All three candidates for Carson City’s Assembly District 40 turned out for the League of Women Voters forum Monday night.
But of the three running for Senate District 16 representing the capital, only Independent John Everhart, was there.
Assembly District 40 Democrat Dave Cook, a member of the state Board of Education, focused heavily on public education’s need for more revenue. But he also charged that local governments and the state itself need more funds to properly provide services and fuel the economy.
Republican PK O’Neill said Nevada needs to develop both K-12 education and its community college system. He also said state employees, who saw their pay and benefits cut during the recession, “need to be made whole.”
Independent American Party candidate John Wagner repeated that party’s mantra: “The problem isn’t funding, it’s spending.” He said not only does he oppose any new or increased taxes, he would refuse to extend the $1.2 billion in temporary, sunseted taxes used to balance the current budget.
Everhart said the community colleges “got whacked hard” in the last legislative session.
“I think we owe our young people in this state a quality education,” he said.
Everhart promised to conduct his business in the open using weekly town hall meeting with constituents to discuss the issues.
All said the teacher’s education tax — the margins tax — was badly written and potentially very bad for Nevada’s economy.
But only Cook said he supports removing constitutional protections against taxation from the mining industry. He said he wanted more information on what the state would do if those protections were lifted.
Everhart, a former mining engineer, said mining needs to pay its fair share.
O’Neill said he opposed lifting those protections. He said it’s not just the mines but all their suppliers, vendors and other businesses that generate cash and tax revenue in Nevada.
Wagner said the situation needs to be examined “before we tinker with it.”
O’Neill said Tesla is “a tremendous opportunity to our state. Cook agreed saying its economic effects will multiply “over and over.”
Wagner expressed concern building the highway from that plant to Silver Springs would take money needed to finish the Carson bypass.
Asked how they would balance the state budget, O’Neill said he wants to wait and see the governor’s proposed budget.
Cook said there’s no doubt the state needs more money.
“I don’t like the idea of more property taxes and more sales taxes. That’s on your shoulders’” he told the audience. “But somebody’s got to come up with more revenue.”
He suggested a gross earnings tax on interstate chain stores.
“The big problem in the state is not more taxes,” said Wagner. “It’s spending.”
All three agreed medical marijuana is good for those who need it but expressed serious doubts about legalizing recreational pot use. Wagner said he was flat opposed. The other two said Nevada should see how things work out in Colorado and Washington. which have legalized pot.
Everhart pointed to the empty seats beside him: “The Republican incumbent and the Democrat didn’t show up,” he said. “I did. If you want a protest candidate, I’m him.”