June 15, 2017
15 Jun 2017

Political Update – December 19, 2017

Secret recordings show Laxalt's integrity

 

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal
December 12, 2017

 

You would think that breathless media reports about an elected official’s secretly recorded conversations would produce shocking evidence of wrongdoing. For Attorney General Adam Laxalt, however, they keep revealing his integrity.

Over the weekend, the Reno Gazette-Journal acted like it had a bombshell. Laxalt “sought to enlist state staffers in a politically-charged press spat over a pardoned prisoner, an audio recording obtained by the Reno Gazette Journal reveals.”

Translation: Laxalt directed his communications director to return a reporter’s phone call about an item in the news. It reveals a lot that the RGJ thinks it’s a big deal to find out that communications staffers return reporter phone calls.

“The conversation raises questions about Laxalt using official state resources for political purposes, which is prohibited under state law,” says the video accompanying the story.

Did they even listen to the tape?



READ MORE HERE

 

 

Quote of the week

Quote of the week


 

Quote:
"You would think that breathless media reports about an elected official’s secretly recorded conversations would produce shocking evidence of wrongdoing. For Attorney General Adam Laxalt, however, they keep revealing his integrity."
  - Victor Joecks,
Las Vegas Review-Journal,
December 12, 2017

 

When we talk about Nevada education funding, let's talk about accountability

Las Vegas Review-Journal December 11, 2017

The Clark County School District’s budget woes have intensified the perpetual debate about state education funding. What too often gets short shrift, however, is the concurrent discussion on accountability.

READ MORE HERE

 
 

Keystone's Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.
 

Keystone's Mission:

To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor's office.
    • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
    • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth

 

 

 

June 13, 2017
13 Jun 2017

Political Update – June 6, 2017

CCSD’s systemic problem and its expensive consequences

Steven Miller
Nevada Journal
June 1, 2017

Part 8: District’s internal financial controls revealed as effectively nonexistent 

In October 2013, the executive director of the administrators union for the Clark County School District was highly agitated over draft policy guidelines being offered for the school board’s review.
Although the guidelines seemed normal for government officials — requiring them to publicly disclose conflicts of interest — Stephen Augspurger nevertheless was saying he took great offense at the draft rules.
Augspurger, chief of the Clark County Association of School Administrators & Professional-Technical Employees, thought he saw within one draft insulting “insinuations” that one or more district administrators might be doing something improper…
Multiple years of hidden CCSD administrator corruption

As would soon become public information, however, corruption of significant scope had been ongoing for a minimum of seven years in at least one corner of the district’s central office.
At the very time Augspurger was addressing trustees, a long-running theft ring was plundering the district under the orchestration of a trusted and effectively unsupervised CCSD administrator, Priscilla Rocha.
As news stories throughout 2014 and 2015 would detail, Rocha, while pulling down a significant district salary, was also operating the theft ring from behind her directorship of CCSD’s Adult English Language Acquisition Services (AELAS) program.
The gang, organized and led by Rocha:
  • Stole tax dollars from the district through bogus purchase orders;
  • Stole district computers and other equipment, then snuck them across the border into Mexico;
  • Stole fees from students who were told their money would purchase dictionaries;
  • Funneled that money into a hidden Rocha bank account;
  • Used the student fees to purchase a hair salon, as well as pay her mortgage and car payments;
  • Billed CCSD for district “ghost” employees who actually worked for Rocha, personally, cutting hair in the salon;
  • Paid members of the ring in other states as CCSD “language tutors” for work they did not do.
When Rocha was finally suspended from her director job in March 2014, she was annually pulling down, according to Transparent Nevada, some $141,000 in salary and benefits. Although some of that income ended with her criminal conviction, she will still receive a taxpayer-funded Nevada PERS pension for life — approximately $71,000 annually.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: Governor Sandoval has refused to entertain a special session — essentially waving the white flag on what would have been the single most impressive educational choice program in the nation. Michael Schaus, NPRI
June 5, 2017

Political games kill nation’s most promising educational choice program

Michael Schaus
Nevada Research Policy Institute
June 5, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV — The Nevada Policy Research Institute sends its deepest regrets to the thousands of families that will be left without educational options, now that Education Savings Accounts are officially dead in the state legislature.
“It disheartening to see that, for many lawmakers, politics are more important than the needs of individual children,” said NPRI Communication Director Michael Schaus.
According to Schaus, political games and backroom deals ultimately killed the Governor’s proposed ESA fix, SB506.
“It was disheartening to see so many political special interests cheering the fact that 10,000 families won’t have educational options that better suit their children,” Schaus said.
“It’s equally as disheartening to see that Governor Sandoval has refused to entertain a special session — essentially waving the white flag on what would have been the single most impressive educational choice program in the nation.”
While ESAs were killed in a back-room agreement among senators of both parties, a one-time increase was given to the current tax-scholarship program for low-income families, The Opportunity Scholarship Program, of $20 million over the next two years.
“It’s being portrayed as a silver lining to an otherwise outright surrender by Sandoval and a handful of pro-ESA Republicans. But, for more than half the students who were counting on ESAs for their educational future, it is no such thing.” said Schaus.
“At the end of the day, political expediency got in the way of lawmakers standing up for all Nevada students in need of choice.”
The loss will have a long-lasting impact on Nevada’s future generations, according to Schaus.
“We were on the verge of seeing a gold rush of innovation flood the state with universal ESAs. Now, we’ve taken a giant step back toward the tried-and-failed status quo,” Schaus said. “It’s a sad narrative for a state that has repeatedly failed to provide quality education for our younger generations.”

Read More Here

June 5, 2017
05 Jun 2017

Political Update – May 30, 2017

Increase the minimum wage to $120 an hour

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 23, 2017

In Democrats’ world, you can have your cake, eat it and not gain an ounce from the extra calories.

That’s the level of nuance Democrats brought to a discussion Monday on Senate Bill 106, which would increase Nevada’s minimum wage by 75 cents an hour up to $12 an hour for employers not offering health insurance.

Bill presenters Sens. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, and Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, claim Nevada could raise the minimum wage without hurting the economy or killing jobs.
“Gradually increasing the minimum wage will put hundreds of millions into the pockets of Nevadans who then will spend money on basic necessities,” Cancela said. “That’s hundreds of millions of dollars going back into the economy in the form of goods and services consumed.”
Ford, the Senate Majority Leader, then cited an article on Arizona raising its minimum wage to $10 an hour on Jan. 1.
“It states that since the onset of the minimum wage increase and the paid sick-leave policy, they have seen increases in activities at restaurants,” said Ford. “There has not been the decrease and laying off and things of that sort that were projected by the naysayers.”
If we can raise the minimum wage without trade-offs, let’s blow past the living wage and get to a living-in-luxury wage.
But the problems with Democrats’ assertions are clearly seen when followed to their logical conclusions. It’s why liberals are left with the absurdity of saying, “We must raise the minimum wage — but not too much.”
A look at Nevada’s economy shows why SB106 is unnecessary. Cancela said Nevada has 1.2 million workers, and 20,000 make the minimum wage or less. That’s 1 in 600 workers.
So why are 599 out of 600 workers making more than the government-mandated minimum? Because as a worker’s skills increase, so does his or her pay. Most minimum-wage workers earn a raise within their first year of employment, and entry-level jobs are key to moving up the economic ladder.
“Astonishingly, 90 percent of the managers and the upper-level management in the restaurant industry started out as servers in the industry,” said Warren Hardy, a lobbyist for the Nevada Restaurant Association. “The advancement there is absolutely incredible. Our concern is the impact it will have the entry-level job.”
The best path to a job paying $12-an-hour is an $11-an-hour job. The best way to get that is a $10-an-hour job and so on.
Raising the minimum wage takes away those opportunities from the ones who need them most.

READ MORE HERE

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: In Democrats’ world, you can have your cake, eat it and not gain an ounce from the extra calories. That’s the level of nuance Democrats brought to a discussion Monday on Senate Bill 106, which would increase Nevada’s minimum wage by 75 cents an hour up to $12 an hour for employers not offering health insurance. Victor Joecks, Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 23, 2017

Bill to keep Nevada public employee retirement records secret was always a bad idea

Steve Sebelius
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 27, 2017
Senate Bill 384 has been many things in its short life, but it has never been a good idea.
Written in reaction to multiple court rulings which held — reasonably — that public employees’ pay and retirement benefits should be open to inspection by the public, SB 384 sought to do by legislation what the Public Employees Retirement System couldn’t do by litigation: drop a veil of secrecy over at least some records.
The initial version of the bill, introduced by Sparks Democratic state Sen. Julia Ratti in March, would have provided that the name, employer, position and annual salary of a public employee were public, but everything else in that employee’s file was confidential. It would also have said that the name, last public employer and amount of annual pension benefit of a retired public employee, retired judge or state lawmaker would be public, but everything else confidential.
But that version of the bill lasted only a month, before a pernicious amendment in the Senate’s Government Affairs Committee in April. The amended version said names of retired public employees would be confidential, but that an identifying number, the last public employer, the number of years in public service, the retirement date and amount of annual pension benefit would be public.
The reason? Advocates said the bill would fight identity theft targeting older, retirees. And anyway, there’s no reason to reveal a person’s name because the identifying number is good enough. (Full disclosure: My wife is a public employee and participates in PERS.)

Read More Here

June 5, 2017
05 Jun 2017

Political Update – May 23, 2017

Bill to raise Nevada’s minimum wage moves to Senate

Sean Whaley
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 15, 2017

CARSON CITY — A bill that would raise Nevada’s minimum wage moved forward on a 4-3 party-line vote Monday.
The Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee passed Senate Bill 106 to the full Senate. If it wins approval there, it must still be heard in the Assembly.
Nevada’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour for employees who are offered qualified health benefits from their employers. The minimum wage for employees who are not offered health benefits is $8.25 per hour.
The bill would increase the minimum by 75 cents each year until it reaches $12 if employers do not offer health insurance and $11 if insurance is provided.
Supporters of raising the wage testified at a committee hearing in February that paying low-wage earners more would help lift them out of poverty and benefit the overall economy by giving them more buying power.
But opponents countered it would mean increased burdens for small businesses and lead to higher prices, job losses and fewer opportunities for young workers to gain work experience.
Nevada’s existing wage, if insurance is provided, is on par with Idaho and Utah, but lags behind California, Arizona and Oregon.
Another measure being considered seeks to amend the constitution to raise the minimum wage.
Senate Joint Resolution 6 would require the minimum wage to be increased by 75 cents an hour each year beginning on Jan. 1, 2022 until it reaches $12. It would also require the state minimum wage to be set at the federal rate if that rate is higher than what is proposed in the resolution.
The measure would have to be approved by the Legislature twice, this session and again in 2019, and then be approved by voters in 2020, before it could take effect.
Current minimum wage:
6 states have a wage of $10 or more, including California and Arizona.
12 states have a wage of $8.75 to $9.99
11 states have a wage of $7.50 to $8.74
19 states have a wage of $7.25 or they defer to the rate set by the federal government
2 states are below the federal minimum wage.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: One of the reasons the framers of Nevada’s Constitution included a separation-of-powers clause was to avoid the creation of a super-class of elite rulers, passing laws that applied to the masses but not to them.. Steve Sebelius, Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 6, 2017

Lots of reasons to kill Nevada legislation that keeps retired public employee names secret

Steve Sebelius
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 6, 2017
One of the reasons the framers of Nevada’s Constitution included a separation-of-powers clause was to avoid the creation of a super-class of elite rulers, passing laws that applied to the masses but not to them.
Thank God we don’t have elites who shield their retirement pay, their home addresses and their private deliberations over public laws from the people, right?
Oh, wait.
The Assembly’s Government Affairs Committee last week heard state Sen. Julia Ratti’s Senate Bill 384, which would shield the names of pension-drawing retired public employees from those who pay the taxes to support those pensions.
Ratti says her bill — which would replace names with unique identifying numbers — is a step against identity theft and fraud against the elderly. But it’s also a clear attempt to get around court rulings that held government employee pay and pensions are a matter of public record.
For that reason, Ratti’s bill should be killed, whether by lawmakers or by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto. (It passed the state Senate April 21 on a nearly party-line vote, with Democrats in support.)

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