Assembly speaker offers options for state’s fiscal crisis in town-hall meeting | NevadaAppeal.com
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Assembly speaker offers options for state’s fiscal crisis in town-hall meeting

Karen Woodmansee
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

“Nevada can do better” when it comes to handling the state’s financial crisis, said Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley at a town hall meeting in Carson City on Monday.

“We are all concerned about the mediocre level of government service and our fellow Nevadans,” she said. “We want to find long-term, bipartisan solutions. This is about what kind of state we want to be.”

Buckley said she would be going around the state holding town meetings to get input from residents on their priorities.

She said first state officials should decide priorities and what a good level of service is, then look for a revenue source to get there.

Buckley supported reviewing and possibly ending tax abatements for businesses, and an increase in the room tax rate in Washoe and Clark counties that she said was a negotiated settlement with teachers who wanted to increase gaming taxes.

She also said the state should pressure the Bureau of Land Management to deed land to the state and set up renewable energy programs such as wind and solar projects.

Buckley said she supports a revamped savings account that would put 1 percent or 2 percent of each revenue dollar in a savings account to eliminate the peaks and valleys of the state’s economy.

“We have to end the boom-and-bust cycle so we don’t tear down what we just built,” she said.

The Carson City Chamber of Commerce hosted the meeting at the Elks Club on Nevada Street, which featured about 50 invitees, including some candidates.

In her presentation, Buckley, who represents District 8 in Clark County, pointed out that Nevada is at the bottom of good rankings and at the top of the bad ones.

“We are number one in foreclosures,” she said. “One of every 91 homes is in foreclosure.”

She said the state’s general fund was in free-fall, cash-strapped tourists are staying home and state residents are spending less, citing a Rockefeller Institute study that found Nevada’s economy declining more than any other state.

Despite low business taxes, Buckley said Forbes Magazine rated it 19th for business climate, but 47th in quality of life, and CNBC ranked it 45th in business climate because of a below-average quality of life and education.

The state was 47th in education spending per pupil, 45th in reading proficiency, 44th in math proficiency, with the fifth highest dropout rate in the nation.

The state is ranked 46th in the number of physicians per 100,000 people and 49th for nurses per 100,000.

She said that 61 percent of the state’s revenue comes from gaming and sales tax, and “except for Alaska, Nevada has the lowest state and local tax burden in the nation.”

She said 93 percent of money spent went to constitutionally required expenses of education, health and human services and public safety.

At UNR and WNC, fewer classes are offered, positions have been eliminated or left vacant and 69 qualified nurse applicants were turned away from WNC, despite the state’s low number of nurses.

“We can do better,” she said. “We must overhaul government.”

Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.

She said 93 percent of money spent went to constitutionally required expenses of education, health and human services and public safety.

At UNR and WNC, fewer classes are offered, positions have been eliminated or left vacant and 69 qualified nurse applicants were turned away from WNC, despite the state’s low number of nurses.

“We can do better,” she said. “We must overhaul government.”

Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.