Nineteenth Special Session, 2003
ASSEMBLY DAILY JOURNAL
THE FIFTH DAY
Carson City (Saturday), June 7, 2003
Assembly called to order at 6:11 p.m.
Mr. Speaker presiding.
All present except Assemblyman Carpenter, who was excused.
Prayer by the Chaplain, Terry Sullivan.
Let us pray. Well, Lord, we’ve asked You for a lot of things these past months and You have been real good to us. But tonight we just ask—no, we beseech You—to help us finish this session in good humor and friendship. And we’d like to finish real soon. Oh, I’m sorry, there is just one more thing. We’d like You to deal with crickets in Elko. We’ve got enough problems with the drought that we don’t need crickets. Thanks, Lord.
Pledge of allegiance to the Flag.
Assemblyman Oceguera moved that further reading of the Journal be dispensed with, and the Speaker and Chief Clerk be authorized to make the necessary corrections and additions.
MESSAGES FROM THE GOVERNOR
State of Nevada
Office of the Governor
A PROCLAMATION BY THE GOVERNOR:
On June 3, 2003, I, Kenny C. Guinn, Governor of the State of Nevada, through my proclamation, convened a Special Session of the Nevada Legislature. The Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the Assembly have requested that I extend the 19th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature for two days. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution of the State of Nevada, I hereby amend my proclamation of June 3, 2003, and extend the 19th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature until 5:00 p.m. on June 8, 2003.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Nevada to be affixed at the State Capitol in Carson City this 6th day of June, in the year two thousand three.
Kenny C. Guinn
Secretary Of State
Deputy Secretary of State
Mr. Speaker announced if there were no objections, the Assembly would recess subject to the call of the Chair.
Assembly in recess at 6:15 p.m.
ASSEMBLY IN SESSION
At 6:20 p.m.
Mr. Speaker presiding.
INTRODUCTION, FIRST READING AND REFERENCE
By the Select Committee on State Revenue and Education Funding:
Assembly Bill No. 1—AN ACT relating to state financial administration; providing for the imposition and administration of state taxes on business entities and financial institutions for the privilege of doing business in this state; replacing the casino entertainment tax with a tax on all live entertainment; revising the taxes on liquor and cigarettes; imposing a state tax on the transfer of real property and revising the provisions governing the existing tax; revising the fees charged for certain gaming licenses; establishing the Legislative Committee on Taxation, Public Revenue and Tax Policy; requiring the Department of Education to prescribe a minimum amount of money that each school district must expend each year for textbooks, instructional supplies and instructional hardware; apportioning the State Distributive School Account in the State General Fund for the 2003-2005 biennium; making various other changes relating to State financial administration; authorizing certain expenditures; providing penalties; making an appropriation; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Assemblyman Arberry moved that the bill be referred to the Select Committee on State Revenue and Education Funding.
Assemblywoman Buckley moved that the Assembly recess until 7:00 p.m.
Assembly in recess at 6:20 p.m.
ASSEMBLY IN SESSION
At 7:10 p.m.
Mr. Speaker presiding.
REPORTS OF select COMMITTEES
Your Select Committee on State Revenue and Education Funding, to which was referred Assembly Bill No. 1, has had the same under consideration, and begs leave to report the same back with the recommendation: Do pass.
Morse Arberry Jr., Chairman
MOTIONS, RESOLUTIONS AND NOTICES
Assemblywoman Buckley moved that all rules be suspended, reading so far had considered second reading, rules further suspended, Assembly Bill No. 1 considered engrossed, declared an emergency measure under the Constitution and placed on third reading and final passage.
Motion carried unanimously.
general file and third reading
Assembly Bill No. 1.
Bill read third time.
Remarks by Assemblymen Angle, Giunchigliani, Parks, Hettrick, Collins, Chowning, Knecht, Pierce, Geddes, Gibbons, Anderson, Gustavson, and Goldwater.
Mr. Speaker announced if there were no objections, the Assembly would recess subject to the call of the Chair.
Assembly in recess at 7:52 p.m.
ASSEMBLY IN SESSION
At 7:53 p.m.
Mr. Speaker pro Tempore presiding.
Remarks by Assemblymen Hardy, Buckley, Griffin, and Perkins.
Assemblyman Oceguera requested that the following remarks be entered in the Journal.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in opposition to Assembly Bill No. 1. In committee this morning, we asked that this bill be considered separately from the Distributive School Account. Since we have decided to roll this up into one unprecedented measure this evening, I don’t see how, in all conscience, I can vote for something that seems to be cowardly and irresponsible, balancing the budget on the backs of our children. We need to give the Distributive School Account to our Governor, and allow him to fund it, as our Constitution demands that we fund education; and leave the politics out of it, the politics that we need more taxes. I don’t believe that. We have enough funding to fund education. If we had not passed the appropriations bill out—even though we voted no and still didn’t have enough votes to stop it from passing out—we would still have enough to fund education right now. I believe the Governor can make those decisions and I would like him to make those decisions. I will be voting no on AB 1. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First, with your indulgence, I would like to briefly speak about what is contained in the bill regarding the Distributive School Account and the Class Size Reduction Act. We did fold in Senate Bill No. 2, which provided the money for the DSA and Senate Bill No. 3, which funds the statewide class size program. You will find that in sections 161.2 through 196 in Assembly Bill 1. This contains a great deal of hard work that the subcommittees worked on throughout the entire session. Unfortunately, it seems that education gets what’s left, not what is right. At this point, this bill reflects not a very large increase at all to really deal with the budgets and needs for our students. What is not contained in here is full day kindergarten; what is not contained in here, after 17 years, is class size reduction for kindergarten kids. We still make five year old babies have to deal with classrooms of 45 students in it. Shame on us. What’s not included in here is extra stipends for teachers. We did convert some of that money into retirement credit. We made no gains moving us from 46th in the nation regarding school funding. In this bill, we still rank 49th. Florida finished behind Nevada in school spending. Thirty-two dollars and twenty-nine cents out of every $1000 of personal income goes towards education. The national average was $48.50. For per pupil spending, we are 46th to 38th, depending on which ranking you use. No matter what, we are towards the bottom. With per pupil expenditures, we are 44th in the nation at $5600 per pupil, and that is with the wealth equalization formula that benefits the rurals at the expense of the two urban areas.
Expenditures for education, based on Nevada’s per capita, we are 48th. High school drop out rate, unfortunately, we are third. Percent of population with a bachelor’s degree, Nevada ranks 47th. Which state is the smartest? According to Morgan Quitno Press, Nevada is 46th. There is nothing that is over funded in this budget. In fact, it’s under funded. If we do not take action this evening, if we do not fund DSA and CSR, our districts will have to go to their secondary plans that they testified to. We may be impacting year round schools. There may have to be slowdowns. At some point for those individuals who stand here and say, “Oh, I support the DSA. I support Class Size Reduction.” But they don’t want to fund the money for it? That’s hypocrisy. That’s unacceptable. That is irresponsible. You either support education or put your money where your mouth is.
One hundred and twenty-five days ago, the Governor called for a record tax increase. Every one of us that just got elected cringed and said, “Oh my heavens, what are we going to do here?” But unfortunately, due to some words that he said, some feelings were hurt. Some individuals never bothered to get over it. Part of that has driven what we have been trying to reconcile throughout this entire session. I can’t fix how people reacted to that. Unfortunately, it helped set the stage and has never allowed us to get to a place of compromise. I’m pretty strong on many things, and I’m passionate about many things. I do believe there is strength in compromise. In this last week, we saw no one coming forward, other than a flittering of little lobbyists running around the halls, coming forward to give us some other ideas on how to more appropriately fund this budget. We’re still hearing things like, “Oh, we have to go back and open the budget, and cut it.” We don’t have that. Not one of you spoke against the appropriations act the night we passed it out. Yes, fifteen people voted no. But not one person stood on this floor and made an argument why we should not. Well, I’m sorry. You lost your chance. I think that is a poor argument to use right now because of the box everyone has put themselves in. You have to face your maker, basically. And that is, you either fund education or you don’t. We have to get pass the obstructionists.
I commend our leadership for working to make sure we didn’t let lobbyists control this tax plan that we did. It’s not perfect. There is no such thing as a fair tax. It doesn’t exist. But, by God, we made a commitment. When I wrote ACR 1 last session, the idea was to come back with a broad based tax. Anybody that feels that you can’t deal with that, you should not have run for office because that was out there for an entire year and a half. A broad based tax that captured businesses that have never paid or haven’t paid their fair share. No property tax increase. Don’t overburden moms and pops. This tax plan accomplishes that. It’s got a broad based tax. Gross receipts were dead on arrival, according to some people. Okay, so we moved to the next thing. We have moved and moved and moved all session. I think this plan does the best of both worlds. It goes after big businesses that have never paid, or not paid their fair share; it doesn’t increase revenue on gaming; it protects our moms and pops; and there is not a property tax increase contained in this legislation.
At this point, I think you have to step up. This is about leadership. Anybody can vote no. It’s very easy to vote no. It’s much more difficult to vote yes. I would ask you to please, please, reconsider where you are and vote your conscience. Not politics. Not a caucus position. Not because you are angry with the Governor or the Democrats or the Republicans. This is about doing your job. We were called back here to do this. You have an opportunity to do it. We can send a message to the Senate and maybe they might actually convene sometime tonight to act on something. But no matter what, it is your opportunity. It is time to seize it. We’ll come back to fight another day and another way, but I urge your leadership and your support.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of AB 1. If I might, I’d like to quickly comment on what is in the bill. My colleague from Assembly District 9 has done a good job of talking about items we did not put into this bill that could have had a very adverse affect on numerous individuals. From the very beginning, we talked about having a broad based business tax. I think that we achieved that. We talked about taxes that didn’t unfairly tax any one sector of the economy over another. We’ve long known that there are many businesses that escape taxes in this state. They charge the same high rates for their products in the state as they do in neighboring states; however, they don’t pay anywhere near the tax they pay for the privilege of doing business in the other state. So, with that we came up with a program. We tried to reduce passive revenue generators. Those are the allowances that business have been permitted to retain for the collection of taxes. We’ve put into law other methods, including the ability to use electronic technology to simplify, expedite, and save funds. We increased the business license fee. We went to expanding the entertainment tax. We brought cigarette taxes up to a rate that is commensurate with the states surrounding us. With regards to liquor tax, we increased those as well and made them more competitive with our neighboring states. Gaming has taken its hit as far as increase in taxes on gaming, in addition to all the other taxes that they face. We did the same with restrictive slot licenses. We’ve increased the business license tax. We’ve created a net profits tax and a corresponding bank franchise fee. Finally, we’ve increased the real estate transfer tax for those individuals who buy or sell a new home. We made that less onerous than what many of the projections had been.
Some twenty-two years ago, I was involved with the legislative process when we went from the property tax to increasing the sales tax. What is funny, is that we knew when that law passed we were creating a major problem, a major problem that was going to last and probably was going to need to be corrected in a very few short years. It’s surprising, with a little tweaking and tuning, we’ve been able to survive for twenty-two years. We have slid behind consistently. Approximately twelve years ago, when Governor Miller had to make substantial cuts, we knew then, that we were far behind the curve. We have continued over the last ten and twelve years, to stand in that situation. So, what is really happening is that the chickens are coming home to roost. In this bill, we have gone to great extent to deal with the problems that were brought to our attention such as pass through expenses or taxation and the cascading effect. So, all in all, we have what I consider a very good bill. As my colleague from District 10 is saying, it isn’t perfect, but it is definitely a very good bill. So, I certainly support that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in opposition to this bill. I will not deal in spin or in anger in regard to my remarks. I will simply say to you that when you fold these together, you give us no other opportunity to vote on a tax package. This is the only time we will get to say no to a tax package. So you obviously leave us with no choice. Our statement on the appropriations act that passed out of here over our vote, which was more than one-third “no,” was clearly heard by our vote. There can be no doubt that is true because it is already on the Internet that this bill will fail. That statement was heard loud and clear by anyone who listened. To believe this bill, coming here in this fashion, was going to pass, is simply not believable. It is clear that bringing this bill in a single package is nothing more than a political statement. That statement can be made here and it will be. But to say that there was no other way, or that we were disingenuous, or those of us who support education because we will vote no to taxes in our only opportunity to do so, is clearly not true. I urge my colleague’s opposition to this form of bringing a bill to the floor.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in strong support of AB 1. First of all, to my colleague from District 26, it is not the Governor’s job; it’s our job. It’s our job to find the revenue and the funding and put it forward, with our votes, to support the education and the needs of the state of Nevada. That’s number one. Secondly, to this body, I want to share some things, from growing up in Las Vegas and Clark County and southern Nevada, going to school there. Western High School opened up in 1961 with a projected enrollment of 900 students. It opened with over 2100 students. They were started with double sessions. I can name examples of that clear up to today. But I can tell you, this legislative body, for those of you who have not been here for more than a couple of terms, you can go clear back to 1979 or 1981 when this legislature appropriated over $3 million to build a high school for the Pahranagat Valley High School replacement because it was almost condemned. We just more recently, in the last ten years, replaced an elementary school in Schurz, Nevada because the buildings built in 1936 were condemned. We just last session appropriated about a million dollars to a build an elementary school in Pioche because the building was condemned; that’s beyond not having enough books, papers, teachers, classrooms, and desks and chairs to sit in. I believe at the beginning of session that a group of kids said that, “I want to take that magnet school class, but there aren’t enough chairs to sit in.” I could give many, many more examples of those few things where we’ve taken appropriations that come to the General Fund in this State Legislature, and rather than being able to go out there and build or help those people who are needy, temporarily and sometimes permanently, we’ve had to take money away from those people to go to a segment of our community that does not have the money to do that. Whether it is from the tax shift, as our taxation chairman stated earlier, or whether it was from never having a stable tax base. I believe it was in 1989 when we paid a half million dollars to a firm to come and tell us how to fix our taxes. Did our predecessors respond? Barely, in 1991 or in 1993, did they respond, and definitely not adequately. We keep getting further behind.
A couple of days ago a young lady from a rural school district was here to see how we were coming along in our special session. She drove a vehicle, one of the best vehicles in the White Pine County School District, that had over 250,000 miles on it. I am doing this in small terms. Just imagine this one car, the best in the school district, was driven over 300 miles to Carson City, by this lady, to do school business. Then she drove home again. Imagine your spouse or friend having to drive an old car across Nevada to take care of business. That car wasn’t purchased new by the school district, rather as a used car they bought from a convent of nuns. A bunch of us live in Clark County, and a bunch of us live in Washoe County, and we see all the glimmer and lights, but let us look at Nevada as a whole. We are Nevada and we have to step up as legislators and do what is right. Now that I have you envisioning that car, envision that it is Nevada because of inaction, whether political by legislators, or political by Governors, who wouldn’t raise a tax at the end of their term, or wouldn’t raise a tax until they could restudy this, or legislators who wouldn’t raise a tax because they were afraid to because of reelection. Let me tell you, I won an election and lost the next and I have been back four times. This is because I will vote for what I believe is the best for all of Nevada. I don’t vote for Joe’s Tavern, a newspaper, for gaming, or for anyone else. I vote for what I think is best for Nevada and that is our job. That is what we were elected to do. Now that you are envisioning this car, envision a car that was overhauled in 1981, with the tax shift. We did a few minor repairs to in 1989 and 1991. That old car is broken down, the tires are worn out, the oil needs to be changed, the motor is clunking, we have blown a rod, we have a few bent valves, the windshield is broken, the gas tank leaks, it smokes to high heaven, polluting this valley. That car is in bad shape. AB 1 is our opportunity to get Nevada running down the road again in the Twenty-First Century and stop fixing things when they are condemned. Let’s help someone before they are in prison by giving him or her an education. Let’s go help someone where there is an opportunity to have a job and a good happy place to live. I encourage you to vote for this and I don’t care what affiliation you are or who you are scared of. If you are afraid of someone I will go help you fight him. Let’s do this for Nevada. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand in strong support of AB 1. I was first elected in 1988. I came here in 1989, the very first session to enact the first part of class size reduction. It was the goal at that time to add one more grade every single session. How many grades did we get to? We are still at only three. Only three grades: first, second, and third grades—not even kindergarten—have the advantage of smaller class sizes. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if we would have been able to reach our goal and given all of the kids, all the way through high school, a better chance at their education with smaller class sizes? I was defeated after that first session and was then reelected the next session. We have to take a stand. Sometimes you have to choose to take a stand. I urge you, today, to take a stand for all of the children, including the gifted and talented children. Does this have enough funding for those programs for them? No, it doesn’t, but it is better than it used to be. I urge you to take a stand for those children who need remediation; who don’t speak English efficiently, or are in special education classes for some other reason. I urge you to take a stand to support our teachers. What is not in here is a beginning salary of $30,000 a year. That is not in here and it should be. I urge you to support the teachers in spite of that, who give their all, every single day, for all of the needs of our children. I urge you to take a stand for the children, not only in Clark County and Washoe County, but in the rural areas of our state as well. We have children all over this state that desperately need us to take a stand. It is a cowardly way, in my estimation, to give lip service and only give half a promise. With HR 1 breathing down our throats, we have so many things that we have to achieve and we are not going to be able to achieve all these mandates. To say that we are going to at least try with this bill but not fund it, that is a cowardly way, and I am not going to be a coward and I am proud to take a stand for these children and proud to spend the money to go with it. To give half a promise in this instance is to give no promise. Please vote for AB 1.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in opposition to AB 1. I would like to make three points. First, the facts about Nevada and about our education system have been thoroughly misrepresented by the “bash Nevada and tax and spend” crowd. Second, substantively, this is a bad bill, deeply contrary to the public interest in its tax provisions. A reasonable tax increase would be less than half the amount proposed here and it would not include a net-profits tax. I do support the education funding provisions of AB 1. Third, and finally, the process throughout the session by which the “bash Nevada and tax and spend crowd” has at long last brought us to a vote on these matters is a cynical travesty. It is an insult to each of us and to the people of Nevada. I will vote against this bill for these reasons. I believe Nevada voters will render a just verdict against its supporters. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am not afraid and I don’t believe everything I get off the Internet. I have received e-mails that say if I vote for this bill I won’t get reelected. I was given a very good public school education by the people who were grownups when I was a kid. Now, I am a grownup, and it’s my time. My time to pay the taxes that fund education and as a legislator, it is my time to fund education. I have lived here for fifteen years and I have read all the stuff you folks did before I got here. I am a freshman, and I followed the Governor’s task force and I read about the structural problem. Tonight I am very proud to be here. AB 1 is not a band-aid. It is the real deal, a bold stroke, and I am going to be proud to vote for this bill. I am proud to be a part of the community that says “yes” to education. I was on the Committee on Taxation and the tax plan is a good plan. It is fair. It has a broad-based business tax. Gaming will pay more, which I know is important to a lot of people. For me, what is important it that we are going to say no tonight to businesses profiting in Nevada but not contributing to the community. Everyone needs to contribute to the community and part of the responsibility is educating our children. I don’t have any children but it is still my responsibility to make sure the children in this community get educated. I support this bill and I will proudly, as a freshman, vote for it. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I regretfully rise in opposition to AB 1. I firmly believe that we are not funding education adequately in this state. I think we could have gone further in this budget. I want to be on record saying I am supportive of $869 million in new taxes because I think it is what we need to invest in the children of this state and the future of this state. This is the only opportunity that I have to speak on this issue. I am firmly committed to voting for $869 million. I am willing to do that on a bill that I think gets us there. I have no problems with the DSA being in here and I have no problems with the class size reduction being in here. My only problem is with the tax package that we came up with to address this. My colleague from District 9 pointed out so well, that we had ACR 1 and we had an interim committee looking at taxes. They took a net tax and threw it out saying it wasn’t good and it wasn’t stable or the best thing to do for Nevada. I came to this Special Session looking for the other options to fund the $869 million and the net bill I received to read in the committee yesterday is not the net bill that I received at 6:00 p.m. today. I have not had a chance to get through this portion of the net bill and I do not feel that I can support this tax package. If we can come back with another one that is at $869 million I will be happy to support it, but I don’t think this mix is the right thing for us or the right thing for the future of Nevada. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, I have to rise in opposition to this bill. In doing so, it causes me to vote against the Distributive School Account and the budget. We have been through a long process and I felt like I have been out there supporting education in committee. I have supported my colleague from District 9 and her bid to level the playing field and bring Nevada up to higher standards. Unfortunately, we win some and we lose some. I voted for certain cuts and for certain programs, some I was successful on, and some I was not successful on. We ended up with $869 million deficit revenue that is needed and it is unfortunate that our schools will continue to be number 49. We didn’t do our job correctly. Even at this point, I would vote for a bill to fund our schools and fund our State. I did not vote for the appropriation bill because it would have been irresponsible of me to vote for it without the funding mechanism. I applaud you for putting the funding mechanism in with the DSA. I think that is responsible. However, it would be irresponsible for me to go out there and support this bill when I know that the Senate has just killed a compatible bill that I would have been happier to support. Obviously there is no negotiation. Before we closed the budgets, my colleagues spent hours and days working over the numbers to come to a conclusive number and they reached $869 million. It was the leaders in this house and the leaders in the other house. Unfortunately, that process did not come together when working on the way to pay for the budget. I hope in the future, when we are considering these issues again, we will work as diligently as we did before finding a consensus on the budget amount and, just as diligently, the mechanism to pay for it.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In a way I have to agree with the Assemblyman from Assembly District 40. In the host city here, we see there is a great deal of bashing of education and it always amazes me that we never give the credit to the kids and what they do. I like to think of myself as being a new guy here, believe it or not. I look on each session as if I am a freshman because I think a freshman’s viewpoint is always the most important. I am an optimist. I will always be an optimist. I believe that tomorrow will be better than today. I believe it is going to be better tomorrow because we are going to make it that way. I have always had a Pollyanna view of the world and I do not intend to give that up. In 1995, we heard from the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Taxation that we could not continue on with class size reduction in the way it was going. I heard firm commitments from the members of this body, who are still here today, that they would turn back and recommit themselves to getting those necessary dollars in the future. I stood with hope and said, “The children of tomorrow will take that as a commitment from you.” I saw our numbers slip in comparison to the other states in this country. Our commitment slipped while we increased the burden on the kids in our classrooms in terms of what we consider to be accountability. We squeezed more out of them and made the road more vigorous. We expected more of them, but we didn’t give of the resources that we have. Now we have a little bit of the opportunity, not to make great gains, but to leave ourselves where we are. That is what we are going to do here. We are not going to move forward with a quantum leap into fourth grade class size reduction. We have given the rural areas a greater opportunity of flexibility based upon what is happening in Elko County. Our kids are doing the job. Their commitment is real. Our commitment has to be real, too.
In looking at the proclamation that brought us here several days ago, the Governor makes it clear that we are supposed to do this in one go. He has extended the time and the opportunity to do that. Since we are supposed to fix this, why would we not put it all together in one sound ball, one sound piece of legislation? That is what we have done. The Senate, our good colleagues down the hall, in all probability, is not going to get their spending package out. They have failed today. The burden then falls on us. We must move this forward. We must take care of the kids. We can hide behind and call this political rhetoric if you like, but the reality is each of us has to reach deep into their heart and vote what is there. I don’t think we can ask anymore of any of us.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have to rise in opposition to AB 1. Not because I am against education, but because I am for education. Each and every person in this body supports education. Each and every person supports funding education. What I object to is combining the education bill with a tax bill that is one of the largest in the State of Nevada’s history. We will be appropriating over $1 billion in new taxes over the biennium when extended out over the two year period. This is not something that I can support. This has been a very emotional issue to many of us. It has unfortunately been a very political issue. I get emotional about this, yes, but I try to make my decision based on common sense. In all common sense I cannot support a bill that raises a billion dollars in new tax money to support new programs, at this time, when our state is not in the state that it should be in. The economy is not there to support this funding. I resent being called cowardly because I will not support a billion dollar tax increase. I will vote note on AB 1 and I would like to see a bill come back where we can fund education properly. This bill is not about children; it is clearly about politics. So quit telling us that if we vote no we are voting against children, because that is not true. We all love children and we want the best for our children. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, thank you. It sounds to me like the perfect has become an enemy of the good. That is most unfortunate. I would like to thank Eileen Brookman, Lou Bergevin, Marvin Sedway, and Joe Dini, who sat in these chairs and did the tough things that allowed me to go to Howard Wasden Elementary School and have Ms. Peterson as my kindergarten teacher and Roz Cohen be my second grade teacher. It allowed me to go to Hyde Park and have Mr. Bruce as my principle and Miss Lawrence, who taught me English literature. Mr. Speaker, those people made tough decisions. They did the tough things and gave me the opportunity to have a good future. Have you been in a classroom in a while? Have you been in a classroom in Assembly District 10 in a while? Not up in Summerlin. Not in Green Valley. Let me tell what the classrooms are like there. You have people making no money, taking care of far too many kids, who come from very diverse backgrounds, doing a tough job with no materials, for long days. It is not like that in Gardnerville and Minden. It is not like that in Summerlin. It is not like that over in Reno. It is tough. These folks deserve some help. AB 1 is not only help it is hope.
It isn’t easy to raise taxes on business. It is hard to say to a businessman some of the money he has worked hard for has to be turned over to the government because we need to do the things we need to do. However, it is much more difficult to walk into classrooms in the older parts of town in Assembly District 10, not where it is fancy, but where the paint on the walls has fallen off, the books are tattered, and the teachers are worn out because they can’t understand the language the children are speaking. What we don’t understand, and what I am trying to tell you, is the people in Assembly District 10 and the businessman to whom we have to make that difficult choice, their futures, our futures, are tied together. They are inextricably tied together. The way we go as a state, our prosperity, our greatness, what we are going to become, are tied together in the classrooms of Assembly District 10 as much as they are tied together in the showroom floor of the Harley Davidson dealership, in the corporate board room of Wal-Mart, or in the corporate board room of Smith’s Food King. Their futures are tied together. That is why AB 1 has funding tied with education. They are together. I don’t know what is going to happen to this tax package. Everyone seems to be so knowledgeable, so smart, knows exactly what is going to happen and that everyone is going out of business. I have no clue. I really don’t. I can guess. I can use my mediocre education and my Bachelor’s degree to figure out what might happen, but I really don’t know. I do know what happens if we don’t pass this; kids don’t get a future. We cannot cloak ourselves in clichés that say the words “billions” to try to scare votes away. We cannot cower behind the cape of pusillanimity in an effort to save our own reelections. We cannot demagogue this thing to death so that we will never have to vote on anything. Let us not forget what futures are made of. All our futures are tied together. Please vote for AB 1.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker pro Tempore. I have some regrets that I will be voting against AB 1. I would like to go on the record that some of the nicest people I know used to be children. The process is not done. We have come here through a process and I think the communication that we now see is a communication that is good. We are going to be in that process however long it takes, but we will take care of the children. We will educate our children. We are products of the public education system and we have been appreciative of that. I agree with my colleague from District 31 that I would be optimistic and say there is definitely hope for education and hope for the funding mechanism. I think this particular package can be improved so I will be opposed to AB 1 and I am for education and I do love children, even eight of my own. Thank you, Mr. Speaker pro Tempore.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker pro Tempore. I rise in support of AB 1. Our state has had an interesting history. We were always able to rely on the revenue to fund this state from the gaming industry. For years that worked very well. We were very small and gaming paid the tab. We are not small any more. We are a diverse region. The explosion in population in our state is nothing short of remarkable. Every year we break records because of all the folks moving to Las Vegas. Gaming can no longer afford to pay the entire ticket to fund the educational system and the services that we need in this state. In every other state in the Nation there is a business tax. We have chosen one that has been chosen by forty-seven other states, a net profits tax. It is fair and reasonable. In every other state that has a business tax there is no difference in the prices they charge. When you go to California and buy a suit at Dillard’s you are paying the same price as you are here. We are not getting a break, yet they are getting the taxes to support their kids and we are not. That is the bottom line. That is why we came into this session. That is why every task force who has considered this issue for the past twenty years has said, “You have to stabilize your tax base.” It is time to add a reasonable business tax so that businesses will pay and we will have more stability to our tax structure. This is a fair tax plan. It has a net profits tax. People were concerned, saying, “We shouldn’t tax just based on grossed receipts, but rather on just what people make.” That is what this does. It raises taxes on business and gaming. It does not raise property taxes. People will not have to pay a tax when they get their haircut. They won’t have to pay a tax for going to a movie. It taxes businesses and gaming.
We sit here tonight and remarks have been made saying, “Oh, this is political. Why are you bringing it up because you know it is going to fail?” We are bringing it up for a vote because that is our duty. It is our duty to work in 120 days, come up with the best product that we can, and bring it up for a vote, up or down. I think I know the way this vote is going to go because it has been pretty clear over the last few days. What hasn’t been clear is why hasn’t someone figured out exactly what the problem is and do something about it. I applaud my colleagues from Boulder City, District 24, and District 25 because at least they say they have studied the problem and are willing to raise taxes to support education. They might not like this way to get there but at least they are ready to get there along with my colleague from Green Valley. This is our job. The people have voted. We are required to get our job done within 120 days and we can’t afford to waste time. People down in our districts are disgusted that we are still up here. When I joined office, Speaker Joe Dini said, “Barbara, there are two kinds of politicians. There are fixers and bashers.” There are people who come in, roll up their sleeves, and say “Hey, why don’t you change this? Why don’t you fix that?” The only thing I have heard is someone did a spreadsheet two months ago that shows waste in government. What is that? If someone has a suggestion on something that should be fixed, go over to the Governor and say, “Hey, I hear all this dispute about the number of Welfare workers. I don’t know what all that is about.” We are required by Federal law to process Welfare applications within forty-five days and if we don’t, we get sanctioned by the Federal government and the court can impose automatic presumptive eligibility and pay every person regardless of whether they are eligible.
So, we cut the budget in half because we thought they could barely skate by with that. If someone thought, no, we really could get rid of five more positions, go to the Governor and ask him. Ask him to hold the positions, bring those five to IFC. Let IFC withhold it until we see April’s caseload. That is fixing things. It is easy to step back and say, “Oh, I don’t like this number. I don’t like that number.” But you know what? That is not our job. We weren’t elected to demagogue. We weren’t elected to argue. We were elected to fix things. Right now we have teachers not being hired to teach our children. We will not have enough teachers in our classrooms to teach our children. The facts that my colleague from Assembly District 10 cited are absolutely right. That is what is happening in my district as well. Our schools need us and our kids need us. Is this tax plan perfect? I don’t think there is such a thing. I don’t think there is a perfect tax bill, but while everybody is fiddling around these halls it is our job to get consensus, get a bill that makes sense, and this is the best thing I have seen. I think we should do the right thing and stand up for education.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker pro Tempore. I, too, rise in very reluctant opposition of AB 1. I agree with many of the comments that have been said here tonight. I think this is a good budget. I supported this budget. I think the $868 million tax increase required to pay for it is an acceptable amount of money. I have been on record repeatedly supporting that as a tax increase. The Majority Leader and our colleague from District 9 talked about compromise. I think in the effort to compromise we took a tax package that we worked on for 120 days and kind of threw it away. We didn’t throw it all away but in effort to compromise I think we put some things on the table that we shouldn’t have put on the table. I don’t think we have taken that tax plan that we have seen over the last three days and given the attention and credit it deserves. When we go back to see what we need to do in the legislative body in terms of funding education it is not just in District 10 and it is not in the Majority Leader’s district. It is in Green Valley as well. All of these schools need attention. All of these schools need proper funding. I think we have the right budget; we just need to find the right way to get there. Thank you, Mr. Speaker pro Tempore.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker pro Tempore. It is always a challenge to follow the impact of the Majority Leader and have any impact on this body because as well as she speaks my remarks just seem to get lost. Let me apologize first as I had no plans to get up and speak today. However, as I listened to the debate, a very respectful and spirited debate, which is something I am proud of in this House, I felt compelled to say a little about this bill and where we are in the process.
First, let me hearken back to the beginning of our legislative session. Every single one of us stood on this floor, raised our right hand, and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Nevada. The Constitution of the State of Nevada says we have to have a balanced budget. We have debated that a little bit over the last couple of days and what that means and how it occurs. Yes, an education bill can pass before a tax bill passes. But you can tell from the debate in here and the actions down the hall, there was no tax bill or funding bill passing. Not today or in the near future. There are those that are concerned about, and perhaps even offended, by us rolling the DSA into the tax bill. I will separate them right now if you will stand up here and tell us you will vote for taxes. I will do it right now. I don’t expect I will get many takers there either.
This debate reminded me of a few remarks I made at the beginning of session. With your indulgence I will repeat a couple of them. “We will decide if Nevada has a full complement of teachers, excited and energetic in their own right because they are well prepared, well paid, and have the resources to do their jobs. We will decide if our children are demoralized, schooled in trailers that do little more than take up playground space, without textbooks to call their own. Ten years from now I want our children to experience a Nevada recognized for its world-class educational system. I want our children to have opportunities we never had. Any effective government should not be an impediment to opportunity. We may struggle for the next 120 days, (I guess I could have changed that one) and we may disagree over which revenues to increase and which programs to fund and which to cut, but nobody has
ever claimed the legislative process to be easy or pretty to watch. We cannot allow ineffectiveness to stand in the way of doing what is right for Nevada, not just my district and certainly not just my party, but for my state and for our state. The pundits have been focused on one-third. They have been focused on that number for weeks. Not with respect to the number of our new members, but reminding us instead that one-third of the house can block any increase in revenue. The pundits would be better served to focus on the enthusiasm and fresh ideas of the one-third of our members who are new. Rarely do we see a freshman class with this much talent.”
I stand by my statements about this freshman class, but I would also correct myself that perhaps the pundits were right, focusing on the one-third of this body that can hold up a revenue increase. The Majority Leader said it right, AB 1 taxes gaming and big business to fund education, no sales tax and no property tax. It protects the average taxpayer and small business. I am not going to stand here and tell you that we are all so naive and believe taxes on business aren’t in some fashion passed on through to the consumer. We all know that, but at least it levels the playing field with those businesses in other states.
You have all probably read the Clark County School District has only hired 200 of the over 1,000 teachers they need to have for the upcoming fall. They have offered contracts that people won’t accept because they don’t know if the funding is going to be there. What are we doing by that? The best and the brightest teachers are going to go to a state where there is more stability. They are going to pass over Nevada. As it is, we are not even competitive in wages with some places. We are losing the opportunity to have the best for our kids. The teachers are going to go somewhere else.
This package isn’t perfect. No compromise plan is. That is because it is a product of compromise, at this point, more than 120 days of compromise. We can all go through and see individual revenue that we don’t like but, collectively, I think it is a good package. Lastly, Mr. Speaker pro Tempore, the nicest people I know are still children.
Assemblyman Arberry, Oceguera, and Goldwater moved the previous question.
The question being on the passage of Assembly Bill No. 1:
Roll call on Assembly Bill No. 1:
Nays—Andonov, Angle, Beers, Brown, Christensen, Geddes, Gibbons, Goicoechea, Grady, Griffin, Gustavson, Hardy, Hettrick, Knecht, Mabey, Marvel, Sherer, Weber—18.
Assembly Bill No. 1 having failed to receive a two-thirds majority, Mr. Speaker pro Tempore declared it lost.
Mr. Speaker pro Tempore announced if there were no objections, the Assembly would recess subject to the call of the Chair.
Assembly in recess at 8:12 p.m.
ASSEMBLY IN SESSION
At 9:22 p.m.
Mr. Speaker presiding.
Quorum not present.
GUESTS EXTENDED PRIVILEGE OF ASSEMBLY FLOOR
On request of Assemblyman Christensen, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Race Christensen and Ashley Christensen.
Assemblywoman Buckley moved that the Assembly adjourn until Sunday, June 8, 2003 at 10 a.m.
Assembly adjourned at 9:22 p.m.
Approved: Richard D. Perkins
Attest: Jacqueline Sneddon