Parnell-Simons meet at chamber luncheon

Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, defused some potential opposition from a pro-business Chamber of Commerce crowd Wednesday by telling them she opposes both Joe Neal's gaming tax and the teachers' association business tax.

But she refused to let supporters of her Republican challenger Jeanne Simons push her into promising she would oppose any new or increased tax in 2001.

Simons said she had no problem making that promise after reading Gov. Kenny Guinn has promised pay increases for state workers and teachers without new taxes.

"He already stated no new taxes," she said. "When I read that article, I said I love that man."

Guinn has said he will save money by fundamentally changing how government does business with no new taxes. But, he has said that until the fundamental review of state government is finished, he cannot promise there will be no tax increases.

Parnell too said until that review is done, she can make no such promise.

"If he comes to the Legislature with a request for a tax increase, yes, I would probably support it."

Parnell and Simon spoke at a chamber luncheon in the Carson Nugget on Wednesday.

Parnell, a Democrat and Carson Middle School teacher running for her second two-year term representing Assembly District 40, started off by saying she opposes those two tax initiatives primarily because they would earmark the money raised, possibly prohibiting it from being used where most needed.

But she added that the business tax especially would be "detrimental to some of our most vulnerable small businesses."

She told the group of about 30 that her first term record shows she is no enemy of business. She said she worked well with area business leaders on their goals - including Don and Jeanne Simons on a proposal that could have hurt their business, Artistic Fence.

She also said she would work to prevent the state from cutting its costs by unfairly pushing costly responsibilities down onto the cities and counties as "unfunded mandates."

Simons said Nevada needs more "citizen legislators who also generate tax dollars" - meaning small business people like herself.

But she repeated her stand that she does "not favor any increase in any existing tax or creation of any new tax."

She called for changes to reduce the red tape preventing experienced non-Nevada teachers from going to work in Nevada schools despite a growing shortage.

"If Michelangelo were to come to Carson City right now, he couldn't teach art," she said.

Parnell said she, too, favors relaxing some of those rules, pointing out that she teaches middle school but would have to begin as a student teacher if she transferred to Carson High.

Both said they support Carson City's $18 million school bond proposal and both said they favor laws protecting the right of citizens to keep and bear arms in Nevada.

Parnell and Simons are both 24-year residents of Nevada. Parnell was Nevada teacher of the year in 1998, is a former member of the state welfare board and former state president of the PTA.

Simons has a long history of political activism, including as chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Women. She has worked on issues including charter schools and other educational reforms in the past five legislative sessions.

They are unopposed in the primary and won't face each other until the November general elections.


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