Always try to come in 49th
Nevada celebrated moving up to 49th place in public school education last week. We were 50th last year. That qualifies as good news in Nevada, a state more accustomed to a race to the bottom, usually with Mississippi or, in this case, New Mexico.
The ranking comes from the newest edition of the annual Kids Count study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nevada consistently ranks low in the report’s categories. In 2015’s rankings, we were 47th in children’s overall well-being (which is separate from the public school education category mentioned in the first paragraph), 44th for family/community environment, and 40th in the country for economic well-being and children’s health within the public school system. It takes a lot of progress to move even a little bit up the ladder of success when there is such a gap between Nevada’s performance and the next worst state. The new educational programs funded last year through the small Corporate Tax should help, but there’s such a huge amount of ground to make up, it may be years before we see demonstrably higher rankings. Still, not being last is certainly a plus.
The same day the news broke about our movement forward in education metrics, another trend was confirmed that doesn’t bode well for the working class in the years ahead. Last week, Nevada’s median housing cost reached an all-time high of $326,000, a whopping seven percent increase over last month and an 11 percent increase over this time last year. As any working class Nevadan knows, incomes have not risen accordingly. In fact, one third of households in Reno make less than $35,000 a year.
But these trends don’t trouble Mike Kazmierski, the CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. Writing in the Reno Gazette-Journal, Kazmierski once again expressed his dismay at the skeptics of unbridled growth and their fears that Reno is facing more troubles than Kazmierski’s imagined “blessings.”
Kazmierski wrote that growth will bring us opportunity fueled by “increased tax revenue to address the challenges we face.” If only that were true. Has he forgotten the billion dollar tax subsidy the governor and state legislators gave to Tesla to relocate its plant and workers to Northern Nevada or all the other millions of dollars in taxes we gave away to film companies, phone companies and Apple? That is precisely the problem—we don’t have the increased tax revenue to pay for our growing pains of schools and roads. Instead, Kazmierski and other corporate lobbyists are leading the charge to raise the sales tax on everyone else to pay for school repairs, even the poor and those living on fixed incomes.
Kazmierski goes on to say growth will bring us action and a special “deadline” motivation to address affordable housing, school infrastructure and downtown revitalization. But where he sees action, others see a lack of planning or a lot of talk, but not much concrete change. In other words, leadership that is “all hat, no cattle.”
Kazmierski thinks we will all share a much better quality of life because of his work attracting out-of-town corporations with a thirst for our tax subsidies if we can just stop with the “petty complaints” about traffic and restaurant lines and refocus our thinking on the vitality growth brings with more events and entertainment, more shopping and more talented people. He ends his column with the tired cliche of a glass that is 80 percent full and a wish that local residents would “embrace the many blessings associated with growth” instead of all that whining. He says “The only thing we should really fear is that without continued economic development efforts, community support and business friendly government, the growth—with all its blessings—will end.”
Kazmierski is drunk on his own propaganda. Who will tell him not only does the emperor have no clothes, he has no home?