Gibbons files Nevada education initiative
An initiative that Republican Rep. Jim Gibbons terms his way to protect Nevada education funding from politics was filed Thursday – and was promptly assailed by Democrats as a move to bolster his expected bid for governor in 2006.
As the “Education First” initiative was filed with the secretary of state, Gibbons criticized a 2003 legislative logjam over new taxes and school funding, saying, “Never again should the children of Nevada be held hostage to partisan politics in the budgeting process.”
Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, R-Reno, joined her husband in pushing the initiative, promising it would be “the greatest grassroots campaign on behalf of public education in Nevada’s history.”
Supporters at scheduled news conferences in Las Vegas and Reno included state Sen. Bernice Mathews, D-Reno, and former national PTA president Ann Lynch.
The initiative would amend the Nevada Constitution to require legislators to first pass an education budget for K-12 schools before moving on to budgets for other government programs. Proponents must gather more than 51,000 valid signatures by June to qualify for the November ballot.
Voter approval would be needed this year and again in 2006 for the proposal to take effect.
Greg Bortolin, spokesman for Gov. Kenny Guinn who sought higher taxes in 2003 and signed the record $833 million tax plan approved by legislators, said the GOP governor had a chance to offer suggested initiative wording changes to Gibbons and now “he’s supportive of it.”
State Democratic Party spokesman Jon Summers stated, “When it comes to putting education first, Jim Gibbons is the last to know.” He added Gibbons’ congressional voting record shows “he has repeatedly put education last.”
“Now that he has decided he wants to be Nevada’s governor in 2006, all of a sudden he claims to take an interest in our children,” Summers said, adding that without actual support for education funding Gibbons was being “disingenuous.”