MINUTES OF THE meeting
ASSEMBLY Committee on Ways and Means
March 22, 2001
The Committee on Ways and Meanswas called to order at 3:44 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2001. Chairman Morse Arberry Jr. presided in Room 3137 of the Legislative Building, Carson City, Nevada. Exhibit A is the Agenda. Exhibit B is the Guest List. All exhibits are available and on file at the Research Library of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
Mr. Morse Arberry Jr., Chairman
Ms. Chris Giunchigliani, Vice Chairwoman
Mrs. Barbara Cegavske
Mrs. Vonne Chowning
Mrs. Marcia de Braga
Mr. Joseph Dini, Jr.
Mr. David Goldwater
Mr. Lynn Hettrick
Mr. John Marvel
Mr. David Parks
Mr. Richard D. Perkins
Ms. Sandra Tiffany
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT:
Mr. Bob Beers (Excused)
Ms. Sheila Leslie (Excused)
GUEST LEGISLATORS PRESENT:
Mr. John Carpenter, Assembly District 33
Mr. Dennis Nolan, Clark County Assembly District 13
Ms. Kathy McClain, Clark County Assembly District 15
Ms. Sharron Angle, Washoe Assembly District 29
STAFF MEMBERS PRESENT:
Mark Stevens, Fiscal Analyst
Steve Abba, Principal Deputy Fiscal Analyst
Cindy Clampitt, Committee Secretary
Chairman Arberry opened the meeting and welcomed Assemblyman Marvel to testify on A.B. 5.
Assemblyman John Marvel, Assembly District 34, noted the Bill Draft Request for A.B. 5 had been submitted one week after the close of the 1999 session.
Mr. Marvel stated the issue with the northern counties in the state was one of holding the interest of residents to remain in rural areas. Mining in those communities had become very marginal. He added rural areas had people, resources, land, water, and clean air, and the one thing needed was the ability to retrain the people so it would be conducive to inviting new industries to move in.
Mr. Marvel introduced Dr. Ron Remington, President, Great Basin College, and Lisa Costa Campbell, Director, Winnemucca Campus, Great Basin College. He noted students from the Great Basin College System were present in the audience. English, as a Second Language (ESL) students were present with their instructor, Ms. Rossana Soltani.
Dr. Ron Remington, President, Great Basin College, noted his remarks would be brief because he wanted the residents of Winnemucca to have an opportunity to provide their testimony.
Dr. Remington stated High Tech Centers were a very good idea. He noted the northeastern portion of the state desperately needed occupational education opportunities. He added, the Great Basin College, Winnemucca Campus, under the direction of Lisa Costa Campbell, had seen tremendous growth in enrollment. The 26 percent growth in enrollment came at a time when the economy was down.
Dr. Remington testified Great Basin College had developed an elementary education program and it was believed the program should be contiguous with opportunities for professional development of existing teachers. The high tech facility proposed by A.B. 5 would provide that type of professional development.
Ms. Lisa Costa Campbell, Director, Winnemucca Campus, Great Basin College, testified Winnemucca was situated in an isolated area of Nevada located at least 120 miles from Elko, Nevada, and 165 miles from any other institution of higher education.
Ms. Costa Campbell provided committee members with a pamphlet covering the proposed Great Basin College High Tech Center (Exhibit C). She explained the facility would be a 28,000 square-foot facility patterned on successful models throughout the state. Ms. Costa Campbell noted the cost of $5 million was comparable to higher facilities developed throughout the state. She noted the high cost was related to construction costs that had escalated.
Ms. Costa Campbell said the facility would be a joint-use facility with the Humboldt County School District and Great Basin College. She noted the two schools were located across from each other in Winnemucca. The two schools had a good working relationship and the proximity was conducive to the addition of another facility.
Mr. Costa Campbell noted Exhibit C included a proposed floor plan for the new facility. She stated some of the highlights would include computer technology laboratories with a Microsoft-certified systems engineer. She noted that the program had been developed the previous year, but it did not yet have a permanent home. A diesel technology program was underway in a rented facility.
Ms. Costa Campbell stated the college would like to play a strong part in economic development and training and retraining individuals within the community and providing young people opportunities to grow.
Ms. Costa Campbell explained smart classrooms were classrooms that would allow the college to expand their opportunities and instruction through interactive videoconferencing.
Ms. Costa Campbell stated the map in Exhibit C indicated the extensive service region served by Great Basin College. A High Tech Center would allow the college the opportunity to deliver and receive instruction. It would provide a strength and breadth of programs and would allow two additional classrooms to facilitate those efforts.
Ms. Costa Campbell noted Great Basin College currently had an adult education, ESL program, however, it was located in a facility that lacked running water, restroom facilities, and Internet access, yet the program was strongly supported by the community and as the census figures had indicated, the Hispanic population in Humboldt County was increasing. The need for such services would only become greater.
Ms. Costa Campbell explained the college was very fortunate to have 26 percent growth in the spring semester for a campus total of 172 students. She noted that enrollment growth was 40 percent or more since 1997. Of notable interest was the growth came at a time when the community was experiencing significant economic changes. Mining had been the predominant industry in the area. The college had tried to become an “anchor” for the community and promote programs and retraining. She noted without additional equipment or facilities, they would not be able to provide solid, quality programs. She stressed the current enrollment was the highest in the Winnemucca Campus history.
Chairman Arberry referred to the map in Exhibit C and asked if the High Tech Center would be located in Elko. Ms. Costa Campbell replied the facility was planned for the Winnemucca Campus.
Mr. Marvel explained the core of Great Basin College was located in Elko, but the Winnemucca Campus had a very strong presence and reached out to many communities surrounding it. He acknowledged the funding issues for the next biennium, but stressed even a lower financial request that could be added to in a later budget would help. He added the High Tech Center requests, whether they were in Humboldt, Elko, Douglas, or Lyon Counties, were all worthy causes.
Chairman Arberry asked if any of the potential students for the Winnemucca Campus High Tech Center would need to be bused to the location for classes. Ms. Costa Campbell replied in the negative. She added the map (Exhibit C) reflected the entire service region of Great Basin College to show the size of the service area. She stated there would be no busing issues because the campus would be directly adjacent to the current facility and Lowry High School was across the street. She added individuals did come from outlying areas, however, 40 or 60 miles was not a long distance in the rural areas to drive for classes.
Assemblyman Goldwater asked if the Board of Regents had any jurisdiction at all over funding for such an institution. Mr. Marvel replied the High Tech Center in Winnemucca was on the list that requested some funding from the Board of Regents, but it had not survived the cuts.
Mr. Gerald Rockstad, Vice Principal, Lowry High School, spoke in support of the High Tech Center in Winnemucca. He noted for many years across northern Nevada the partnership and working relationships between school districts and Great Basin Community College had been a worthwhile and positive experience.
Mr. Rockstad stated the center would benefit students of Lowry High School because they could literally cross the street and take college courses for dual credit. He noted the high school and the college worked closely in development of new programs and expanded offerings for students.
Mr. Rockstad stressed one factor that contributed to the popularity of the Winnemucca Campus was the advent of the Millennium Scholarship Program. As a high school administrator, it was rewarding to discuss post-high school academics with a student who was able to say he or she was a Millennium Scholar with pride. He noted some of those students had never thought of being able to attend college. He added the Millennium Scholarship Program would place more and more pressure on the campuses around the state.
Mr. Marvel asked how many Lowry High School students had taken advantage of the Millennium Scholarship Program the previous year. Mr. Rockstad replied he did not know the exact numbers, but it was a large number of students.
Ms. Nadine Raynor, student, stated she was enrolled at Great Basin College, Winnemucca Campus, in the Microsoft Certification Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Business Office Technology degree program. She noted the MCSE students ranged from high school students to students retrained from the work force. She added the program had a 90 percent student retention record. She stated one student had withdrawn due to job relocation.
Ms. Raynor stated students had the interest, desire, and need for the technical courses, workshops, and degree programs. She added instruction was currently held in a regular classroom. She explained students worked on laptop computers with the laboratory manuals propped on their knees due to lack of space.
Ms. Raynor testified that a permanent building would allow students to pursue their course study in high tech fields at Great Basin College. She stated Great Basin College, from their hub in Elko, covered an area of 45,000 square miles. Future technology students would benefit from a permanent technology building and passage of A.B. 5.
Assemblywoman Chowning spoke briefly with the next witness in Spanish, welcoming her and her students to the hearing.
Ms. Rossana Soltani, Administrator, ESL Program, Great Basin College, explained why more space was needed. She provided committee members with a pictorial packet showing why more space was needed for ESL courses (Exhibit D).
Ms. Soltani referred to page 1 showing the trailer which housed ESL classes located next to the main building of Great Basin College. Ms. Soltani noted the ESL program featured enhanced reading and writing communication in English for improvement of employability and life skills. She noted students were prepared for citizenship examinations, computer literacy, parental academic support, safety awareness, and driver’s license preparation, among others.
Ms. Soltani stressed program accountability and student advancement was measured by government standards. Classes were offered during the day and evening hours taught by a staff of seven teachers. There were 98 students registered for 2001 and no fees were charged.
Ms. Soltani stated the trailer was a single-wide unit and the teacher’s station was next to the reading class. She noted up to 25 people were located in the trailer on any given day. Exhibit D, page 5, showed space allotted for computer and writing classes. A corner was also set aside for audio/video presentations.
Ms. Soltani concluded her testimony stating, more space was needed for the ESL program to increase effectiveness through fewer noise and traffic interruptions from concurrent programs. Restroom, heating, air conditioning, and lighting equipment needed improvement. Adequate space was needed for computers and audio/visual areas. An area needed to be set aside for tutoring of special needs students.
Ms. Nancy Rosasco, member, Great Basin College Foundation Board, stated she was a big booster for community colleges and their mission. She noted she and her husband owned and operated a cattle ranch south of Golconda. She testified her involvement with community colleges went back to 1975 and she had served on the governing board of another college in another state for 25 years. She explained during that experience she had been fortunate to travel across the country and visit a number of community colleges in other states and to observe a variety of educational opportunities.
Ms. Rosasco explained the dynamics of community colleges included the ability to accomplish a great deal in a very cost-effective manner. She had the opportunity to tour the Carson City High Tech Center just prior to its opening for students and had gone away very excited by the concept of a single center serving the educational needs of both high school and community college students. She explained high school students took courses during the early part of the day and college students typically attended class at night.
Ms. Rosasco stated from her ranch it was 2.75 hours from Reno and 1.75 hours to Elko. The primary mode of transportation was by automobile, unless an individual owned an airplane, which was very rare. She stressed a high percentage of residents accessing the Winnemucca college lived from 30 to 90 minutes away from the campus, also, it was possible a student lived at the very end of a long, dirt road. She noted her ranch was accessed by nine miles of dirt road after leaving the highway.
Ms. Rosasco stressed it was her hope, as a member of the community, that each student would have reasonable access to education needs, whether they were seeking a two-year or four-year degree, or a vocational certificate. She noted each person should have access to gainful employment through which to support themselves and their families and through which to contribute to their community. Ms. Rosasco stated a High Tech Center in Winnemucca would be a large step toward achievement of that goal for the northeast area of Nevada.
Ms. Rosasco noted community colleges provided the resource that businesses and industry could approach to access short- or long-term training needed in a particular field. She stated displaced workers often needed retraining that community colleges could provide. She added appropriate training centers were always an incentive for new industry to locate in a new area.
Ms. Rosasco informed the committee that the local community was very excited about the possibility of a technology center in Winnemucca and would find many ways to support the project. She noted the concept of A.B. 5 was a classic example of two institutions pooling their resources to do what neither could accomplish alone.
Ms. Rosasco acknowledged state finances were tight and there would be many people before the committee seeking support for a wide variety of worthy projects, however, it was believed the Winnemucca project would be cost-effective and one to have a profound economic impact on the viability of northeast Nevada.
Mr. Doug Busselman, Executive Vice President, Nevada Farm Bureau, testified in support of A.B. 5. He noted Nevada Farm Bureau policy, developed and adopted by the membership at the most recent annual meeting, stated support for the concept of technology centers serving as joint educational training centers for high schools and community colleges. The Farm Bureau believed the technology centers to be an effective and cost-efficient means to meet the educational and employee training needs of Nevada’s local communities. He stressed the Farm Bureau supported A.B. 5 and other such requests for centers throughout the state.
Mr. Jim Richardson, representing Nevada Faculty Alliance Chapters, mentioned the Winnemucca center as well as the one proposed for Douglas County by Assemblyman Hettrick and testified they were a boon to the areas where they were built. They were a boon to students who desperately needed the types of training such centers offered. He commented, once the doors of such a facility were opened, they were filled with students. He suggested committee members visit a facility currently in operation. Mr. Richardson urged support for the Winnemucca facility and any others proposed during the 2001 Legislative Session.
Chairman Arberry closed the hearing on A.B. 5 and opened the hearing on A.B. 278.
Assemblyman John Carpenter, Assembly District 33, introduced Assemblyman Nolan and Assemblywoman Kathy McClain.
Mr. Carpenter stated A.B. 278 as written, provided for the state to appropriate $100,000 to the World War II Memorial Fund in honor of Nevada residents that served in the Armed Forces during World War II. The memorial would be located on the Mall in Washington D.C. He stated it also provided $50,000 for the Nevada Veteran’s Center and Museum in the southern part of the state.
Mr. Carpenter testified many organizations and private individuals had contributed funds to the memorial. Additionally, a number of people had expressed their opinion that the state of Nevada, using tax money, should also contribute to the memorial. Research had shown that most states had contributed to the memorial in an amount coinciding with the number of World War II veterans that were in the war from that state. He stated World War II veterans in Nevada numbered 21,000.
Mr. Carpenter stated Mr. Nolan would discuss the public opinion that Nevada should contribute some tax funds to the memorial. He stressed the sponsors of the bill recommended A.B. 278 be passed out of the Assembly and transmitted to the Senate without a fiscal appropriation. He noted in the southern part of the state, more than $38,000 had been raised through organizations and individuals for the memorial.
Mr. Carpenter noted a northern Nevada radio personality had raised over $65,000 for the memorial. He added a decision needed to be made on how funds for the memorial would be contributed from Nevada.
Mrs. Chowning asked for clarification that the recommendation from Mr. Carpenter was to pass A.B. 278 without an appropriation. Mr. Carpenter replied the sponsors of the bill believed that would be best. The radio personality from Reno had been unable to attend the hearing, so all interested parties needed to meet and decide exactly how the private donations should be used. Considering the private donations, it was not the proper time to ask for any specific funding from taxpayers in Nevada. Mrs. Chowning clarified, passage of the bill with the amendment would still show support for the World War II Memorial.
Chairman Arberry asked if the appropriation was removed from A.B. 278, who would control the privately donated funds. Mr. Carpenter replied there were some individuals present who might have opinions on how control of the funds should be handled. He added all interested parties needed to meet to form a plan that would satisfy everyone and yet show Nevada’s support for the memorial.
Assemblyman Dennis Nolan, Clark County Assembly District 13, stated A.B. 278 came about because many legislators saw the inherent need for Nevada to be represented in provision of funds on behalf of the state toward the memorial. He explained approximately two years previous he had attended a National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) meeting and while viewing the exhibits, he had seen a large display presented by the World War II Memorial sponsors. One of the exhibits had been a colored map with four blank spots represented with a question mark. He stated Nevada was one of the blank spots. It had been explained to him that blank spots represented states that had not contributed anything toward the memorial. Mr. Nolan stated, upon his return to Nevada, he had requested a bill draft for the memorial. He noted since that time all but two states had contributed to the fund.
Mr. Nolan explained of the 49 states that had made contributions, those funds had been contributed through the political entities rather than private donations. He added organizations’ donations and private donations had been received in addition to public appropriations.
Mr. Nolan read a letter into the record that was contained in Exhibit E. Actor Tom Hanks wrote the first letter dated February 28, 2001.
I am sorry I cannot be there on the floor of the Nevada State Legislature as you discuss passage of the National World War II Memorial legislation. From this great distance, however, you should know the sound you hear is my applauding your efforts.
The great freedoms we all enjoy now in the opening years of the 21st Century were saved for us almost 60 years ago. Twin empires, as evil as those in the fantasy stories in the movies we see today, were mercilessly conquering the world in the darkest days of our global history. Were it not for the volunteerism, the sacrifice, and the sensibilities of the generation of Americans in the prime of their youth in 1941, our nation and the world could have been very different places.
As late as June of 1944, the end of the largest armed conflict in the history of mankind was in doubt and the future of the world still up for grabs. The American veterans of that World War, many of whom reside in the state of Nevada, helped make the difference between victory and defeat and brought the war to a swifter end.
In the Mall of our nation’s capitol is a place where we honor those who have shaped America by their direct actions and sacrifices, and there the National World War II Memorial must be built. The men and women who will be honored there did nothing less than save the world.
God speed your efforts.
Mr. Nolan stated Mr. Hanks and former U.S. Senator Bob Dole had been the driving force behind the building of a World War II Memorial. Both had written letters supporting the efforts of A.B. 278.
Mr. Nolan explained Exhibit E contained those two letters and one written by the Office of Veterans’ Services. He noted the letter from the Office of Veterans’ Services indicated how much money had been raised from private sources on behalf of Nevada. The total contributions were approaching approximately $70,000. He noted there was one fund-raising effort for which a total dollar amount was unknown. Exhibit E also contained a chart showing the status of contributions from other states.
Mr. Nolan testified the World War II Memorial Commission had asked each of the states to contribute $1 for every individual who had served in the conflict from that particular state. Nevada had the fewest number of enlistees at 21,000. He noted that several states had appropriated much more than what they were asked to give.
Mr. Nolan stated Rusty Humphries, radio talk show host on KOH radio in northern Nevada and a long-time supporter of veterans and veterans’ efforts, had started a campaign approximately one year previous to raise funds on behalf of the state of Nevada. Mr. Humphries’ quest was to raise funds from private sources so that the taxpayers of the state would not have to feel the burden of a contribution.
Mr. Nolan provided an e-mail letter from Mr. Humphries for the committee’s review (Exhibit F). Mr. Nolan stated that Mr. Humphries had contacted some legislators, among them, Senator Raggio and Assemblywoman Angle, and felt he had struck an agreement that they would drop their bills regarding the memorial. He explained he understood the agreement to be, that if the state had not contributed any taxpayer funds for the memorial, he would release the funds he had collected for the project. The funds had been placed into an account to be held because the listeners to his show did not wish the legislature to hold the funds. Mr. Nolan noted the amount in the radio account was between $40,000 and $50,000.
Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Nolan had been contacted by many citizens of the state who felt they had paid tax dollars to the state and for the state not to contribute some type of appropriation was a slight to the veteran taxpayers. Mr. Nolan stated that while Mr. Humphries had good intentions, he might inadvertently be disenfranchising some of the veterans who felt it was government’s responsibility to provide some type of monetary contribution to the project.
Mr. Nolan concluded his remarks providing his support of Mr. Carpenter’s recommendation to pass A.B. 278 without appropriation, pass the bill to the Senate, and discuss a final draft after the Economic Forum meeting in May 2001.
Chairman Arberry stated the committee would prefer to keep the bill in the Assembly until a financial determination was made.
Assemblywoman Kathy McClain, Clark County Assembly District 15, relayed her background with the bill. She explained her reason for honoring World War II veterans was because her father had been an 18-year-old veteran of that war and served in the European theater. She knew of the struggles her mother encountered and noted her mother had been a “Rosie the Riveter” at a munitions factory during that time.
Ms. McClain noted the only two states that had not contributed to the memorial were Nevada and Hawaii, which had not even been a state at the time. She explained she had many World War II constituents in her district.
Ms. McClain stated the issue regarding the Bill Draft Request had not been amicable and she had refused to allow A.B. 278 to be withdrawn because the issue was so important. Nevada needed to show support for the veterans by spending tax money contributed by veterans in the state over the past 50 years.
Ms. McClain referred to Section 1, subsection 2 of A.B. 278, regarding the appropriation of $50,000 from the General Fund to the Nevada Veterans’ Organizations for use at the Nevada Veterans’ Center and Museum. She stated she had supported an addition of the request to the bill to allow it to receive a fair hearing.
Ms. McClain testified the museum was relatively new and occupied the old Lowden Center. The Lowden family had donated the facility to the veterans’ museum. She introduced Ed and Carol Gobel, curators of the museum.
Mr. Goldwater asked for an explanation of the time line involved with the need for contribution to the World War II Veterans’ Memorial. He explained his father had been a veteran of that war and earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He opined $21,000 was not really a large contribution, but considering the population of Nevada at the time of the war, they represented a large portion of the 1940s population. He commented that his father, and many other World War II veterans, were passing away and it seemed appropriate to move the project forward while there were still veterans of the war to see it.
Mr. Nolan replied he appreciated Mr. Goldwater’s comments and added, his father too, was a lieutenant on a B-17 during the war and was shot down, rescued by a resistance group, received the Purple Heart, and he was very proud of that fact. He added his father-in-law was also in the cavalry and had been highly decorated as well. He explained the project had been sited for the Mall in Washington, D.C. It had not yet broken ground although sufficient funds had been received to start the project. Any further contributions would be used for maintenance and to pay for additional personnel to staff the visitors’ center. He noted part of the memorial would include a plaque reflecting the contributions made on behalf of the various states.
Mr. Carpenter concurred with Ms. McClain’s comments and stressed the reason he had become a sponsor on the bill was because a number of veterans in Elko had contacted him. He commented, if everyone could have met prior to the hearing, it might have been possible to come to a more solid agreement prior to the hearing on the bill. He noted a conflict did exist because some legislators withdrew their bills based on the private contributions, thus he recommended the committee take whatever action it felt was appropriate as long as a contribution was made to the memorial reflecting Nevada’s support.
Mr. Ed Gobel, President, Council of Nevada Veterans’ Organizations, stated he rose in support of the bill. He thanked the sponsors of the bill and noted while it was true, the museum was in southern Nevada, it encompassed stories of veterans throughout the state. He listed the following members of the board for the museum:
· Judge Lloyd George, United States Senior Court Judge;
· Senator Richard Bryan, who had also donated an original photograph of the U.S.S. Nevada;
· Medal of Honor winner, Colonel Lou Mullet;
· General Harry Aderholt, Air Force; and
· Councilwoman Lynette Boggs McDonald.
He commented the museum was a 12,000 square-foot facility that benefited and honored veterans of both World Wars. The museum’s two mission statements were: (1) “To make sure to teach current and future generations why ordinary citizens would risk everything they had, including their very lives, to defend the values upon which the United States was built.” (2) “To make sure no veteran would simply die and be buried in a cemetery, but would live on forever on the walls of the museum.”
Mr. Gobel added, the museum included memorabilia from the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, including both the European and Pacific theaters of operation, Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and a new exhibit being built honored the Tuskegee Airmen. He noted the museum included a veteran’s library, which contained books from the Library of Congress, combat art, photographic exhibits, and meeting rooms for veterans.
Mr. Gobel stated the museum sponsored educational programs for the community, teaching children that the United States really was worth fighting for. A 24-hour hotline handled over 3,000 calls a day. The museum sponsored a veteran’s band of professional musicians and conducted tours for senior citizens. The museum was beginning an outreach program into some of the senior citizen mobile home parks.
Mr. Gobel testified they hoped to acquire a 21,000 square-foot facility through the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority. That would make the museum larger than the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. He added the state of Louisiana had appropriated $7 million for that museum. He noted the request in A.B. 278 was for a $50,000 appropriation.
Mr. Gobel provided committee members with a packet including an explanation of the project, letters of support, and news articles written about the museum (Exhibit G). Mr. Gobel read the last sentence of Commissioner Dario Herrera’s letter, “The museum and veterans’ center will provide a great service for Clark County and the state of Nevada.”
Mr. Gobel read into the record a letter from the Charleston Neighborhood Preservation Corporation (CNP), written by Juanita Clark, CNP Board Member (Exhibit G).
We are intellectually inspired and emotionally overwhelmed by the impact which the contents of the Lowden Center and Veterans’ Museum has on those of us who pass the threshold at 3333 Cambridge here.
A.B. 278 for approval of funds which is in your committee is guaranteed to provide the utmost value to residents of the state of Nevada and visitors due to the positive impact even just entering this sensitive array of ACTUAL uniforms, not Hollywood versions, in real settings, provides.
If you have visited this museum, you are beyond what reading any words about the experience can provide.
Educational as well as structural additions are needed to allow those of all ages to be forever changed regarding any feelings they may have had about the sincerity of intent and the sacrifices made for our freedoms.
Measuring the positive, dynamic, internal assessment influence which observers gain by simply entering this museum is evident by a maturing of actions. We urge you all to pass A.B. 278.
We invite you to visit and revisit this Veterans’ Museum. You will realize the significance of this museum and why Nevada would be an even better place if we had had a Veterans’ Museum 60 years ago!
Mr. Gobel provided the committee with a two-page photo collage from the museum (Exhibit H). He explained some of the exhibits pictured were:
Mr. Gobel explained all the medals belonged to Nevada veterans and were on loan to the museum. He continued listing exhibits shown in the photographs of Exhibit I:
Mr. Gobel stated the World War II Memorial needed support, but there also needed to be some type of memorial within Nevada. He noted the bill did not request as much as other states had done for their museums.
Vice Chair Giunchigliani stated she had seen the museum and commended Mr. Gobel on his efforts with the museum. She referred to Exhibit G, which included letters from Clark County Commissioners Dario Herrera and Bruce Woodbury. She asked if local governments had contributed any funding to the museum. Mr. Gobel replied the county had assisted with the $100,000 needed for improvements to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Other letters of support from remaining commissioners were anticipated shortly.
Vice Chair Giunchigliani asked if Mr. Gobel supported A.B. 278, even if Section 1, subsection 2, was removed. Mr. Gobel concurred.
Chairman Arberry asked for any further testimony in favor of the bill.
Mr. Bill Fiedrich, a veteran and taxpayer, provided written testimony (Exhibit J) regarding A.B. 278. He suggested the bill be amended to remove the $100,000 appropriation for the World War II Veterans’ Memorial. He noted no one was against the memorial.
Mr. Fiedrich noted Mr. Humphries’ challenge and stated he understood the legislature had accepted the challenge. He explained that on Veterans’ Day 2000, Governor Guinn had pledged to Rusty Humphries and the taxpayers of Nevada that the taxpayers’ money would not be spent if the needed $21,000 could be raised privately.
Mr. Fiedrich noted Assemblywoman Sharron Angle had recruited him to help and they had worked on fund-raisers, cookouts, donating time and money and it was his understanding private donations currently totaled approximately $61,000.
Mr. Fiedrich had not served in World War II, but he had served with many men who did. He explained he had been an instructor and prisoner of war interrogator stationed at Stead Air Force Base in the 1950s. He noted he had served with a master sergeant who had been part of the Bataan Death March and that gentleman told him stories that were horrific. He had also served with another sergeant who had been a tail gunner on a B-29 aircraft.
Mr. Fiedrich told of another instructor at Stead who had been in a POW camp during World War II and told a gruesome story.
The prisoners were starving to death. Each day the dead bodies of prisoners were piled in one corner of the compound. The next morning, the bodies would be gone. Guess where they went.
Mr. Fiedrich told the story of John Oliphint, called the Mad Rebel, who had written a book. Mr. Oliphint flew P-47s and P-51s over France and Germany. He was an Air Force ace pilot. Mr. Oliphint had been shot down, crash-landed, was severely injured, captured, and brutally tortured. Mr. Oliphint had escaped through the underground and held 43 decorations and awards, including the Silver Star, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, Air Medals, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and many more. Mr. Fiedrich noted Mr. Oliphint had autographed his copy of the book and had written, “Freedom is not free.”
Mr. Fiedrich stated if the $100,000 appropriation were approved, the state would get a “freebie.” He explained military personnel were owed the very shirts off of peoples’ backs for the freedom they preserved. He stated some legislators wanted to feel good on the taxpayers’ money. He noted he had contributed through the private donations and asked not to be requested to give again through taxes. He stated if legislators wanted to feel good they should write a contribution check from their personal accounts.
Mr. Gene Munnings, citizen, testified at the request of Rusty Humphries. He explained when Mr. Humphries began his fund-raisers, he thought it had been done with an agreement from the legislature that no taxpayer appropriation would be made, because Mr. Humphries would raise more than double the amount suggested for Nevada’s contribution to the memorial. He noted over $61,000 had already been raised and the amount was still growing.
Mr. Munnings stated one clause in the fund-raisers was, that if the legislature made any appropriation to the memorial, the money raised would all be returned to the givers. He stressed Mr. Humphries had spoken with sponsors of the memorial in Washington, D.C. and the funds from private donations would be contributed in “the name of the people of Nevada.” He added that would allow the $100,000 requested in the bill to be used for other needs in the state.
Mr. Munnings remarked he was not a veteran, however, his wife was a veteran of the Viet Nam War and his father was a veteran of the Korean War.
Mr. Tim Tetz, veteran, and member of the American Legion, Department of Nevada, testified he was representing the 8,000 American Legion members within the state and the over 200,000 veterans currently within the state. He stated for the record, the American Legion was not a member of Mr. Gobel’s organization.
Mr. Tetz stated his organization was overjoyed to have seen there were several Bill Draft Requests, similar in nature to the provisions of A.B. 278. He expressed that the World War II veterans had been long-forgotten in Washington, D.C.
In 1994, work began to establish a war memorial for those forgotten veterans. He stated the original concept for funding the memorial was donations from each of the 48 states in amounts equal to the number of World War II veterans in each state. He reiterated Nevada was the only remaining state to contribute to the endeavor. Passage of A.B. 278 would ensure the United States provided a lasting tribute to the world of the heroism, sacrifices, and perseverance of the World War II veterans.
Mr. Tetz requested Section 1, subsection 2, be removed from the bill. He explained that section relating to the Council of Nevada Veterans’ Organizations and their museum had nothing to do with the World War II Memorial. He noted it was unfair to hide such a request within the verbiage of an otherwise worthy bill. He stressed it would set a dangerous precedent for future veterans’ projects and renovations. He asked what was to stop every American Legion Post in Nevada from requesting funding for post renovations through the Nevada budget. Mr. Tetz asked why the state should pay the bill if the eternal flame for veterans’ in Reno needed refurbished. He stressed a privately-funded veterans museum should not be singled out for a $50,000 grant when many state-owned museums often struggled to find funding for their operating needs. He suggested a memorial to Nevada veterans would be more appropriately funded through the Nevada State Museum.
Mr. Tetz stated he was aware of certain facts that might influence decisions regarding A.B. 278.
Mr. Tetz referred to correspondence from Mr. Humphries, which stated the legislature should not fund the memorial without a vote of the people, and stated the committee members were the representatives of the people and he had voted for his Assemblyperson.
Mr. Tetz referred to the $60,000-plus donations received by Mr. Humphries and the $8,000 collected by the Nevada World War II Committee, and the funds the American Legion raised, and stated those donations came from a few listeners or a few fortunate members of communities. It did not represent the population at large.
Mr. Tetz quoted actor Tom Hanks in his support of the national memorial. “It is appropriate and timely that our nation honors those ordinary Americans who preserved our freedom and literally helped save the world from tyranny – they changed the course of history.”
Mr. Tetz noted World War II veterans were passing away at a rate of more than 1,000 per day. He urged the committee to send a strong message to every World War II veteran that they were not forgotten.
Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, Washoe Assembly District 29, stated she was indeed representing her district with A.B. 278. She explained in January 1999 she and Senator Washington had gone to a conference where they learned of the memorial project. Both were touched. Ms. Angle testified her father was a World War II Navy veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart and he was 78 years old. She noted that meant there was not much time left for him to see the memorial project come to fruition.
She stated Rusty Humphries had approached her and Senator Washington and offered the challenge that had been discussed earlier. They had both taken the challenge and, in fact, had decided to help Mr. Humphries in his efforts. She noted a benefit had been held in July 2000, and her father and several other World War II veterans had attended and told their stories.
On November 10, 2000, Mr. Humphries held a statewide veterans’ salute and brought in entertainers from all over the country to entertain veterans. World War II veterans were given flags and asked to speak about their experiences during the war. She noted a video had been done that showed Governor Guinn accepting the check for the contributions. She reiterated the conditions on the check representing the donations were that the funds be donated as having come from Nevada instead of an appropriation. She noted that had been a stipulation in the collections and it would constitute fraud if he were to make the donation in any other manner.
Ms. Angle stated a person had approached her recently who told Ms. Angle that her husband had fought at Anzio and they had traveled to Italy before his death. The Italian government had presented her husband with a flag from Anzio and he kept it with him until his death. His request had been that the flag be placed on a flagpole at the Fernley Veterans’ Cemetery, however, the current flagpole was not large enough for the flag. It would cost about $3,000 to erect the flag in his honor. Ms. Angle had been a guest on Mr. Humphries’ show, telling that story. By the next day, two contractors had donated their time to erect a flagpole. The flagpole itself had been donated as well.
Ms. Angle noted Mr. Humphries had ensured the project was statewide in nature by contacting various individuals and organizations in the south to request assistance. She added Mr. Humphries’ Saturday evening programs were broadcast throughout the nation.
Vice Chair Giunchigliani thanked Ms. Angle for clarifying earlier testimony. She added it was unfortunate that a bill attempting to honor the men and women who fought in World War II was being debated over who or what should donate funds in the name of Nevada. Ms. Angle replied that was not the question. She added Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Nolan had suggested that the bill be passed in honorarium of the veterans without the funding, the intent had always been for any funding, whether it came from private donations or public appropriation, to be from Nevada.
Ms. Angle stated donations were not necessarily large donations, but rather $5 to $50 donations. She stated the donations were more precious because they came from peoples’ hearts. Vice Chair Giunchigliani concurred with the comment and added, the legislation was not even needed for the check to be sent directly to the World War II Memorial Fund. She suggested perhaps the private donation could be made while the legislation was being debated. Ms. Angle stressed Mr. Humphries was prohibited from sending the private donations because of the promise when fund-raisers had been held.
Mr. Chuck Fulkerson, Executive Director, Office of Veterans’ Services, provided committee members with a letter he had written (Exhibit K). He stressed in his earlier letter of March 12, 2001, the privately donated funds represented a large amount of money that came from military retirees living in Nevada. He added those donations were being done from the hearts of people, for no other reason than to see a memorial erected for World War II veterans.
Referring to Exhibit K, Mr. Fulkerson stressed A.B. 278 was about 21,000 Nevadans who put their personal lives, dreams, and ambitions, on hold to answer their nation’s call to arms. That was a generation in which the extraordinary was common. Mr. Fulkerson listed some of the veterans who had served in World War II:
· Senator Lawrence Jacobsen, Pearl Harbor Day survivor, less than a year later was shot down during the Battle of Guadalcanal, spent over 24 hours in the Pacific Ocean fighting fatigue, thirst, and the sharks before he was rescued;
· Assemblyman John Marvel, drafted from his father’s ranch in 1944, who fought as an infantryman in a tanker in the Pacific;
· Assemblyman Roy Neighbors, served as a gunner’s mate on a troopship convoying troops to North Africa for the 1942 invasion, and who went on to fly Naval attack aircraft in the Pacific;
· Don Dondero, professional photographer, Reno, left the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), flew Naval attack aircraft, was shot down, spent two days in the Pacific Ocean and four days in the jungle;
· Jack Streeter, joined the Army after graduation from UNR, served as a platoon leader and company commander with the 18th Infantry, walked and crawled his way from Omaha Beach on D-day to Czechoslovakia, was wounded five times, decorated for bravery many times, came back to Nevada, and completed his degree in law;
· Link Piazzo, left his business, joined the Army Air Corps flying B-25 bombers all over the Pacific, who returned to his sporting goods store after the war; and
· John “Jack” Lancaster, grew up skiing on Mount Rose, joined the Army and after Officer Candidate School, helped organize the 10th Mountain Division and skied his way up the Italian Boot to Germany, then returned to a food service business in Reno.
Mr. Fulkerson noted those were only some of the stories of Nevadans who disrupted their lives when they stood up and were counted to stop the dictatorships that were consuming the world 60 years earlier. He stressed the right thing for Nevada to do, was to stand up and be counted among the 48 states honoring World War II veterans.
Vice Chair Giunchigliani thanked Mr. Fulkerson for “putting faces” to some of Nevada’s veterans.
Captain Ray Alcorn, United States Navy (retired), and former Executive Director of the Nevada Office of Veterans’ Services, presented his written testimony (Exhibit L) and expressed support for the first provision only of A.B. 278 and to oppose the second provision.
Captain Alcorn stated as Executive Director of the Nevada Office of Veterans’ Services, he had invited the state executives of every state veterans’ organization he could locate to canvass their grass roots membership and join with him to identify the top priorities of veterans’ issues within the state in preparation for the 2001 Legislative Session. He noted 21 veterans’ representatives had met with him in Tonopah, Nevada. He added funding of the World War II Memorial was among the top priorities that came out of that meeting.
Captain Alcorn noted that at no time in the history of the nation, had the democratic form of government, the freedom or the very way of life, been at greater risk than during World War II. He stated A.B. 278 offered an opportunity for each citizen of Nevada to have a voice in saying thank you to those veterans.
Captain Alcorn commended Mr. Humphries for his exceptional effort in raising nearly $60,000 and for his annual salute to veterans’ celebrations. With the restrictions on the private donations, Captain Alcorn stressed it offered an opportunity to show solidarity between the private and public sectors to send as much support as possible from the state in support of the memorial.
Captain Alcorn noted that as a result of the Tonopah meeting, the Office of Veterans’ Services had submitted a Bill Draft Request for support of the memorial. There was no discussion at the meeting of a Nevada Veterans’ Center and Museum, nor had there been any contact by any group to the Office of Veterans’ Services or the Nevada Veterans’ Services Commission for such an entity. Captain Alcorn stressed no request had been made to the Department of Museums, Libraries, and Arts. He added, the meeting had revealed other pressing veterans’ needs requiring state funds and those included:
· Establishment of a veterans’ home in northern Nevada;
· A change in the tax exemption provisions for veterans that had not been addressed since their establishment in 1923;
· The need for a veterans’ services officer in the rural areas of the state; and
· Veterans’ cemeteries had funding needs.
He commented there was never enough funding to cover all the needs in the state and priorities addressed by the veterans’ community must be met before a new project could be considered.
Captain Alcorn stressed, since there was no provision of state oversight of funds for a Nevada Veterans’ Center and Museum that had been established through existing state agencies, nor a new agency established, it was ill-advised to allocate state funding for that project.
Mr. Daryl Mobley, World War II Veteran and Past Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, asked permission to speak even though he had only one vocal chord. He testified he had served in the Philippines and the South Pacific. He explained he was an American veteran, not a Nevada veteran, but was currently a resident of Nevada.
Mr. Mobley testified he had given of his time for freedom and had personally donated to the World War II Memorial Fund. He stressed it was time Nevada was counted, even more so, because they were the last on the list. He added, Nevada was almost on the last of the list in the last Presidential election, showing we could still be counted.
Mr. Ron Kruse, Nevada Veterans’ Services Commission, Korean and Viet Nam veteran, and retired Navy, testified he had been one of the people who tracked Captain Alcorn when he had been in captivity in North Viet Nam.
Mr. Kruse testified he rose in total support for the World War II Veterans’ Memorial, explaining his father was a World War II veteran. He opposed the appropriation in Section 1, subsection 2, of the bill.
Mr. Kruse noted he would be attending a meeting at the Heroes’ Memorial Building later in the evening, and noted that building was not ADA-friendly after 5 p.m. He suggested $50,000 could fund an access ramp for that building.
Vice Chair Giunchigliani closed the hearing on A.B. 278 noting the committee would try to do what was right with the bill. She added her grandfather had served in World War I.
Chairman Arberry opened the hearing on A.B. 280.
Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, Assembly District 39, testified A.B. 280 would fund a High Tech Center at the Minden Campus of Western Nevada Community College.
He read from prepared testimony (Exhibit M) consisting of the report done by the consultant hired by the state of Nevada to determine where to place High Tech Centers in the state. He noted the consultant recommended all three High Tech Centers currently before the committee.
Mr. Hettrick noted A.B. 280 requested $3 million with match funding required. He read from Exhibit M.
Minden has a small airport and its “quality of life” assets provide a strong incentive to attract high tech companies and a skilled higher-salaried work force. Minden’s development objective is to add “value added” industries. Bently Nevada’s workers are already making extensive use of Western Nevada Community College’s newly opened Minden Campus, both for general education courses as well as for science courses, and on-the-job training and these offerings are being expanded to other firms, new and old, in the valley. A sampling of these companies and/or the products of these companies include:
· Bently Nevada – vibration detection and bearings for large rotating machinery;
· D’Argin Pharmaceuticals – skin care products;
· North Sails – sailboat masts;
· Magnetic strips for credit cards;
· Wrappings on baseball bats;
· Bently Agridynamics and Bently Biodynamics – agricultural experimentation and research;
· Metalast – metallic coatings;
· Maxin – ball bearings;
· Alta Diagnostics; and
Mr. Hettrick noted one portion of the study researched how many computers were available in the three high schools proposing new High Tech Centers. The study was done by counting the total computers in a high school, and then had calculated that there were 5.8 students for every computer available in Douglas County High School and that was the lowest of the three high schools. Mr. Hettrick had spoken to high school administrators and they had explained a number of the computers in the calculation were used for administration or in classrooms being used by teachers for instructional aids. The actual number of computers was significantly less and when the math was re-calculated, the actual ratio was 10.3 students for each available computer.
Mr. Hettrick testified that the Legislative Committees on Education had recently identified the Douglas County School District for inclusion in a Bill Draft Request as one of four regional professional development centers for K-12 teachers. One of the primary reasons for the honor had been the effective professional development program existing in the Douglas County School District for more than 16 years. The construction of the Douglas High Tech Center would enhance the training program currently in effect and would provide a location for the regional center’s technology training program.
Mr. Hettrick continued reading from Exhibit M.
During the seven-year period between spring 1993 and spring 2000, enrollment and credit hours have increased 93 percent to the present level of 815 students and 200 full-time equivalent students. These growth rates far exceed the rate of population growth in the region indicating that WNCC is reaching out to a larger percentage of residents and employees.
Much of this growth is attributable to the college’s two new computer labs with a total of 42 computers. Computer courses fill every available evening hour after 5:00 p.m. and short-term computer workshops run every weekend. Additional instruction and open computer labs are needed to meet the present high and increasing demand for information technology instruction.
At the present level of enrollment at WNCC’s new building, there is an average of approximately 47 assignable square feet per full-time equivalent student. This is approximately one-half of the average square footage per full-time equivalent student for community colleges nationwide and enrollments at WNCC Minden are growing.
Recognizing the probable limitations on funding and the likelihood that funding of all three of the centers will not be possible in this biennium, but also recognizing the value these centers can bring to each of the communities studied, consideration should be given to a plan wherein the majority of the funding would come from the legislature, but significant amounts would be added through private contributions within each of the three communities.
Douglas County and the Minden area demonstrated their commitment to higher education and WNCC when an active campaign managed by WNCC’s development staff and Educational Foundation resulted in the donation of a site by Bently Nevada and the funding for their Minden building. Interest in, and commitment to, WNCC and to the education of their students remains high in the Minden area.
Mr. Hettrick reminded the committee that the legislature appropriated $1.5 million when Mr. Donald Bently offered a $1 million land donation. The college created from those funds was currently in need of more space and more computers. Mr. Hettrick stressed, if only one center could be funded, it should be in Douglas County. Mr. Hettrick stated the commitment to WNCC and its students remained high in the Minden area.
Ms. Carol Lucey, President, WNCC, stated when she had testified before the committee previously regarding the role High Tech Centers could have in assisting the state with work force development, she had stressed the encouragement of high school students to pursue academic programs in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology, could be strengthened by the centers. She had also mentioned the importance of a technically skilled work force to attract the types of companies that would produce wealth for the state.
Ms. Lucey introduced Mr. Donald Bently, who was a man of science, a successful inventor and engineer, and the founder and CEO of Bently Nevada and Agridynamics. She noted Mr. Bently’s company was one of the largest manufacturers in the state and was international in scope.
Ms. Lucey stated Bently Nevada hired thousands of engineers and technicians. She added Mr. Bently’s interests spanned the spectrum of potential Nevada technology, from sophisticated sensors for rotating machinery, to pressurized bearings, to sustainable agriculture, and energy conservation. Such diverse groups as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Board of Regents had recognized Mr. Bently for his outstanding accomplishments to his discipline, to his community, and to Nevada.
Mr. Donald Bently noted beyond the accomplishments that had been listed, he was also a veteran of World War II. He expressed appreciation for both the University of Nevada, Reno, who had 32 students currently enrolled from his company, and both of the WNCC campuses in Carson City and Minden.
Mr. Bently stated his company felt training was very important. He noted on that day, two classes had graduated with students from such countries as Indonesia and Africa. The company was hosting a job day in Minden that evening.
Mr. Bently testified that until March 2000, his company had been raided badly by the “e.com” companies who offered giant stock options. He noted it was difficult to find engineers. He stressed engineers were in very high demand in all disciplines throughout the country.
Mr. Bently stressed his support for A.B. 280 because his companies provided a great deal of training themselves, internationally, but they appreciated local support as well.
Mr. Hettrick requested a show of appreciation from the committee for his land donation during the 1999 Legislative Session. A round of applause ensued.
Assemblywoman Cegavske noted she had toured the technology center in Carson City and it was very impressive.
Ms. Mary Walker, representing Douglas County, read a letter into the record from Mr. Daniel Holler, Douglas County Manager (Exhibit N).
I am writing to express Douglas County’s strong support for A.B. 280, which makes a contingent appropriation to the State Public Works Board for construction of a High Tech Learning Center in Douglas County.
Adding this type of learning center to the WNCC campus in Douglas County brings with it an enhanced level of educational opportunities. This will provide an alternative for high school students moving into the community college system, preparing them for intermediate and higher level technical jobs that are growing within Douglas County and the northern Nevada region. It provides a greater level of education for the existing work force, which is continually experiencing pressures for increased technical knowledge in all aspects of work.
We have seen a continuing increase in student growth in the existing Western Nevada Community College campus in Douglas County. We believe that the High Tech Center would enhance the overall use of the community college system, which adds to the quality of life enjoyed by residents of Douglas County and surrounding communities.
In the past, residents and businesses of Douglas County have stepped forward to meet the challenges of matching funds for these types of projects. We believe that they will step up to meet the match requirements expressed in A.B. 280, as the community sees the benefits of having the High Tech facility in Douglas County.
Mr. Roy Casey, Assistant Superintendent, Douglas County School District, testified on behalf of the district to support the bill. He noted the High Tech Center concept had gained in popularity. The notion of two public institutions working together to achieve a goal of better education for Douglas County students was admirable and worthy of support.
Mr. Casey added, although the efforts to build a facility in Douglas County were similar to other school districts, there was a uniqueness for Douglas County and WNCC. Mr. Casey explained the Douglas County High School was a crowded facility only housing grades 10 through 12 and would benefit from the center. The district proposed the center become a “magnet” high school for the district during the morning and early afternoon hours. The center would be used for calculus-based mathematics and advanced computer science courses usually associated with pre-engineering programs. He echoed Mr. Bently’s comments, that there was great need to train students in those areas. Mr. Casey stressed the pre-engineering courses would offer dual credit and would be primarily filled with junior- and senior-level high school students.
Mr. Casey added George Whittell High School students would be invited to the center also and be connected with that school through a T-1 link. He noted the Douglas County School District was the “home” agency for the Western Nevada Regional Professional Development programs funded in 1999. He noted school districts involved in the project would be Douglas, Carson City, Churchill, Mineral, and Lyon.
Mr. Casey stated the center was planned to have a satellite downlink to the University System for professional development.
Mr. Casey concluded that while the program would involve high school students from Douglas County High School and George Whittell High School, Lake Tahoe, it was important to recognize students would be pursuing higher level math, science, and technology classes in preparation for a four-year degree. He added many of those students would need that type of training to enter into the job market or provide them with skills to assist in working their way through college.
Mr. Casey stated approximately 200 to 400 students would be selected for admission to the “magnet” high school program. The majority of students would attend school full time and take their required English and Social Studies courses in addition. Douglas County School District would provide certified teachers for the program. He added most students would drive to the campus, however, the school district was offering transportation to those students that required it to attend. He noted administrative and counseling support would be available on campus for the students. A collegiate atmosphere would be promoted. Internships and community training experiences would also be promoted.
Mr. Casey noted he had worked with the regional program at the Carson City High Tech Center and although that was a great facility, more space was needed.
Vice Chair Giunchigliani noted all the presentations had been excellent.
Ms. Michele Lewis, member of the Douglas County School Board of Trustees, testified as a school board member, parent, a former vocational educator, and a former tech-prep coordinator for WNCC, that she was proud to support the Douglas County High Tech Center.
Ms. Lewis noted, in Nevada, less than 38 percent of high school graduates pursued a post-secondary education. A recent report conducted by an independent policy research institute ranked Nevada last in the category of 18-to 21-year olds who pursued post-secondary education immediately after high school. At the same time, U.S. Department of Labor statistics revealed that over 70 percent of future jobs would require some type of post-secondary education or training beyond high school.
Ms. Lewis stated the proposed center would provide that type of learning and those types of employees for the high-tech, high-wage careers that were developing.
Another factor was the accountability movement. Throughout the nation, graduation requirements were being increased and standards were being raised. Intervention and remediation programs were being implemented. As the movement gradually decreased in the future, occupational and technical opportunities for high school students must be provided through collaborative efforts.
Chairman Arberry closed the hearing on A.B. 280 and opened the hearing on A.B. 283.
Assemblywoman Marcia de Braga, Assembly District 35, testified A.B. 283 sought funding in two areas. She noted A.B. 380 of the Seventieth Session established a water rights acquisition program to end many years of litigation regarding water rights in the Newlands Project. She added at that time, the state committed $3.3 million and the funds were to earn interest up to $4 million. However, the current market activities had kept that from occurring.
Mrs. de Braga introduced Mr. Ed James, General Manager, Carson Water Subconservancy District, who provided committee members with Exhibit O, which detailed the management of the funds appropriated to the project.
Mr. James provided a history of the bill. June 7, 1999, the Governor signed A.B. 380 of the Seventieth Session into law. On June 8, 1999, the first meeting of all the users of water from the Newlands Project was held. Over 25 different interest groups were involved in the meetings to establish policies and procedures. Some funding requests were already being made. In June 1999, an appraiser was hired to determine what water rights rates should be. In October 1999, the report was received in which the appraiser had determined the Truckee Division waters were worth between $3,100 and $3,400 per acre and the Carson Division waters were worth between $1,500 and $1,800 per acre.
The Carson Water Subconservancy Board set a value for the Truckee Division of $3,200 and the Carson Division at $1,600 per acre. A decision was made to set the value at that time. Litigation had been ongoing for over 15 years and some people who wanted to farm had not been able to do so because of the lack of water. A great deal of money had been spent on legal fees. The project was ready to go, the board had approved tentative procedures in October 1999, however, in that month the board had learned from the Bureau of Reclamation that an environmental impact statement was needed before federal funds would become available. The board had been concerned about beginning the use of state funds if no guarantee was present that federal funds would be forthcoming. The board had directed Mr. James to spend no state funds until they were certain federal funds were available. Mr. James explained the test program was done with very little use of federal or state funds.
Mr. James testified the environmental assessment was approved in August 2000 and in December 2000 the federal funds had been received. He noted the delay had actually worked in favor of the state because the state funds could be held and earn more interest. Considerable staff work was done on the employee’s own time in efforts to save money.
Mr. James referred to Exhibit O and noted the proposed budget had been built after the water value appraisals had been done. He explained $12 million to $12.8 million would be spent for water rights purchase. The total cost of the project would be between $15.8 million and $16.7 million.
Mr. James explained income would be from the following sources:
· $9 million – federal funds;
· $3.8 million – state funds;
· $2.5 million – Sierra Pacific Power Company;
· $100,000 – Carson Tahoe Water Conservancy District; and
· $120,000 – Interest earned on other than state funds.
He explained the total estimated revenue was approximately $15.5 million, thus the project was already short of funding. He noted the original federal allocation had been agreed upon at $7 million, but they had increased that allocation to $9 million due to shortfalls in the project budget.
Mr. James commented the board was trying to be fiscally conservative with its funds and avoid risky investments. He added when A.B. 380 of the Seventieth Session was passed, the state obligated $4 million and then changed the allocation to $3.3 million and assumed an earning of 6.50 percent interest on the funds to make the final allocation of $4 million. He commented under state restrictions the board had not been able to reach that $4 million goal.
Mr. James noted Exhibit O included a cash flow analysis and a table of estimated interest rates.
Mrs. de Braga stated A.B. 283 needed amendments prior to passage. She noted all references were to the project ending in 2003 and should be changed to 2004.
Mrs. de Braga added part of the purchase program was an agreement that the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District would be reimbursed for lost operating and maintenance charges that would have been received by the district, had the water continued to be used for irrigation. That had been negotiated between Senator Reid’s office and the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District. The district accepted the final offer from the federal government although it was $680,000 short. To compensate, the district had shorted people who had sold their water rights by $100 per acre in the guise of a lien release fee and it had created a severe impact on people who sold their water rights. The federal government would not move from their position on the amount allotted. If Section 2, subsection 1, was approved, the funds would not go to the Truckee-Carson Water District, they would go to the Carson Subconservancy District to be paid to sellers of water rights. She concluded $2 million more had been allocated from the federal government than originally agreed to, but not for the purpose of Section 2 of the bill.
Chairman Arberry closed the hearing on A.B. 283 and adjourned the meeting at 5:55 p.m.
Assemblyman Morse Arberry Jr., Chairman