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Educators rally for new revenue sources

By Jeri Chadwell
Educators rally outside the Nevada Legislature wearing "Red for Revenue" on April 26, 2021 in Carson City, Nev. Image: Jeri Chadwell / This Is Reno

Educators from across the state gathered Monday afternoon in front of the Nevada Legislature. They wore bright red shirts and carried signs with slogans advocating for education funding.

They chanted, “Be brave. Be bold. New revenue is the way to go.”

Nevada teachers have been wearing “Red for Ed” on Wednesdays throughout the pandemic to drum up support for their work. Monday’s red clothing was designated “Red for Revenue.” It’s the second rally by educators this legislative session.

Selena La Rue Hatch is a member of Nevada State Education Association and the current high school director for the Washoe Education Association. She teaches social studies at North Valleys High School.

“Today, we are ‘Red for Revenue,’” La Rue Hatch said. “So, we are here to advocate for new revenue in order to support education. We’ve been chronically underfunded in Nevada for a long time, and I think COVID has really revealed a lot of problems that have been there under the surface this whole time. And we need a long-term solution for our chronic funding issues.”

Educators consider the passage of Assembly Joint Resolution 1 as among possible long-term solutions. The resolution is one of three on the table this session that would raise taxes on mining operations in the state. Under AJR 1, 25% of taxes raised from mining would be dedicated to funding education.

AJR 1 was introduced and passed during the second of two special legislative sessions held during the summer of 2020. Because it would alter the Nevada Constitution, it must pass again during this session in order for it to be placed on the ballot in 2022 for voters to decide upon.

“We think that these legislators have really fought to protect democracy this year with their voting rights bills,” La Rue Hatch said. “So, all we’re asking is to let Nevadans vote on this—to trust democracy again.”

She said essential workers across industries, educators included, have had to make great sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic and only want the mining industry—which they perceive as having done well throughout the last year—to share in the sacrifices.

“We spent the day lobbying the legislature, meeting one-on-one with the legislators,” La Rue Hatch said. “And we have a pledge we’re asking them to sign, which says, ‘I commit to getting Nevada to the national average of funding by 2030.’ We’re 48th in the nation right now. All we’re asking for is average, which is kind of sad that that’s what we’re having to ask for, but we just want average.”

Carmen Andrews is a high school Spanish teacher in Clark County and vice president of the Nevada Education Association of Southern Nevada. She spoke on Monday with Assembly members Glen Leavitt, Tracy Brown-May and Brittney Miller, as well as Senator Roberta Lange.

“I think that went very well,” Andrews said. “I think that regardless of whether people are Democrats or Republicans, they are interested in funding education. There are, obviously, differences in how we go about doing that. … But I felt really encouraged that it seems like there’s finally a commitment to funding education. We’ll see how it pans out, right?”

Educators also asked legislators to pledge support for AJR 1 and Senate Bill 346, which would create a digital goods tax to mirror the state’s existing sales tax. State fiscal analysts have estimated that its passage could bring in approximately $35 million in state and county revenue annually.

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