We put the state on life support for another two years
Gazette-Journal Guest Editorial / 7-17-2011
When asked about
the 2011 session, I say it was my honor to serve the people of Assembly
District 31. Significant progress was made to solve many of our problems,
but to me, we didn't accomplish enough meaningful progress concerning
We have known for decades that our tax base is too narrow, creating a
structurally unstable revenue system.
The budget agreement, made with the aid of a Nevada Supreme Court decision,
broke a deadlock, allowing both sides to kick the can down the road.
I reluctantly supported what amounts to a Band-Aid-on-a-bullet-wound budget
solution bringing Nevada no closer to a stable broad-based tax structure
than before the session began. We put the state on life support for another
This budget did nothing to ensure students can read at their grade level
by third grade, improve our state's high school graduation rate, help
our universities produce more high-quality workers to diversify our economy,
nothing that will help Nevada attract and retain good teachers, nothing
to safeguard the quality of life for our most vulnerable citizens and
nothing to maintain public safety and public infrastructure needed for
expansion in Nevada.
I feel disgusted when I hear my colleagues say with glee, we cut spending
by $500 million.
This was not excess or wasteful spending. Those cuts lowered wages for
state workers, increased class sizes, causing the layoff of hundreds of
teachers, reduced public safety, mental health, infrastructure and raised
tuition so thousands of Nevada students will be unable to afford college,
essentially lowering our quality of life, taking Nevada even lower than
A friend asked about taxes: "What are you supposed to do if you can't
get the votes?"
"You stand your ground."
"What does that mean?" they asked.
If diplomacy fails, you must be prepared for battle. Prepared to make
the sacrifices necessary to win what you know in your heart is in the
best interests of the people. Yes, many will suffer when the battle begins.
Many more will suffer for longer if we continue to lose to our fear of
Others are already talking about more concessions, cuts and reforms, saying
we are in the red zone ready to score.
Translation: They are willing to hold kids, seniors, social services,
college students, wage earners, virtually everyone and everything hostage
so they can union-bash, attack public workers and dismantle wage, safety
and consumer protections.
To get Nevada off life support, we might need to kick the plug out of
the wall in 2013. That might cause the voter outrage needed to shift the
focus back to helping Nevada; at least we will see if the people want
to die of a thousand (or 500 million) cuts or start down the path to recovery.
There is a place for compromise. However, when compromise yields the same
result as deadlock, you just get there slower, the choice of deadlock
vs. compromise becomes a personal test of character and resolve.
Richard "Skip" Daly is a Democratic member
of the Nevada Assembly representing Sparks District 31. He is the longtime
business manager of Laborers International Union Local 169.
Local 169 News / Legislature toughens road constuction workzone penalty
Local 169's website
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