In my last column I noted how wrong it is to use taxpayer dollars to “bribe” companies in other states with tax breaks to move to Nevada — tax breaks companies already here aren’t getting. And look, if reducing taxes is what it takes to lure companies to move here from other states, then isn’t that pretty much an indication that our existing taxes on businesses are too high and maybe we should be reducing the tax burden on everybody, not just those the government sees fit to favor?Which brings me to a different argument often put forward as to why more companies aren’t moving here: The sorry state of public education. In fact, here’s what former University Chancellor Jim Rogers recently wrote on this very subject:“When businesses consider moving to Clark County, the quality of education is always a consideration. Safe and functioning schools play a vital role in building a strong community, helping to stimulate economic development and attracting new jobs. All must support Nevada’s education system to revive its economy.”First, I’ve talked about this with some high-ranking economic development folks who have been directly involved in trying to lure out-of-state companies to Nevada, and they tell me that almost NO ONE even asks about the state of our public schools, let alone uses it as an excuse not to move here.Why? Simple. Because the public schools pretty much stink EVERYWHERE.That said, Mr. Rogers has a point. An educated populace is, indeed, in our community’s best interest. However ...Public education isn’t the same as public schools.After all, food is certainly more of a necessity than a classroom education, right? Yet the government doesn’t run all of our grocery stores. And if publicly funded food stamps are acceptable for use in private food stores, why aren’t publicly funded school vouchers acceptable for use in private schools?And I’d further argue that the best thing the Legislature could possibly do to motivate businesses to move their operations and employees to Nevada would be to provide universal school vouchers.Think about it: You’re a company considering moving to Nevada, but you have a lot of experienced, talented employees you want to bring with you, many of whom have school-age children. So here’s the pitch you’d be able to give them…Move with us and not only won’t you pay any state income tax (pay raise!), you’ll also receive a voucher in the amount of $4,000 per year which you can use to send your child to the private school of your choice instead of a crappy government-run school.If you don’t think that would be a HUGE incentive to move here, you must not have children. So let it be written; so let it be done.•Chuck Muth is president of CitizenOutreach.com.
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