children’s cognitive, language, and social-emotional development; and school readiness. This will help ensure that our most vulnerable Americans are on track from birth, and that later educational investments rest upon a strong foundation.
Hello, I am Sen. Mo Denis, majority leader of the Nevada State Senate.
I appreciate the opportunity to give the response to Gov. Sandoval’s State of the State speech.
On behalf of Speaker (Marilyn) Kirkpatrick and myself, I wish to welcome the new members of the Nevada Legislature. This upcoming session will include one of the biggest changes to our Legislature in the history of our state.
We thank the new members for committing their skills and time to our citizen Legislature.
Additionally, we wish to thank Gov. Sandoval for his open-door policy as Speaker Kirkpatrick and I transition as the new leaders of the Nevada Legislature.
We agree with the governor on many issues, and we share his deep concern for the well-being of Nevada’s citizens. We are thankful for his integrity and commitment to working together to solve our problems.
This year we lost two stalwarts from our Legislature. Assemblywoman Gene Segerblom passed away recently, and earlier this year we lost Sen. Bill Raggio. I am humbled and honored to serve in his footsteps, and will work hard to continue Sen. Raggio’s legacy of fighting for Nevadans. We will miss Gene and Bill terribly.
I also want to take a moment to thank the many brave members of our Armed Services. I’m proud Nevada is home to so many world-class military institutions like Nellis Air Force Base and Fallon Naval Air Station. I also wish to thank the members of our Legislature who have served in our Armed Forces.
As Nevadans, we share a common desire to make our lives better for ourselves and for our families and neighbors. We have struggled together; yet continue to help one another, as we strive to achieve the American dream.
Like many of my fellow citizen legislators, I never planned on becoming a public servant. In fact, I am the son of Cuban immigrants who came to this great land of opportunity to better provide for their family.
My parents instilled in me a great love for this great country but also for this wonderful state. I serve because I feel a debt for all the marvelous blessings that have been given to my family and me.
As a father, I became involved in my community after my first child was born. My early involvement included working with the PTA, where I first met Speaker Kirkpatrick, who was also involved in the PTA.
We both had the opportunity to meet with parents, teachers and business leaders who wanted to make things better for our children; we wanted to help transform our education system. The biggest concern amongst parents then, as it is now, is the education of our children.
During the 2011 session, Gov. Sandoval proposed significant amounts of cuts to our schools. This year he is promising the world, but his policies won’t change our schools soon enough.
His plan fails at providing immediate relief to our middle-class families.
A quality education and paying their fair share are two of the biggest issues facing our middle class, and yet our schools are not providing the tools our children need to succeed and the middle class are asked to pay more than their fair share to support our state’s budget.
What’s worse, with very little new revenue, we don’t know how the governor plans to pay for these expenditures while cutting taxes. Let me be clear, the governor is proposing to cut taxes on 2,700 businesses in the state while raising the sales tax on middle-class families.
We disagree with this approach. It places more of the burden on middle-class families while giving businesses even more generous tax breaks.
Tonight, we also heard from the governor about the graduating class of 2023.
What about the graduating class of 2015?
Middle-class families need immediate relief, not long-term promises. The governor’s budget isn’t going to help kids like my son, who’s forced to sit in a crowded classroom, where his teacher is dividing her attention between 35 students.
Also, our schools need to be fully funded before we start subsidizing private schools.
While we agree with the governor that it is irresponsible to just throw money at our schools and hope for the best, we must make a bigger investment in our children’s futures by implementing educational policies and programs that have proven to improve students’ proficiency and graduation rates today and not just kick the can down the road for two more years.
Since 1990, our graduation rates have dropped 20.7 percent. Our students rank below the national average for proficiency in reading and math and below regional states.
We have seen tremendous gains in proficiencies over the last few years but we have a long way to go. Some students in Clark County high schools are sitting on the floor because of excessive class sizes.
Gov. Sandoval’s proposed “modest” increase in education spending from last year is not sufficient to make up the hundreds of millions of cuts that have been made over the last four years. This is unacceptable, not just to our current students but to the future of our state.
Democrats in the Assembly and Senate are proposing a series of policies that have proven to effectively improve our educational system. We are proposing the following:
1. Implement a pre-K system for all at-risk students.
2. Fund a full-day kindergarten in all public schools.
3. Smaller class sizes.
4. End social promotion before the third grade.
5. Change the K-12 funding formula.
These proposals are common-sense solutions that need to be implemented now and not phased in over several years. Our students, our families and our businesses have waited long enough.
We are committed to continuing to work with the governor and our colleagues in both houses and parties to build a better Nevada. It is the fair thing to do for our students and for our middle-class families.
Improving our schools is key to creating new jobs right in Nevada. All Nevadans win when our kids succeed. Schools are the incubators that will help bring the high-tech and biotech jobs of the future.
In 2011, the governor stated that he doesn’t believe it is government’s responsibility to create jobs. We agree, it is government’s responsibility to create an environment in which jobs and businesses flourish.
We are told that taxes are too high and thus, stifle job growth. I agree, taxes are too high on the middle-class and poor. Yet, other states in the Western United States have higher tax rates and have seen larger job growth.
Last year, Nevada created less than 20,000 new jobs.
By comparison, Utah created 41,000 jobs, California created almost 400,000, Arizona nearly 53,000 and almost 54,000 new jobs were created in Colorado.
Again, it goes back to education. Job creators see the quality of the schools in those states and have chosen to relocate there. To maintain our status quo and only invest a modest amount more in education is troubling, given what other states are doing.
Nevada will continue to fail its residents if we don’t compete in our investment in education and economic development. Too many Nevadans are still unemployed and too many homes are still being foreclosed upon.
Democrats and Republicans must move beyond political rhetoric aimed at winning the next election and instead think outside of the box in order to create more jobs and growth here in Nevada. We must work together to find solutions.
Better schools grow and bring better jobs. There is no getting around this fact. High-tech, engineering, computer science and biotech industries are the good-paying jobs of the future that require a world-class education, and there is no reason we should shrink from that challenge.
I join my colleagues in the Assembly in saying we must create short-term solutions and create a long-term vision for economic development in Nevada.
Our colleagues in the Assembly Democratic caucus released their jobs plan, “Nevada Jobs First,” and I will be working with them to pass these common-sense proposals, aimed at providing immediate relief to our working families.
• They have proposed giving contractor-bidding preferences as long as their materials and workers come from Nevada.
• We can also work to team up business with the state’s higher education system and invest in programs that train the types of workers our Economic Development office has determined we need.
While Nevada remains one of the great tourist destinations in the world, we can no longer expect to sustain a vibrant future by asking resorts to provide all the jobs and revenue for our state. It is irresponsible to do so.
A strong health care system also creates a good environment for job growth, and we applaud the governor’s decision to expand Medicaid in Nevada, under President (Barack) Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The Silver State Exchange will help improve the lives of the disadvantaged, and we commend the governor on his leadership in moving this forward.
We also need to ensure we have a dedicated public workforce — and while we applaud the governor’s proposed reductions in furloughs, it restores less than one-fourth of their pay and benefits. We can’t continue to ask our employees to do more with less, or else we risk our ability to recruit and retain our valuable public employees.
One of our greatest responsibilities as a society is to protect our most vulnerable.
Yet, the governor’s policies have been devastating to families with children with autism or mental and physical disabilities. Senior citizens have seen their services cut as well.
We cannot provide the services necessary for our vulnerable populations if we do not adequately fund social services.
Again, middle-class families were hurt by these cuts and will continue to suffer. Middle-class families rely on these social services to help their special-needs children, to help their parents as they age and to assist our veterans as they transition to civilian life.
Additionally, we must make a greater effort increasing our standard of ethics for political candidates and elected officials. We will work together with Republicans to create solutions and restore citizens’ trust in their government.
Tonight you have heard many ideas about what we would like to see done differently here in Nevada. Throughout the legislative session, Speaker Kirkpatrick and I will be introducing a series of proposals designed to “Build a Better Nevada.”
Our goal is to introduce common-sense solutions to our many problems. We hope the governor and our Republican colleagues can join us in supporting our policies of investing in education, economic development, funding of social services and ethics reform.
But we cannot implement these plans on the backs of the middle class.
Nor can we ask tourists and our resort industry to pay more for these investments.
We cannot ask our small businesses to stretch resources any further.
Tough choices will have to be made over the next several months and we hope our colleagues will forgo political rhetoric and support policies that move Nevada forward.
The Assembly and state Senate received a mandate this year from the public. The public is tired of the policies and politics of the past and want to see increased investment in our schools and new policies that promote economic development.
My family moved to Nevada when I was young because this was the land of opportunity. Anyone could move here and find a good job to provide for their family. Nevada became home to immigrants from other countries and also, from other parts of our great nation. Nevada became home to hundreds of thousands who wanted a new life.
We must continue to work toward making Nevada the state of opportunity. In the last decade, thousands flocked here in hopes of a better life and it is incumbent upon us to provide their families with the ability to achieve their dreams.
We must begin today toward building a better Nevada, so that our families and children can once again view this great state as a land of opportunity.
Thank you for your time and may God continue to bless the great state of Nevada.
Madam Speaker, Mr. President, distinguished members of the Legislature, honorable justices of the Supreme Court, constitutional officers, Sen. (Dean) Heller, honored guests …
My fellow Nevadans: For nearly 150 years, governors before me have stood in front of this body and delivered their State of the State address. The personal delivery of a biennial message has become one of our most honored traditions. I’m proud to be here tonight to continue this tradition, along with the first lady, Kathleen, and my children: James, Maddy and Marisa. Thank you for your love and support.
I want to take a moment and pause to remember two extraordinary Nevadans, both of whom I had the honor of serving with in the Nevada Legislature. First, Gene Segerblom, who devoted her entire life to the service of this state as a mother, schoolteacher and state legislator. Her son, Sen. Tick Segerblom, is with us tonight. Tick, Nevada will not soon forget your mother or her service.
Our friend Sen. William J. Raggio lived a legendary Nevada life and served in this building with honor and distinction for over four decades. His legacy is a stirring reminder for those of us in public service … there are no barriers to what can be accomplished if we summon the will to work together. I am particularly pleased that Bill’s wife Dale could be with us tonight.
Two years ago, we gathered in a different time, under different circumstances.
As I stood before you on that evening, our state was reeling from the ravages of the Great Recession.
Nevada led the nation in unemployment, housing foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. State revenue projections had dropped dramatically, and we faced budget cuts in every category.
That evening, I asked the Nevada family to embrace a fundamental course correction — to leave behind the limits of the past and consider the case of our state’s future anew. The challenges of the moment were too complex to resort to tired partisanship. Rather, they demanded that we resolve to work together to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
And we rose to the occasion.
In the final days of the 76th legislative session, we were able to work together to craft a bipartisan compromise that led to a balanced budget, important education reforms and a transformed economic development effort. These elements created the foundation of the progress of the last two years — progress that every Nevadan can be proud of. And while my last appearance before you was preceded by a period of decline, my appearance before you tonight has been preceded by a period of growth — yes, growth.
We are emerging from the worst economic crisis of our generation. And though it remains unacceptably high, our unemployment rate is lower than it has been in over three years, and it is falling faster than almost every other state in the nation.
And state revenues are growing again — because our economy is growing again. In the last 24 months, Nevada businesses have created almost 30,000 new jobs.
Yes, the last two years have been a success story, not fully realized, but undeniably on track.
Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I can confidently report to the people of Nevada that the state of our state grows stronger every day.
Now we stand at the threshold of another legislative session, another 120 days of decisions that will shape the future of our great state.
We must make some immediate decisions: a budget … and pressing issues of the day. But that is only part of the task before us.
Our greater challenge is helping a Nevada that is still on the horizon. It awaits us in the future.
Not too far off, but far enough that we must consider what we can be.
I want us tonight to contemplate a journey that takes us to that other Nevada. And I want us to agree that what we find there must be the best that it can be. And traveling with us on that journey will be the children whose faces you see on the screens behind me.
These children are all members of the graduating class of 2023. They’re second-graders today.
It is my hope that the faces of these children will inspire us as we consider both the short- and long-term realities of our state.
Two years ago, we began laying the foundation for improved education in Nevada — to win a critical victory for Nevada’s children. And we did.
We passed laws requiring performance-based evaluations for teachers, ending teacher tenure as we know it, and reinvigorating the state Board of Education. These historic reforms were essential changes necessary to ensure success for our children.
But structural reforms alone will not fix our problems. Responsibility for Nevada’s students does not rest with one single group. It is borne by each and every one of us — parents, educators, school board members, legislators and governors.
To advance the cause of students, we must now turn our eye to the classroom. I continue to believe that literacy is the key to long-term success. And so tonight, I again ask you to take the necessary steps to ensure that every Nevada child can read by grade three.
If children cannot read by third grade, their chances of graduating from high school become remote.
For pre-three students, I will propose increased funding for early education in the state’s most at-risk schools. And I will ask the Legislature to act quickly because Nevada’s students cannot wait another two years.
My budget therefore includes an aggressive expansion of all-day kindergarten among the state’s most at-risk schools.
$20 million is allocated over the biennium for this purpose. This means that by 2015, almost half of our elementary schools would have an all-day kindergarten option.
If we expect children to read by three, we cannot continue to ignore all of the data that tells us all-day kindergarten is a critical foundation for a child’s success.
My budget matches this focus on young learners with two initiatives targeting older students.
We all want the graduation rate to improve.
And we want students to have skills for work or college after they graduate.
One of the most successful programs in the country today is Teach for America — a unique corps of brilliant young leaders from America’s top universities, who give their time and talent as teachers in schools that need them most.
These teachers help spur innovation and creativity in instruction that makes the entire system better.
Teach for America has helped make a difference in the lives of hundreds of Nevada’s students.
But we can do more.
I am proposing a new investment in Teach for America to help recruit, train, develop and place top teacher and leadership talent in Nevada.
I am also asking that Nevada make a firm commitment to another national program with proven results. In the last year, I used available funding to pilot the Jobs for America’s Graduates initiative in seven Nevada schools.
JAG helps prevent dropouts by putting a specialist in the school to work with the most at-risk students.
The work continues even after the students graduate and transitions students from high school to college or a career.
It works in over 30 states, and it has worked here.
With me tonight in the hall is Dayton High School JAG student Joey Doyle and his JAG advisor, Nancy Gardner. Joey grew up in challenging circumstances that most of us can only imagine.
Despite these challenges, Joey made a conscious decision to turn his life around, and with the help of good friends, mentors and the JAG program, he is now a senior at Dayton High School on track to graduate. Joey is proud to be a member of the Dayton High school JAG Program, and Joey, we are proud of you.
My budget includes sufficient resources to fund the JAG program to include up to 50 additional high schools by 2014 and to serve nearly 2,000 additional high school students.
To all our current JAG students and specialists, thank you for setting an example across the state.
As we make these investments, we must also recognize how Nevada has changed: Our schools are more diverse. More than 15 percent of Nevada’s students are English language learners.
The Clark County School District alone is responsible for more than 50,000 English language learners, representing more than 150 languages. The challenges these students confront are wholly different from those faced by their peers, yet our obligation to them is no less important.
Reality dictates that we acknowledge that reading levels, graduation rates and college readiness will not improve until we appropriately focus on these students.
To lay the first plank in building a stronger foundation for these students, my budget proposes $14 million for an English language learners initiative.
I will continue to fight for more school choice. Many students attend schools that are not meeting their needs. We owe them and their parents additional choice as well as individualized instruction.
I will introduce an opportunity scholarship bill giving businesses a tax credit for making contributions to a scholarship fund. These dollars will be distributed, on a means-tested basis, to students at low-performing schools for use in attending the school of their choice.
All in, the proposed budget includes $135 million in new investment in Nevada’s schoolchildren.
As parents and taxpayers, we have a right to expect a return on that investment.
While Nevada’s teachers will be supported through the most effective professional development, elevated student performance requires an outstanding teacher in every classroom and an outstanding principal in every building. Nevada is on the cusp of implementing a system that will transform the way we evaluate our state’s teachers and administrators.
But we need to take the next step.
My budget includes an appropriation for a data system that links student performance to teacher effectiveness. This system is a long-term investment in what will be the backbone of our approach to teacher evaluation.
It will ensure that parents and students have the teachers they deserve and that teachers are evaluated fairly. I believe the future of Nevada’s students is bright.
We’ve already seen progress — not just in passing reforms, but in improving outcomes for students.
Last year, graduation rates in Clark County rose, third-graders in Washoe County posted their highest reading scores ever, and high school math and science performance across the state increased.
These are small steps, but they’re steps to build on — and we will. What we can never do, though, is fall backwards. My pledge to parents, students and educators is to always move ahead.
Of course, our efforts to improve education cannot focus only on the very young.
The Nevada System of Higher Education has been an important part of our state’s success since its founding. And it has become an even more important player in our economic development efforts.
I am pleased to have the chancellor both as a member of my Cabinet and as an active member of the State Economic Development Board. With the chancellor’s support, we are creating new courses of study at UNR and UNLV focused specifically on the sectors we are targeting for economic growth.
UNLV is working with my office of Economic Development to establish UNLV as the global intellectual hub for gaming, hospitality and entertainment. I am also proud to announce that funding is included in my proposed budget to begin the planning and construction of a new Hotel Administration School at UNLV and a student achievement center at UNR.
Our community colleges are also meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow. We are pairing the community colleges more closely with our workforce needs so that they can deliver students into jobs that will be waiting for them in the new economy.
And, perhaps most importantly for the lives of thousands of current Nevada high school students, my budget again contains an appropriation to support and extend the Kenny C. Guinn Millennium Scholarship through 2017.
I would like to take a moment to introduce former first lady Dema Guinn, who is with us tonight. Dema, I give you my solemn promise that as long as I am governor, there will always be the Millennium Scholarship.
A quality education is the foundation of economic growth — the key to improving quality of life in our state. However, the modern economy requires more than investment in education to broaden economic opportunity.
Economic development — getting Nevadans working again — has been my greatest priority. Over the last two years, we’ve completely overhauled the way Nevada approaches economic development.
We have worked as one — Democrat, Republican, independent; north and south; urban and rural — to improve the economic conditions facing Nevada families.
Two years ago, I promised that with a renewed focus and with your help, Nevada businesses would create 50,000 new jobs across Nevada in four years’ time. As I stated earlier, we are more than halfway there. Nevada’s employers have created nearly 30,000 new jobs in the last two years. And in October-November of 2012, Nevada’s job growth was the second strongest in the nation.
In addition to companies like Zappos, we are now seeing dozens of other companies coming to Nevada, like Apple, Urban Outfitters, Now Foods, Xtreme Green, Romotive and Ameriprise Financial. They bring with them capital investment and good-paying jobs with benefits.
Many other businesses are in the pipeline to start up or expand in Nevada thanks to the work of our state and regional economic development teams and the business environment we have created right here in our state.
We have made great progress — but our task is far from over. While we aggressively pursue new businesses outside our borders, we cannot forget the businesses that are right here in Nevada. We all know Nevada employers continue to struggle with the aftermath of the Great Recession. To assist their recovery, my budget provides $25 million in further tax relief from the modified business tax for an additional 2,700 businesses. That means that since 2011, we will have eliminated the burden of this tax on almost three-quarters of Nevada’s small businesses.
Let me be clear: Nevada’s employers cannot afford higher taxes, and I will not support them.
You and I know that we must continue to address the unemployment in our state, and we must deal with the economic realities thrust upon us. Too many of our friends and neighbors are still out of work, and at 10.8 percent, unemployment is still too high.
Against this backdrop, many programs have required modernization, and even the job description of governor has changed. I have led trade missions to China, Korea and Canada. And missions to Mexico and Israel are planned to expand Nevada’s global footprint. I am committed to leaving no stone unturned — no road not taken.
We must also invest in Nevada’s innovators and entrepreneurs. And tonight, I am proud to announce that we will commit $10 million to Nevada’s Knowledge Fund to do just that.
For rural Nevada, we have also placed an item in the budget to support the University Cooperative Extension program in rural Nevada, and we are moving forward on Nevada Grown, to provide Nevada farm products for Nevadans, and funds to market rural Nevada tourism are increased.
And we are moving forward with our sage-grouse management plan to show the federal government that we can manage our own lands and limit further federal intrusion into our lives.
We will also restructure the nearly $703 million Nevada owes to the federal government used to pay unemployment benefits to Nevadans who were out of work. This step will save employers $9 million, stabilize the rate paid by businesses and ensure that the entire amount is paid off by 2016.
We will also work on Project Neon, a major new highway project that will meet the most critical transportation needs of Southern Nevada. Project Neon is perhaps the largest public works project in Nevada since the construction of Hoover Dam. It will completely modernize the infrastructure of Southern Nevada’s transportation grid and ensure that our commute is safer and more efficient for decades to come.
Nevada must continue to lead in other ways, and no opportunity is as rich with promise as our primary industry, gaming. Nevada was the first state to legalize and regulate online gaming. In the absence of federal action on this issue, Nevada must continue to lead.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board will bring legislation to eliminate Nevada’s statutory barriers to interstate online poker and ask for authority to enter into interstate agreements. Nevada has always been the gold standard of both gaming regulation and operation, and I intend to see to it that our state will lead the world into this new frontier. Other states are moving quickly on this issue, and I ask you to pass a bill within 30 days.
The promise of these ideas is real. The chance to innovate is exciting.
But even as we work to modernize our economy and set a new course toward a brighter economic future, we must address the consequences of the prolonged economic downturn.
Last month, I announced that Nevada would comply with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act as they related to the expansion of Medicaid services. As a result, some 78,000 more Nevadans will now have coverage — without facing the new tax penalties imposed by the Affordable Care Act.
The federal law allows us to shift mental health and other state spending to Medicaid sources, saving the general fund nearly $25 million over the biennium. Over the next six years, this comprehensive approach will create up to 8,000 new health care jobs and inject over half a billion dollars into our state’s economy. And, as I’ve noted before, we must reduce taxes on businesses to help them bear the increased costs of the Affordable Care Act.
But, the issue of long-term health care costs remains. As such, I believe we must ask certain Medicaid patients to make a modest contribution toward the cost of their own care. And I will insist that Nevada be able to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion program in future years, should circumstances change.
Beyond Medicaid, my budget provides additional funding for our state’s most vulnerable citizens. It includes more support for autism and early intervention services, piloting 24/7 mental health care in Southern Nevada, and increased community-based services for Nevada’s disabled and senior citizens.
We have all been touched by the housing crisis over these last few years, and Nevadans continue to struggle with home foreclosures. Last year, thousands of Nevadans attended a free housing assistance event in Las Vegas, sponsored by our own Department of Business and Industry, called “Home Means Nevada.” At the comprehensive event, over 250 representatives from banks met with homeowners and provided help on the spot. While many Nevadans received assistance at the event, we must continue to do more.
Working with Attorney General (Catherine) Cortez Masto, my administration will use multistate settlement funds to assist Nevadans who have been hardest hit by the housing crisis. We are obligated as leaders to find ways to keep people in their homes and families together. And I will use every available means at my disposal to protect and help the people who fight every day to stay in their most important possession, their home.
The recession has hurt the entire Nevada family.
State employees have seen their pay cut and have been required to take unpaid furlough days. Tonight, I am announcing that we will be able to provide some relief to them as well. Merit pay will be restored for state employees beginning on July 1, 2014, and the number of required furlough days will be cut in half as of July 1 of this year.
There is another group that deserves our attention and respect — our veterans. The men and women who have served our nation in two wars are coming home. Tonight, I ask you to join me in remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who have not yet returned.
Over 300 Nevadans remain deployed with our Army and Air National Guard, and many more of Nevada’s finest are serving in uniform at home and abroad.
With us tonight is one Marine who recently returned home, a reminder of all those who remain deployed, Gunnery Sgt. Ben Stryffeler. I had the privilege of meeting Ben two years ago. Since then, we have twice chatted over breakfast about his life and military service. Ben graduated from Carson High School 17 years ago and immediately enlisted in the Marine Corps. Since then, he has served his country with dignity and honor, being deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan. Ben returned home from Afghanistan over a month ago, after serving alongside a weapons company that engaged in heavy combat. Gunnery Sgt. Stryffeler represents the best that we can be. Ben and all the men and women of the military deserve our heartfelt gratitude and respect.
Ben, if you would please stand and be recognized.
In honor of those who serve in the Armed Forces, my budget contains funding for additional veterans service officers. And it also includes money to begin the first phase to build a new, stand-alone veterans home in Northern Nevada, to complement the veterans home in Boulder City. These resources will help ensure that our service members receive the benefits they deserve. We owe the men and women who serve our country nothing less than total victory.
Ladies and gentlemen, by doing all of these things, we are laying the groundwork for the future of our children and their families. They are the foundation of my budget and will continue to be the primary focus of my administration.
My executive budget that will be transmitted to the Legislature tonight represents general fund spending of approximately $6.5 billions for the next two years — which is a modest increase over my last budget. Caseload growth in Health and Human Services drives much of this increase. My commitment to K-12 education has also increased spending for our schools. But we must only allow for growth that our fragile economic recovery can bear.
In this budget, we’ve reduced the tax burden on local businesses, we’ve addressed increasing caseloads and we’ve begun to diversify our economy. The social service net is stronger. Support for education is increased. And Nevadans will continue to benefit from the over-arching policy of this administration throughout this economic downturn — that is, we cannot cut our way out, we cannot tax our way out, we can only grow our way out.
And that is exactly what we are doing.
As Nevada prepares to celebrate 150 years of statehood, we must consider how far we have come and prepare for what lies ahead. 2014 is not just the anniversary of Nevada’s statehood. It also marks the centennial year of the approval of women’s suffrage in our state.
Nevada gave women the right to vote in 1914, five years before the rest of the nation adopted the 19th Amendment in 1919. It is my hope that the celebration of women’s suffrage and the commemoration of Nevada’s 150th birthday will provide a joint platform for examining who we are — and who we can be.
Nevadans are rightfully proud of their history. We are also cognizant of the world around us. And we are ever mindful of those students whose faces inspire us to plan big for a bright future.
Tonight, we can take pride in our progress.
The table has been set by economic improvements, and we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel. But problems persist, and they demand our attention.
Such is the current context in which I have come before you tonight to describe the budget and the policy agenda placed before the 77th session of the Legislature. It is a context of improvement, realism and yes, optimism. It is a context in which we are cast again in the role of problem-solvers. My plan represents the next phase of recovery and rebuilding.
Tonight, we prepare to embark on a legislative session that I hope will set an example of bipartisanship. Two years ago, we gathered in difficulty and confronted a time of triage. Then, we were consumed by the effort simply to stop the free fall. Tonight, we come together to further stabilize our state and lay a stronger foundation for its future.
From the vantage point of this new foundation, from the watershed moment of our 150th birthday, we can cast our gaze to the horizon — to the world we want for the graduating class of 2023: an educated and healthy citizenry, a vibrant and sustainable economy, safe and livable communities, and an efficient and responsive state government.
Each step we will take — indeed each of the many steps taken over the last two years — is coming together to reveal a map of promise and opportunity.
And I know in my heart it will guide us, not just where we want to go, but where we must.
I am proud to be your governor, and I am proud to call the state of Nevada my home. God bless you, God bless America and God bless the great state of Nevada.
The energy industry and Big Agribusiness are distorting academic research by wielding corporate influence.
— by Wenonah Hauter
In 1862, the federal government created the land-grant university system to produce critical agricultural research. Since then, America has relied on these schools to inform and guide independent scientific advances in areas like food production and energy development.
Yet public funding for that kind of research has eroded over recent decades, and these schools have turned to corporations to augment their budgets. The consequences of increasing dependence on profit-driven research in academia are becoming troublingly clear. The recent exposure of numerous sham scientific reports generated by biased individuals at supposedly objective institutions should draw intense public scrutiny to this new era of corporate-funded science.
While drug makers and other industries have spent heavily in academia for years, a relatively new player in corporate-influenced “research” is the natural gas business. Awareness has grown recently of the serious environmental and health dangers associated with fracking — the highly controversial drilling process that has opened up millions of acres of domestic land to shale gas production by blasting water and toxic chemicals underground at great pressures. In response, the industry has become extremely aggressive in its attempts to influence academic reporting on the subject.
The Dark Side of Corporate Research, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib
Consider the State University of New York at Buffalo and its now-defunct Shale Resources and Society Institute. In May, the institute released a report claiming that improving technologies and updated regulations were making fracking safe. But to SUNY Buffalo faculty, students, and community members, something smelled fishy. The nonprofit Public Accountability Initiative, based in Buffalo, scrutinized the report and did some additional digging. What it found was alarming.
Despite the report’s conclusion stating the contrary, an analysis of its data actually showed that gas fracking is causing more environmental contamination than ever. Even more telling, researchers determined that the report’s authors had all done previous work directly funded by the oil and gas industry, and that significant portions of the report had been copied directly from a previous industry-funded paper.
Under intense pressure from the university community, including the Board of Trustees, the institute that had released the skewed report was shut down by SUNY Buffalo’s president in November.
An isolated incident? No. The University of Texas at Austin announced on December 6 that the head of its Energy Institute had resigned over allegations of conflicts of interest, ethics violations, and industry influence regarding another pro-fracking study its institute had released in February. In the fallout, the university is currently updating its conflict-of-interest policies.
As for agriculture, corporate influence now appears to be routine. Beginning in 1982 with the Bayh-Dole Act, our land-grant schools have been encouraged to partner heavily with the private sector. By 2010, almost a quarter of all the grant money for agricultural research came from industry, with companies like Walmart, Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson Foods, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s receiving unencumbered access to and exerting great influence on many campuses nationwide.
The integrity of the “science” produced under this funding regime is troubling, but not surprising. The nutrition school at the University of California, Davis is researching the health benefits of chocolate with funding from the Mars candy corporation. A study supported by the National Soft Drink Association found that soda consumption by school children wasn’t linked to obesity. An Egg Nutrition Center-sponsored study determined that frequent egg consumption didn’t increase cholesterol levels.
More broadly, corporate funding steers agricultural research toward the goals of industry. It discourages independent analyses that might be critical of the many hormones used in industrial meat and poultry production, and genetically engineered crops that are now widely grown.
With the health and safety of our families and our communities hanging in the balance, it’s time to demand more transparency and less corporate influence from our research universities.
Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch. www.foodandwaterwatch.org Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)
Vote Tally: HRes 841 Yea 219 (R) /0(D) — Nay: 13(R) / 184 (D) — Not Voting: 8(R) / 7(D)
New Orleans Schools Reject Creationism: No Teacher ‘Shall Teach Any Aspect Of Religious Faith As Science’
— by Zack Beauchamp on Dec 19, 2012 at 11:49 am
A Louisiana school district voted on Wednesday to ban from its schools any textbooks and school curricula that follows the guidelines of Texas’ extreme, ideological standards.
Texas approved a hard-right curriculum in 2010 that taught utterly misleading assertions as fact — suggesting, for example, that Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch hunt had been vindicated and that the Crusades didn’t happen. But Orleans Parish (which covers New Orleans) schools were so worried about the spread of misinformation that it approved explicit rules in protest of Texas’s guidelines, requiring teachers to teach accurate historical and scientific information which wouldn’t necessarily be conveyed under Texas rules:
“No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the State of Texas revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories…No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach any aspect of religious faith as science or in a science class,” it reads. “No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes.”
Two years ago, proposed Texas textbook changes sparked outrage by rewriting history along right-wing lines and minimizing slavery. While not fully successful, the watered-down version still conveyed an entirely skewed vision of history. A recent review of the books, for example, found a consistent pattern of viciously negative portrayals of Muslims and Islam.
This material [article] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.