The Education Initiative will bring jobs

Ever check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics current local area unemployment statistics? We're No.2!

It always comes down to the money, doesn’t it?

Big business vehemently protests any corporate tax in Nevada despite the fact they pay one in 47 other states.

Legislators won’t support a broad-based business tax for fear of offending their “no new taxes ever” constituency, or worse, the corporations that fund their campaigns.

Building and trades unions are afraid the subcontractors who employ their members really mean it when they say, “It’s the tax or your jobs,” so they now oppose it, despite years of advocating just such a tax.

The past few weeks of hysteria and political machinations over The Education Initiative (TEI) would be quite entertaining if our children’s collective future were not at stake.

With yet another report ranking Nevada at the bottom in education, the aggressive assault on the initiative petition continues to escalate. But Nevada’s reporters and columnists have been quick to find the fallacies and hypocrisy swirling like dust devils whenever the subject comes up.

The Coalition to Defeat the Margin Tax Initiative sends forth its doomsday spokesperson with breathless “news” at every opportunity. It’s airing scary TV commercials promising seniors and struggling families their cost-of-living is going to skyrocket if TEI passes in November. Of course the ad doesn’t mention that the Legislature’s favorite alternative when the state is short of money is the sales tax, a tax that actually does raise the cost of living for everyone.

The Coalition recently asked its hired economist, Jeremy Aguero, to underscore the “job-killing” claim it’s using to frighten Nevadans about adding to the unemployment rate should the initiative be approved. News 3’s Hugh Jackson in Las Vegas reviewed the new analysis of potential job loss and found something surprising. Aguero’s statement actually points out that if the money generated by the margin tax is “dedicated to hiring new teachers … the initiative would likely have a net positive employment impact.”

Another political pundit, Jon Ralston, often explores the various layers of TEI opposition and support on his television show, Ralston Reports. In a recent debate featuring Democratic candidates for Assembly District 10 in Las Vegas, Ralston skillfully ascertained the TEI position of the three candidates, all of whom insisted millions more are needed to adequately fund education in Nevada.

One candidate refused to take a position, spouting caucus talking points designed to avoid taking a public stand on TEI. Another declined support, repeating shallow “facts” from the Coalition’s propaganda. But the third candidate proudly proclaimed his support, aligning himself with the Democratic base as he heads into a primary that will essentially decide the race.

When the AFL-CIO passed a resolution against the initiative at its state convention, it was columnist Steve Sebelius of the Las Vegas Review-Journal who provided an illuminating analysis of labor’s evolution on the issue. He compared today’s TEI opposition to the words of AFL-CIO chief, Danny Thompson, during the 2011 legislative session when Thompson explained why an initiative petition is needed: Because the “legislative process is an impossible one. … With the two-thirds requirement in the constitution, what in effect that does [is], it has the minority control the majority wishes. You cannot solve the problem at the Legislature alone without some help from the people.”

Many education supporters were appalled that TEI wasn’t front and center at recent Democratic county conventions, despite the endorsement of the state party. Elected officials ignored the issue altogether, concentrating instead on building grassroots support for their own campaigns. Only one candidate, Erik Holland, running for mayor of Reno, declared his support.

Don’t rely on a TV ad for “information” on TEI. Educate yourself, check out this column online and click on the links. Then decide if you want a better-funded educational system or if you’d rather give the corporations a free ride.