Five candidates for two Assembly seats discuss taxes and redevelopment
Five candidates for two Assembly seats representing Carson City answered questions at the Chamber of Commerce’s second candidate forum Thursday.
All on the dais were Republicans. Chamber officials said Democrat Robin Williamson running in District 40 and Independent American Dennis Gomez in District 38 weren’t invited because neither is being challenged in the primary.
The audience at the Carson Nugget started out at about 100 for the first round of candidates – those running for Carson City Sheriff. But about two-thirds left during the break before the Assembly interviews began.
Those facing the questioning were incumbent Tom Grady and Gary Gladwell in District 38, which includes part of Carson City, Lyon and west Churchill counties; and Amy Clemens, Pete Livermore and Lynda Upton in District 40, which covers the majority of Carson City.
The questioning centered on dealing with the state’s revenue shortfall in the coming legislative session.
To tax or not to tax, that is the question. The need for increased revenues to fund state programs and employees is ever in the forefront since tax and gaming revenues continue to fall. How do you propose to address this shortfall?
PETE LIVERMORE: “I would be willing to bet you’re going to see a service tax or tax on gross revenue.” He said those taxes would be “very harmful to the creation of businesses or operation of businesses. Putting layers of tax on the private sector is not productive.”
AMY CLEMENS: “I firmly believe cutting the government is our primary objective. We are not going to pay more taxes. In the private sector we are making these cuts. Government has to follow suit.”
LYNDA UPTON: “We’ve all been taxed to the brink. We need to start bringing business here.” She said that includes turning Yucca Mountain into a recycling center to generate millions for the state. As for reducing government, she said, “there are no more sacred cows.”
TOM GRADY: Said in the 2003 Legislature, he is “very proud to say I was one of the ‘Mean 15’ because we would not vote for the tax increase.” He said the budget shortfall could reach $3.5 billion out of the current $6.5 billion budget. “We have to look at what services we have to provide and if not, they will go away.”
GARY GLADWELL: “All non-essential departments have got to be scrutinized, got to be reduced. Taxation is not the key to making the government work better. Government should be shrunk by the same amount the private sector is shrinking.”
The need for redevelopment reform was a hot topic of the last legislative session. Do you feel the current NRS279 statute governing redevelopment is clear and if so, why – if not, why not?
UPTON: Said she didn’t know enough about the redevelopment statutes to comment on the subject.
LIVERMORE: As a Carson City supervisor, redevelopment is “one of my major topics of discussion. The biggest problem with redevelopment is the transparency in how it functions.” He said the public doesn’t trust the system because what’s happening isn’t transparent to them.
CLEMENS: Said the law needs clarification “on how that money can be used.” She said with 240 vacant buildings in town, Carson City needs to attract business and development. And she said there are red-tape problems, charging that one reason the Ormsby House has been closed so long is “fights with the city.”
GRADY: Said most counties have been responsible, but some have used redevelopment money inappropriately. He said there have also been issues raised about STAR bonds, which allow a developer to take some of the sales taxes generated by a project to pay off the bonds that financed it. He said the law needs to be clarified as to what redevelopment money can be used for.
GLADWELL: Said counties wouldn’t give an individual business redevelopment money, that maybe it should be put in a loan fund. He said redevelopment money is often spent “very unwisely.” He said that results in too many legal stipulations on using the money – such as the prevailing wage laws.
Nevada is not a home rule state. Do you feel the Legislature would be better served by allowing home rule in Nevada? Why or why not?
UPTON: “I believe local government should have a little bit of autonomy. We aren’t supposed to be micromanaging what people in the cities are doing.”
CLEMENS: “We need to go back to the founding fathers and return power to the people. Give local government more autonomy to run Carson City.”
LIVERMORE: “Local officials are smart people.” He said lawmakers gave Carson City the power to raise salaries for public officials and he voted three times against the raises. “I don’t know why the Legislature keeps that power.”
GLADWELL: “I agree 100 percent with home rule. If 10 of you go down to your supervisors meeting, it will have a lot more impact than if 10 of you go down to the Legislature.”
GRADY: “Counties can’t do anything the Legislature doesn’t give them the power to do. There’s no reason we have to micromanage every unit of government in the state of Nevada.”
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