Name: Bonnie Parnell
Address: 804 Saratoga Way, Carson City 89703
Phone number and campaign Web site: 883-4234, bonnieparnell.com
Education: BA History and Education Endorsement, Long Beach State and Master’s Equivalency
Political experience: Elected to Assembly District 40 in 1998, 2000, 2004, 2006
Please write a short biography of yourself (this answer may be up to 200 words; you might include such things as birthplace, career, community involvement/volunteer efforts, family, etc.)
I have lived in Carson City for the past 32 years. I raised my two sons, Charley and Andy, in our community. They attended Carson schools and I spent many years at Governor’s Field watching baseball games and at activities at Carson High School. I served in many PTA positions, both locally and as Nevada State PTA President from 1990-1992. I taught school at Fritsch Elementary and at Carson Middle School where I had the honor of being selected as the 1998 Nevada State Teacher of the Year. My family has recently grown with the birth of my first grandchild, Laine Maddigan, daughter of Andy and Shelley. I currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Northern Nevada Development Authority. I am a member of numerous other local organizations, including Associate Member of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Attorney General’s Safe Schools Task force.
Why are you running for State Assembly?
To lend a common sense approach to the legislation we consider and to continue to represent Assembly District 40. I take the role of public servant very seriously and I enjoy helping my constituents in and out of the Legislative Session. I will continue to work in a bipartisan, thoughtful way to address the challenges we face, especially in this time of financial crisis.
What makes a good legislator?
A good legislator must be willing to work with all members of the legislature and be open to all ideas. Access to a legislator is also important; everyone should feel like their voice is heard and that their views are respected. That is why I continue to publish my home phone number for constituents to call me about their concerns. I take each and every concern/suggestion very seriously.
What would your priorities be if elected?
As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, I will continue to work on education reform so that our students have a greater chance of success, creating a Revenue Stabilization Fund to address the fluctuations in the state budget, supporting programs that help our seniors stay in their homes, and finding ways to assist individuals and businesses with the cost of health care. I also plan on introducing legislation to strengthen penalties for criminal gang activities to make our schools, neighborhoods, and streets safer.
Should certain tax increases or new taxes be considered as part of the solution to the state’s budget crisis? If so, what taxes would you consider increasing or adding?
No one wants to raise taxes. To do so now would only add an additional burden on both individuals and businesses.
There are things that can be done to assist with the budget crisis that do not require new or increased taxes. State agencies are doing a fantastic job finding ways to cut back on expenses without creating negative consequences. Many are updating old systems for enhanced efficiency, some are creating public/private partnerships and most are exploring ways to maximize federal matches. I applaud all of our state employees, many of whom are doing the work of three or four staff persons due to the hiring freeze and increases in case loads.
If your answer to the previous question is no, would you say that you will never support any kind of tax or fee increase?
So much depends on what happens in the next few months with both the national and state economy. We all remember what happened to a former President after saying, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” To repeat that at this time would be irresponsible.
If you do not favor tax increases at this time, in what areas would you make further cuts?
I look forward to seeing the final report of the SAGE Commission regarding their recommendations for budget cuts. All ideas should be heard so that the consequences of any cut can be apparent in the legislative process.
Are there areas of the budget that should never be cut?
The Nevada Constitution mandates that we provide for a system of public education, including both K-12 and higher education, a prison system, a militia, and a public institution of care for the most vulnerable citizens. As an elected official I would ensure the operation of these programs.
Is more funding necessary to improve the quality of Nevada’s much-maligned schools? If so, where should that money be spent? If not, what are the keys to improvement?
I wrote and passed a bill last session to reform our high schools at no cost. It was based on common sense ideas such as helping our 9th graders with the transition into high school and allowing our school counselors to spend more time with students and less time on test administration. So no, improving our schools does not always require additional monies. One of the greatest ways to create improved learning is though tutoring and it does create an additional cost to provide tutoring especially if it is in a before or after school program.
Should the Nevada State Prison be closed as part of a solution to the budget crisis? Why?
Not necessarily. I think it would be wise to, at least, keep the newer portion of NSP open. I would not support any closure without a plan for prisoner placement and staff reassignment.
What is your assessment of the actions the governor has taken to solve the state’s budget problems? Has he set the proper priorities, and how would your priorities have differed?
There are much bigger issues facing our state than to lay blame on any one person. It is now time for elected officials to join as a team to work together and move our state forward.
Would you seek to work with the governor if you are elected? How?
I will continue to work with the Governor’s office as I have in the past. The legislative liaison is often involved with education issues so, as Chair of the Education Committee, I look forward to working together to enhance our education system.
Would you favor re-examining the state’s tax structure toward avoiding a “boom and bust” economy?
Absolutely. That is why I have submitted a bill draft request to create a Revenue Stabilization Fund. This would be a “forced” savings account for the state; much like we all try to have in our own families.
Is illegal immigration a problem in Nevada? If so, in what ways, and what, if anything, can the Legislature do to address this issue?
Yes, illegal immigration is a problem. During the 2007 Session, the Nevada Legislature passed legislation fining employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and made social security number verification available via a website. I supported this legislation.
Please summarize any other information you would like voters to know before casting their votes in this race.
It continues to be an honor for me to serve you in the Nevada Assembly. I pledge to continue to work hard on your behalf, making myself available to everyone. As someone who believes strongly in working with people with very diverse points of view, I have been endorsed by a broad range of groups. They include: Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada, Police Officers Association of Nevada, State of Nevada Employees Association, Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans, National Rifle Association, Nevada Conservation League, Nevada State Education Association, Nevada Faculty Alliance, Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, Associated General Contractors, Northern Nevada Chapter, Builders Association of Western Nevada, Nevada State AFL-CIO, and numerous other labor organizations.
As always, you can call me at home at 883-4234 with questions or comments. I hope that I can count on your continued support.