Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley outlines alternative to cuts (with letter) |

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley outlines alternative to cuts (with letter)

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, has objected to plans by Gov. Jim Gibbons to cut public school budgets.

“Education First should not mean cutting education first,” she said in a four-page letter to the governor. “It should mean scouring all alternatives to cut so that we can help education first.”

Gibbons, in his plan announced a week ago, called for eliminating full-day kindergarten and class-size reduction funding – moves that could save up to $170 million in fiscal 2011.

Buckley suggested several alternatives including analyzing reserve accounts to find unused funds, expanding efforts to collect unpaid taxes and reviewing the furlough system to see if it is saving money as planned.

She also urged reconsideration of every tax break the state provides, saying the loss of that money harms schools and hurts the economy in the long run.

Buckley also called for education changes such as a “pay for performance” system rewarding teachers who improve student performance, expanding career and technical education for high schools and funding for “tutoring book camps” for failing schools.

Buckley asked for a meeting between the Gibbons administration and legislative leadership in the first week of February to review both the results of next week’s Economic Forum and proposals to save money.

She also said that, rather than call an expensive special session of the Legislature, the governor should put together proposals in a way that can be considered by the Interim Finance Committee.