Gibbons campaign: Let’s build one Nevada together

SUBMITTED CAMPAIGN LETTER

“This building [The Nevada Legislature] is full of difficult decisions and Gov. Gibbons’ participation has been instrumental in making these decisions reach the critical point of action” – Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki

Friends,

It’s hard to look around Nevada and not see the toll taken by the current economic crisis. With record unemployment, record home foreclosure rates and dramatically decreasing state revenues, last week I was forced to call the Nevada Legislature into a special session to deal with the nearly $900 million deficit facing the state. Many called it impossible. I was told countless times that the only way to fill this budget gap is to “expand the tax base.” Many were calling for increased taxes on business, insisting that they share the burden of the budget shortfall. But while everyone is suffering during these tough economic times, we can’t tax ourselves out of a situation of our own making.

The answer to these problems is the same one you and I make a daily basis. When our paycheck decreases, we have to decrease spending, so I submitted a budget for the Special Session which would reduce spending.

As the session opened, I submitted a budget that cut state spending by $850 million. After a week of negotiations and many late nights, we were able to reach and agreement which focused on spending cuts instead of more taxes. Instead of placing the burden of balancing our budget on taxpayers, fiscal responsibility has temporarily returned to state government.

The sad truth is this isn’t the end of Nevada’s budget struggles. A recession brought on by Washington politicians is a reality Nevadans have to live with. The next session of the Nevada Legslature will bring even greater challenges with an even greater budget shortfall being forecast already. I will continue to fight for fiscal responsibility and against the proposed tax increases which are still being proposed in Carson City.

I’m committed to continuing to building One Nevada and pushing back against those who expand the reach of government through taxes and government spending. There are many people claiming that they will unite our state and solve our economic recession, but none of them have taken the kind of bold action my administration has to ensure that this recession doesn’t get worse,and those on the other side of the aisle are already gearing up their efforts to promote new business taxes and more government spending on their pet projects.

I vetoed the 2009 tax increases. I called the 2010 special session and was able to get the spending cuts we needed to balance the budget. I have taken an 8% cut in my own pay and asked my staff to do the same. I understand the burdens this recession has placed on Nevada families, and I’m committed to fighting for Nevadans for another 4 years, but I need your help.

Nevadans need to know what is at risk in this election. Please join me in reaching out to voters and sharing with them importance having a strong leader in the governor’s mansion who understands the challenges we are all facing.

As Battle Born Nevadans, we need to stand together and oppose continuing efforts to increase taxes and spending. At this critical time, I need the help of every one of you who believes in our pledge to hold government back to join us in this re-election campaign. Please visit my website and volunteer to tell your community that you want strong leadership in Carson City.

Sincerely,

Jim Gibbons

Governor announces budget plan amendments to protect Nevada’s most vulnerable residents

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Jim Gibbons announced revisions to his budget balancing plan that will protect medically fragile Nevadans, the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, while still responsibly cutting state spending. Among the changes, the Governor has decided to reinstate adult day health care coverage in Medicaid. Also in Medicaid, the Governor decided to continue covering adult dentures, which were originally proposed for elimination.

“I was simply not comfortable eliminating adult day health care because of the tremendous impact it would have on the 388 families that rely on this service,” the governor said. “We were only able to identify alternative services for about half of these people, and leaving them with nowhere to turn was not an acceptable option.”

Continuing adult day health care will also likely prevent many of these individuals from ending up in nursing homes, which ultimately would have cost the state more money. The same is true for the governor’s decision to continue coverage of dentures.

“Proper nutrition is essential for seniors to continue living independently, and without dentures its likely people’s health would deteriorate rapidly,” Gibbons said.

Among the other major changes to the governor’s budget proposal was reestablishing some housing assistance for Nevadans with developmental disabilities and those suffering from mental illness. Under Gibbons’ revised proposal, the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services will be able to maintain existing housing supports for the developmentally disabled while adding 120 placements in Southern Nevada and 64 placements in Northern Nevada. On the mental health side, the change will allow the division to add 85 residential support placements in southern Nevada, which is the area of greatest need.

“These were recommendations made by the Department of Health and Human Services to reach a budget cut target,” Gibbons said. “Unfortunately to meet that target, we had to look at cutting services to those who are most vulnerable. We need to maintain these services.”

Other changes include reinstating funds for transitional rehabilitation services for people with brain injuries and community corrections services for juveniles that keep them out of institutions. One reason these adjustments can be made is due to a reduction in how much the state must pay the federal government for prescription drugs Nevadans receive that are paid for by Medicare, but were previously funded by the state’s Medicaid program, otherwise known as the Medicare “clawback.” This change will save the state $16.3 million.

Governor unveils education gift certificate

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Jim Gibbons today unveiled the Education Gift Certificate program, which he first announced during his State of the State address on Feb. 8, 2010.

“These are hard times for all of us. The Education Gift Certificate is for anyone who wants to be able to help teachers by contributing directly to their salaries,” Gibbons said. “No administrative costs come from your contribution, and funds will be put directly into teacher salaries.”

To get an Education Gift Certificate, simply visit any DMV office or download one from the home page of the State of Nevada web site, http://nv.gov, or the governor’s Web site, http://gov.state.nv.us.

Education Gift Certificates are sent directly to the Nevada Department of Education and deposited into the Education Gift Fund established in Nevada Revised Statutes 385.095, and will not be used for any purpose other than funding teacher salaries.

Education comprises 54 percent of Nevada’s General Fund budget. For K-12 education, reports indicate as much as 85 percent of school district funds to teacher salaries.

“While many Nevadans are struggling to make ends meet, there are some Nevadans who can afford to help Nevada by helping our education system,” Gibbons said. “I hope those who can afford to contribute will step forward and be a part of the solution by helping our hardworking teachers.”

Governor stands by budget proposals for special session

Gov Jim Gibbons head shot

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Jim Gibbons today responded to politicians and media reports criticizing his budget solutions rather than recognizing that through “some collaboration and a lot of hard work this administration has been able to balance the budget for this biennium. This criticism does not recognize that this problem is fixable and I have presented a plan to fix it. If anyone else has any ideas on how to fix it, I am listening.”

Yesterday, Gibbons signed the proclamation to hold a special session of the Nevada Legislature next week. Gibbons is proposing closing loopholes in the tax structure for the mining industry to limit the number of deductions they can take when calculating their taxes. Gibbons has also proposed closing a loophole to make sure Nevada businesses who sell products online pay sales taxes, just like regular businesses in Nevada stores and malls.

“What citizen in this state gets to subtract deductions from their property taxes? We are closing loopholes so the mining industry pays its fair share, just like all other major businesses in Nevada,” Gibbons said.

“I do not view these proposals as tax increases,” Gibbons said. “It is a fairness issue to make sure no business gets special treatment.”

Gibbons reminded everyone about the 2009 legislative session raising the sales tax and the payroll tax. “Unlike my proposals, those are clearly tax hikes,” Gibbons added. “My staff continues to work with state departments to seek a 15 percent reduction in all contracts, remove the 5 percent add-ons to salaries, freeze hiring and implement other cost saving measures to get Nevada through this fiscal crisis.”

Transcript of governor’s State of the State address

Gov Jim Gibbons head shot

Hello, I’m Governor Jim Gibbons. I am always honored to speak directly to you. But the truth is, I would rather that the circumstances did not compel me to address you tonight.

The great inventor and statesman Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” This insight means a lot to me. My staff has been hard at work reviewing the state budget, the services our state government provides and the dramatic shortfall in state revenues. We are working on solutions to turn this recession into an opportunity to reinvent our State’s government. We may never have an opportunity like this again. The dire economic situation we are facing now requires immediate action.

While there is some evidence to suggest that our nation is approaching the end of this economic decline, the fact is, this recession still has a crippling hold on Nevada. Nevada’s unemployment rate is 13 percent. That’s the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. More than 140,000 Nevadans have lost their jobs, and 90,000 more are projected to join the unemployment rolls over the next 18 months. Recent data shows a 4.6 percent drop in personal income for our residents.

For almost all Nevadans, their greatest asset is their home. Home values in Nevada plummeted 24.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009. That’s the steepest decline of any state and more than 6 times the national average. Nevadans are losing their homes to foreclosure at a rate that is four times the national average.
These are just a few of the economic indicators showing the devastating impact Nevadans suffer each day. But you and I don’t need statistics to understand the pain. Each of us knows someone who has recently lost a job. Each of us knows a family who has lost their home because they couldn’t pay their mortgage. All across this state tonight families are sitting at their kitchen table talking about what they can and cannot afford. All across the state tonight, small business owners are making tough decisions, such as choosing between cutting benefits or keeping loyal employees.

As your Governor, my job is no different than that of your family or your business. You have your checkbook in one hand and your bills in the other, and you do your best to make ends meet. Nevada’s General Fund revenues – money which we use to pay for important services like education, public health and law enforcement – dropped 17 percent in 2009. Between now and June 2011, the state General fund will fall about $1 billion short of its $6 billion budget. Just like Nevada’s families, just like Nevada’s businesses – it is time for Nevada government to face facts and make tough choices about the services we can and cannot afford.

This unprecedented economic situation is a crisis. Therefore, I will be issuing a proclamation convening a Special Session of the Nevada Legislature on February 23. This is not a responsibility I take lightly, this is an extraordinary time and we must take action.

This is not the first battle Nevada has faced. In fact, from our humble beginnings Nevadans have always beaten the odds. The first Nevadans survived overwhelming hardships to move west and seize the privilege of being the first to say “Home Means Nevada.” Our State joined the Union in the middle of the bloodiest war ever endured on American soil – the Civil War. Over the last 145 years, the independent spirit of Nevada has led us from tragedy to triumph time and time again. We are survivors. There is a reason our state flag says Battle Born. Our state, our people do not back down from a challenge. Neither will I.

In 2007, Nevada’s economy began a downturn which I knew was not temporary. The Executive Budget I prepared in January of 2009 scaled back state government to weather this crisis. More importantly, the balanced budget I submitted imposed no new taxes and allowed no expansion of state government. The Nevada Legislature disregarded my solution. They raised taxes one-billion dollars, and they made government bigger. They made the wrong call. I vetoed their new taxes and their inflated spending. I thought it was wrong then. I KNOW it’s wrong now. I planned responsibly. They gambled on new taxes and we all lost.
Despite the Legislature’s new taxes, our state revenues continue going down. More taxes have not helped Nevada’s economy. They never will. Even with $1 billion in new taxes, the state budget is now nearly $1-billion short. You tell me, did raising taxes work? NO.

Now, the State of Nevada MUST reduce spending by nearly $900-million. I recently released dozens of proposals to get our budget back on track. I’d like to talk about a few of them with you tonight.

*Last year I recommended 6% salary reductions for all state workers. The Legislature imposed furlough days instead. The furlough program is not working. It is unfair because some state workers have pay reductions and some don’t. As we work through this budget, we will look for EVERY WAY TO SAVE MONEY. Many private businesses across the state have cut salaries in order to reduce layoffs or stay in business. New across-the-board salary reductions for state workers, may be necessary, but that will be a last resort. And just so you know, my entire staff in the Governor’s Office has had their pay cut 6 percent. I am donating 6% of my own salary back to the state to be used for special awards for exceptional teachers.

*It is with deep sadness and disappointment that I must propose laying off several hundred state workers. Just like the layoffs in the private sector, state government must do the same. My heart is heavy about this because these are hard-working public servants who will have their lives severely impacted. We are doing everything possible to absorb people into other positions helping in our state safety-net of programs assisting those in need, but some layoffs are inevitable.

*The Nevada State Prison in Carson City is 140 years old. It has outlived is usefulness. It is no longer safe and its operating costs are far too high. I am proposing closing the Prison and moving the inmates to other facilities in the state.

*Unfortunately, the gravity of our situation is so dire, we will have to make reductions to some healthcare programs. We are trying to combine programs that duplicate health services and we are making every effort to minimize the impacts of these reductions. I will protect programs that protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

*I am also introducing the Education Gift Certificate. These will be available at many state facilities, like the DMV, or you’ll be able to download one off my website. You can use the gift certificate to donate money to a non-profit organization that will make sure your money is spent ONLY on teachers’ salaries. For those of you who can afford to help our teachers, I encourage you do it.

*I have had the honor of serving Nevada in both our Legislature and in the United States Congress. When I ran for Governor in 2006, I traveled across Nevada and spoke with many of you. I made you a promise. I guaranteed you I would not raise your taxes. Unfortunately, in the politics of today, such promises are a dime a dozen. But mine is not just a promise, it is a principle.

In this tough economy, we cannot ask our citizens to pay new taxes. They have nothing left to give. We cannot ask our businesses to pay more taxes. Many of them are struggling just to stay open. The only thing we can do – the right thing to do – is what you did at your kitchen table tonight. We must cut our state spending. We must reduce the size of state government. “No New Taxes” is NOT a cliché. To me it means more than that. It is a plan.

A plan that means limiting government to its core functions. It means recognizing that businesses do not exist solely for the purpose of funding government programs. It means that people are entitled to keep the money they earn and do not have to forfeit those earnings to some bureaucrat who decides that you are not spending your money correctly. I have kept my word. I reaffirm my word to you tonight. As long as I serve as your Governor, I will not raise taxes.

As President Ronald Reagan once said, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear.”

Just as Nevada’s real estate market inflated in value to an unsustainable level, so has our state government. Nevada’s tax base, Nevada’s population and Nevada’s job market can no longer pay for the bloated government services which were funded when Nevada’s economy was booming. More government spending and more government mandates are never the answer. With 13 percent of our citizens unemployed, Nevada cannot continue to fund government as we know it today. Society is changing. State government must change with it. We must focus on the important services which ensure life, health, education and public safety. We will have to eliminate programs and services which make some people feel good, but which we simply can no longer afford. We must cut government spending to ease the burden on our citizens and our businesses.

Despite the promise of economic recovery through the federal stimulus package, Washington has failed to help Nevada. Nevada ranks near the bottom of per capita federal spending, and we rank dead last in per capita stimulus funds. Although there is a perception that Nevada has clout with this Administration, Washington has turned a deaf ear to our problems.

As your Governor, I wake up every morning determined to get Nevadans off the unemployment lines and back into their homes. We can’t rely on Washington, D.C. to lead us out of this crisis. We can’t lean on county and city governments. They are struggling with their own revenue shortfalls. No government, alone, can lead us out of this crisis. Our people will. Our businesses will. Our independent spirit will. Nevadans will solve Nevada’s problems.

One of the most important roles state government plays today is in economic development. Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki, state and local officials and my staff are working tirelessly to bring new businesses to Nevada to create good-paying jobs for our hardworking families. We are looking not only to expand our manufacturing base, but also to bring new green energy jobs to Nevada.

In addition to building facilities to generate solar, wind and geothermal power, we are also working to establish research and development facilities for newer, better green technologies. This will not only help our environment, it will create new, long-term jobs in Nevada.

More new jobs and green jobs will come with the establishment of Nevada as the recycling capital of the west. Technology exists today to convert 75 percent of all waste collected into recycled materials for construction and agricultural use. New recycling facilities will create jobs and generate clean energy. Right now, we are working with Carson City officials to make their community the first pilot project for this technology. When we launch this program statewide, we will eliminate landfills as we know them today and stop Nevada from becoming the dumping ground for California’s trash.

Creating jobs and attracting tourists to Nevada are two of my top priorities. I have ordered the Nevada Commission on Tourism to present me a report within 30 days with their ideas and plans to get more visitors to come to Nevada. This will take quick and creative thinking to get results, but it is time for quick and creative action that gets results.

Also, I have ordered the Nevada Commission on Economic Development to present me with a report within 30 days with their ideas, plans and projects presently in the pipeline to encourage companies to locate or re-locate in Nevada…or encourage existing Nevada businesses to expand.

I want you to know, that nearly every day, I meet with business owners in Nevada to see what I can do as Governor to get them to expand their businesses here and create new jobs. We MUST take advantage of the tourism, convention, and construction infrastructure we already have in place in Nevada.
A core function of Nevada state government is education. Our K-12 schools and the Nevada System of Higher Education make up 54% of all General Fund spending. But we can’t solve a $1 billion hole in a $6 billion budget if half of that budget is off the table.

In 2004 I co-authored the Education First Initiative, to require legislators to fund education first and to prevent them from holding education hostage in budget negotiations. As a graduate of Nevada public schools, I am firmly committed to improving K-12 education in Nevada. Our education system is the intellectual infrastructure for Nevada’s future. Improvement will require new ideas and fresh resolve. It’s time to stop whining that education in Nevada doesn’t work because of a lack of funding. We need to quit throwing money at programs that haven’t worked and don’t work for our children.

In early January I unveiled the Gibbons Education Reform plan. My plan calls for parents, teachers and communities to be responsible for their local schools and in control of their children’s education. Bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C. and Carson City, whose ideas of education reform start and end with writing a blank check, have no business dictating how your child is educated. We need to empower local school boards and parents to make decisions which are right for their children so they can decide how their kids are educated. Nevada taxpayers spend billions of dollars on education. It’s time to let local school boards, teachers, and parents have a voice in how that money is spent.

The cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to public education has had its time and proven that it doesn’t work anymore. What works in Las Vegas, may not work in Winnemucca or Tonopah. A good idea in Elko may not make any sense in Sparks or Mesquite.

Despite 20 years of state imposed student-teacher ratios in first, second and third grade, student achievement in Nevada has not improved. The Nevada Department of Education recently announced 142 of the 613 public schools in Nevada qualify as the “worst” schools in the nation. That means 23 percent of our public schools are failing.

I WILL NOT accept that. If 142 of our schools are not making the grade, what we are doing doesn’t work. Throwing more money at this system won’t change anything. Continuing to allow unions to dictate Nevada’s education policy doesn’t work. We need true reform. We need change. We need to rethink how we deliver public education in Nevada. We need to make better use of existing resources. We need to empower local school boards to use their money to deliver the right programs to our kids to achieve the best results. Programs like class size reduction and full-day kindergarten are based on good intentions, but programs cannot be judged on their intentions. They must be judged on their results.

Under my Education Reform plan, these programs will not be eliminated, only the mandate from Carson City will. If a local school board decides a program works for their kids, they can do it. And they will have the flexibility to do it, not because the government tells them, but because they decide it is best for their students.

For the past 25 years, Nevada schools struggled with increasing enrollment. Fundamental issues like having classrooms for students and scrambling to get desks and textbooks became the issues of the day. In the current school year, student population has dropped. We now have a golden opportunity to catch our breath and rethink how we can best provide education to our children. I request the Nevada Legislature give my Education Reform plan a fair hearing in the upcoming Special Session.

The economic crisis we face cannot be fixed with gimmicks or gadgets or temporary patches. The problem IS our system. We MUST find a permanent solution. We must commit to a fundamental evaluation of what problems require government intervention and what problems we must fix ourselves. We must accept that limiting government means expanding personal responsibility. Nevada state government cannot afford to be all things to all people. I am asking state employees to do more with less. I am asking our teachers to do more with less. I am asking our Legislators and Constitutional Officers to do more with less. I am demanding our programs work or be eliminated. And I will ask our citizens to accept less from government and to take more personal responsibility. Government must make sacrifices, just like your family and just like our businesses. There are no easy answers. Anything easy has already been done. We have to make hard choices, and we need your support.

I am up to this challenge. I will never surrender. I am not a quitter.

I have already released many of my recommendations to reduce state spending and I will continue to release specific facts, details and plans to solve the immediate fiscal crisis. My staff continues to work to develop a long-term, sustainable plan to reduce the size of state government and the services we offer so that our revenue will support the government services Nevadans truly need.

We are in the middle of the greatest economic crisis of our generation. It won’t last forever and there will be a recovery. Not tomorrow. Not next week. And things may get worse before they get better. But we will survive. We will overcome. And we will emerge with a state government that is leaner and smarter. A state government that works FOR us, not AGAINST us.

I am convinced better days and brighter futures are ahead for all of us.

Together we’ll pull through this. We share the same spirit. We are Battle Born. We are One Nevada.
God Bless our great nation, God Bless our troops, and God Bless OUR great State of Nevada. Thank you and good night.

Gov. Gibbons recommends 10 percent cuts to state agencies and education, lawmakers say no deal done yet

by Sean Whaley
Nevada News Bureau

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford said today that dozens of cuts proposed by Gov. Jim Gibbons to help erase an $881 million budget shortfall are ideas only, at least for now.

“There is no plan in place at this point,” said Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “We’ve been given a list of ideas from the governor’s office and that’s all they are, ideas.”

Gibbons’ proposed 10 percent cuts would generate $418 million in savings, less than half the total shortfall. No solutions have been presented yet on how to fill the remainder of the gap. The cuts would require 235 layoffs in state agencies, with 136 of those coming from the closure of the Nevada State Prison in the capital.

Horsford said hearings this week and next will give lawmakers the information they need to come up with a final plan to balance the budget during a special session expected later this month or in early March.

Lawmakers of both parties and from both houses said before the start of the hearings that the challenge of balancing the budget requires cooperation by everyone. That cooperation has been in evidence with Gibbons and his staff, lawmakers said.

Those hearings got off to a tough start however, when Jim Wells, deputy superintendent of the Nevada Department of Education, said his office believes the public school system will need $44 million more in state support than was forecast by the Economic Forum last month. That would make the shortfall $925 million.

“You’re trying to get us over the $900 million mark,” said Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno.

Wells said one idea under consideration for public education to meet the 10 percent, $167 million budget reduction target would be eliminating one day of the 180-day school year, which would save approximately $13 million. It would require a change to state law, he said.

Raggio said if such a cut were made, it should be a non-instructional day where teachers spend the day in staff development.

Walt Rulffes, superintendent of the Clark County School District, said increasing class sizes by one student in grades one through 12 would mean the elimination of 400 teaching positions and result in $26.5 million in savings in his district.

Dealing with the budget cut in the district entirely by increasing class sizes would require an expansion of every class by six students and mean the elimination of 2,322 teaching positions for a savings of $159 million, he told lawmakers.

To achieve the cut by reducing the school year, 17 days would have to be cut, Rulffes said.

“I think it’s graphic from that that there isn’t a single fix to this, it is going to have to be a combination of items,” he said.

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, asked if any of these proposals could occur this year, or if the bargaining agreements with teachers are inviolable.

Rulffes said his proposals are aimed at next year because agreements with teachers are closed this year. Both sides would have to agree to reopen the agreements to modify them, he said.

Not all of the $418 million in savings proposed by Gibbons involves cuts. Included in the dozens of proposals is taking nearly $9 million from the low-level radioactive waste fund, which is used for monitoring and mitigation. Also proposed is a fee increase to fully cover the costs of the Nevada State Health Division to inspect and permit licensed facilities, which would generate $550,000 in new revenue. A $1.8 million “problem gambling” fund would also be diverted to cover the shortfall.

Also proposed is an increase in the premium paid by low-income families to enroll in the Nevada Check Up health insurance program, from $25 a quarter to $75 a quarter for the lowest income families. Families with higher incomes would see premium increases as well. About $1.1 million would be generated from the increases.

Another recommendation is closing the Summit View Youth Correctional Center in Las Vegas effective March 1 for a savings of $3.7 million. About 30 layoffs would occur. The inmates would be moved to other youth facilities in Elko or Caliente or would participate in an early release program.

And while Gibbons pledged not to raid local government funds, his plan does include a 10 percent reduction in support to Washoe and Clark counties for child welfare programs for a savings of $8.1 million.

One of the proposed layoffs has a more personal connection to Gibbons. His plan proposes to eliminate the position of assistant to the First Lady since there will be no First Lady because of his recent divorce from Dawn Gibbons.

Nevada State Democratic Party responds to governor’s education plan

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

Gibbons education ‘plan’ disgraceful, like his administration

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – In his latest fund-raising pitch, Gov. Jim Gibbons reveals his so-called “plan” for Nevada education: cut teacher pay, gut funding for crucial programs and privatize the system.

After Nevada legislators fought to preserve education from Gibbons’ budget ax in 2009, the governor is at it again, attacking one of our most crucial programs, and in a fundraising email no less. The governor’s plan resorts to more of the same tired Republican proposals for school vouchers and elimination of collective bargaining.

And the governor goes further – proposing to eliminate the elected State Board of Education and replace it with a “five member advisory board (and a) State Superintendent of Education (who) would be hired by, serve at the pleasure of, and report to the Governor.”

“If there’s one thing this state doesn’t need, it’s a governor prone to using a hacksaw rather than a scalpel when it comes time to make difficult cuts in charge of our children’s education,” said Phoebe Sweet, communications director for the Nevada State Democratic Party. “This plan – if you can even call it that – is just another blatant, partisan power play by a failed governor seeking to pander to his base. But Democrats in this state will not stop standing up for the future of education in Nevada.”

* To read Gov. Gibbons’ campaign letter regarding education, click here.

Las Vegas, NV. – In his latest fundraising pitch, Gov. Jim Gibbons reveals his so-called “plan” for Nevada education: cut teacher pay, gut funding for crucial programs and privatize the system.

After Nevada legislators fought to preserve education from Gibbons’ budget ax in 2009, the governor is at it again, attacking one of our most crucial programs, and in a fundraising email no less. The governor’s plan resorts to more of the same tired Republican proposals for school vouchers and elimination of collective bargaining.

And the governor goes further – proposing to eliminate the elected State Board of Education and replace it with a “five member advisory board (and a) State Superintendent of Education (who) would be hired by, serve at the pleasure of, and report to the Governor.”

“If there’s one thing this state doesn’t need, it’s a governor prone to using a hacksaw rather than a scalpel when it comes time to make difficult cuts in charge of our children’s education,” said Phoebe Sweet, communications director for the Nevada State Democratic Party. “This plan – if you can even call it that – is just another blatant, partisan power play by a failed governor seeking to pander to his base. But Democrats in this state will not stop standing up for the future of education in Nevada.”

Governor addresses education ‘overhaul’ in campaign letter to supporters

Gov Jim Gibbons head shot

SUBMITTED CAMPAIGN LETTER

As a long time supporter of Nevada schools and students, you are a vital part of the effort to improve the failing education system in our great state.  I am writing to tell you how much your dedication means to me, and to ask for your support in stepping onto a bold, new path.

It is time to break the cycle of hearings, studies, reports, and committees to report on the studies.  It is time to implement real change. It is time for new ideas and fresh resolve.

We must rethink the historic pattern of imposing special earmarks from Carson City and legislatively mandated expenditures on our school districts.

The manner in which education is delivered to children should not be dictated by unions. Parents, teachers, communities, and teams of dedicated administrators and staff are the key to student success.  These education leaders should not have to answer to the coercive power of teacher unions that are not working in the best interests of our children.

We need to recognize that it is possible to both save money and enhance student performance.

My plan to overhaul the education system begins with these steps:

  • Adopt a statewide voucher system, give parents choice and control, and give school districts more power over the way their funding is allocated.
  • Allow more flexibility in school structure and planning by eliminating local government and school district collective bargaining. This will return control of the education system to parents, students, and school boards in the local communities.
  • Eliminate the elected state Board of Education and replace it with a five member advisory board.  The State Superintendent of Education would be hired by, serve at the pleasure of, and report to the Governor.
  • Streamline K-12 school funding and create empowerment school districts, letting school districts decide where to best put those resources based on their student populations.

Teachers and parents all across Nevada have contacted me and applauded our efforts to find new solutions to old problems.  We can work together with innovation and determination to make Nevada schools a model for the future!

My friend, please join me in the fight to give Nevada’s children the educational opportunities they deserve by breaking away from old, worn out strategies that have not delivered satisfactory student achievement.  I need your help to move this fight forward!

Sincerely,

Jim Gibbons

Nevada Governor

Every option under discussion as governor, lawmakers seek budget solutions

SUBMITTED BY SEAN WHALEY, NEVADA NEWS BUREAU

CARSON CITY – When budget cuts come to higher education and the public school system to help balance a state spending plan that is $1 billion out of balance, those decisions should be made by the Board of Regents and local school officials, two members of Gov. Jim Gibbons cabinet said today.

Deputy Chief of Staff Stacy Woodbury said proposals to close the Nevada State College at Henderson or implement other program changes at the Nevada System of Higher Education will have to be made by the Board of Regents.

What Gibbons and the Legislature must do is set the reduced level of funding available to higher education and let regents decide how to meet the new financial target, she said.

Deputy Chief of Staff Lynn Hettrick said the state is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $1 billion, and that major cuts in programs will be needed. Suggestions from lawmakers that the dollar amount will equate to a 22 percent cut in programs may be “a bit” high, he said.

“I hope it doesn’t go to 22 percent,” Hettrick said.

Both Woodbury and Hettrick made their comments in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

In a telephone interview, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said legislative fiscal staff are saying the cuts required are in the $900 million range, and that if cuts were implemented with a March 1 start date, the effect would be a 22 percent cut. That is not to say cuts of 22 percent will be implemented, but it shows the severity of the problem, she said.

In what she called a collegial meeting between lawmakers and Gibbons on Tuesday, there were preliminary efforts to reach consensus on what cuts could be made, Buckley said. There are few alternatives to cuts available, but “sweeping” every bank account in state government could potentially bring some relief. If $100 million could be identified in this process, it would help reduce the level of cuts required, she said.

Buckley called the state’s predicament, “unbelievably dire.”

Both Woodbury and Hettrick said during the interview that Gibbons also wants to give local school boards and parents the ability to decide how to implement any cuts that will have to be made to the public school system.

Gibbons has proposed eliminating a state mandate for all-day kindergarten and class-size reduction in the lower elementary grades so that school districts can decide which programs to fund, Woodbury said.

Hettrick said eliminating the mandates would empower the local school districts.

Woodbury also said Gibbons is not at this point proposing to shift the cost of any state programs to local governments, or seek additional funding for the state budget shortfall from counties and cities.

“They can’t bear it any more than we can,” Woodbury said.

Gibbons has proposed eliminating the requirement for collective bargaining between local governments and school districts and their employees to give them more flexibility in dealing with salaries and their own budget issues, she said.

Woodbury said the state must also consider opting out of federally mandated programs, including Medicaid. The program as it now exists is unsustainable whether new recipients are added to the rolls under a national health care insurance bill or not, she said.

Hettrick said Gibbons wants to minimize layoffs, since those employees would tap into the already severely strained unemployment compensation program.

Buckley said talk of layoffs at this point is premature.

Governor will deliver State of the State message

Gov Jim Gibbons head shot

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

Will discuss Nevada’s budget crisis and call for special legislative session

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Gov. Jim Gibbons today announced he will deliver a special State of the State message on Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, at 6 p.m. Gibbons will discuss Nevada’s budget crisis and will call for a special session of the Nevada Legislature as a result of the extraordinary crisis. “Nevada citizens are suffering because of higher taxes and the sluggish economy,” Gibbons said. “Citizens deserve to be informed and be a part of the solution to the problems our state is facing.”

Meetings and discussions are being held to determine what legislation will be considered during the special session. Everything from reduced operating hours at certain government agencies, to education reform, to creating new revenue from waste recycling programs, and more are being considered. Pursuant to the Constitution, the governor determines what issues the legislature can consider during a special session.

Gibbons has been holding regular meetings with legislators to share ideas with them to help the state and Nevada citizens during these unprecedented economic times. “Just like families all across Nevada suffering to make ends meet, state government must live within its means,” Gibbons said. “It is irresponsible to spend money we don’t have, the state simply must reduce spending.” Gibbons added that, “The time for legislative hearings and other delays has long since past, it is time for decisive action and that is what I plan to do.”

Gibbons also pledged to face Nevada’s economic troubles head-on. “I have never surrendered and I have never been a quitter,” he said. “These challenges are not going away, we must deal with them for the good of every Nevada citizen.”