Kieckhefer, other Nevada GOP lawmakers backed by pro-education group

Ben Kieckhefer

Ben Kieckhefer

A dozen Nevada lawmakers were pleasantly surprised a week or two back when their constituents received full color fliers in the mail urging support for their vote in favor of taxes to improve K-12 education.

The flier received by voters in Sen. Ben Kieckhefer’s Carson City and south Reno district leads off with: “Senator Ben Kieckhefer stands up for Nevada Children. Let him know you support his work.”

Kieckhefer was among a number Republican lawmakers who voted for the tax package designed to generate $1.3 billion more for K-12 education programs in Nevada. Since the end of the session June 2, all the GOP members who voted for the package have been threatened with recall petitions and strong partisan opposition in the 2016 primary election cycle.

He said the mailer paid for by the American Federation for Children came as a surprise because he didn’t ask for its support.

“But I have thanked them,” he said.

He wasn’t alone. A spokesman at the American Federation for Children said similar mailers went out to constituents in the districts of Assemblymen Paul Anderson, Derek Armstrong, David Gardner, Erven Nelson, Stephen Silberkraus and Melissa Woodbury as well as Senators Greg Brower, Scott Hammond, Becky Harris, Mark Lipparelli and Michael Roberson — all Republicans who supported the tax package funding Nevada’s education reform plan.

The mailers say those lawmakers are working for children, ensuring tax dollars are spent efficiently, expanding school choice and providing more career and technical education opportunities.

The federation is a non-profit group that advocates for education reform — especially school choice — nationwide.

The group strongly supports the Educational Savings Accounts program approved by Nevada’s 2015 Legislature in SB302. This week the group published a telephone survey saying 61 percent of Nevadans support the ESA program with just 22 percent opposed to it.

That program allows parents to take up to $5,000 in public money that currently goes to the state’s school districts and use it to help pay for private school tuition for their child.

The law is being challenged as unconstitutional by the ACLU based on Nevada’s constitutional prohibition against using public money to support any religious organization. ACLU officials say about two-thirds of private schools receiving the money are operated by religious organizations.

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