Live blogging the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group (bumped)

As promised, I'm here at the first meeting of the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group (NVSG). Scroll for updates...

9:16 They just finished the introductions of the 26 members and alternates. I thought I had grabbed a list of members for easy reference, but I don't have one, so I apologize if my names are sketchy.

9:16 Point of the NVSG, and this is a direct quote from one of the handouts. NVSG "will build consensus, develop strategies to move Nevada forward, create a vision to inform the revenue discussion, and help create a plan to keep track of progress."

We aren't just blowing smoke when we write that the Stakeholder group is meant to give cover for raising taxes.

9:23 Chair Robert Lang: This is a strategic planning group. Big impact on how revenue is distributed.

9 meetings scheduled. 2 a month through April and then a wrap up meeting in May.

9:30 Moody's analyst, Michael Helmar, is trying to define quality of life. Quotes the United Nations, and BNET Business Dictionary. "There is no real set quality of life indicator."

All these definitions (and their differences) show the foolish of government trying to define quality of life. All that's going to happen is that these Stakeholders are going to pick the winners and losers in Nevada's future economy.

Better idea: Let individuals define their own quality of life. Government should stick to providing its core functions - roads, police, fire, education - and let its citizens enjoy the freedom the government is suppose to be protecting.

9:37 Helmar: Stakeholders get to define quality of life. Quality of life must be measurable. Quality of life factors must be actionable.

This is the problem with any group trying to define quality of life. Every individual is unique and everyone has their own ideas about what makes their life better. Forcing someone to confirm to your idea of quality of life is the opposite of liberty.

9:40 And it begins. Different special interest groups staking their claims to what makes "quality of life."

9:42 Soon-to-be-forgotten goal from Helmar: Create a situation where no one is worse off.

Sounds good, let's hold them to this standard when the tax increase proposals start coming.

10:00 Moody's is reviewing how Nevada fairs in the quality of life indicators its identified. Some of the factors include: Demographics, labor, economic structure, income, education, housing, health care and household credit.

Basically it's going to be a lot of background for the next little bit.

10:19 Interesting notes on industrial diversity. Reno has increased its economic diversify by 150 in the last 20 years. LV has increased its economic diversity by 75 percentish. And most small states aren't economically diverse.

10:25 Percentage of NVSG members showing bored body language. Over 75 percent. Don't worry they're only determining your future. Not that I blame them for being bored.

10:27Moody's talks about the benefits of targeted tax breaks. Also a bad idea -- government shouldn't be picking the winners and losers even if it's done with tax cuts.

10:35 Don Snyder: State hasn't done a good job saving in the good times to prepare for the inevitable down times.


10:39 Moody's: Tax differences between CA and NV have allowed trucking and shipping industry to grow in Reno.

10:44Good news. Aside from Pahrump, most areas of the state have a much lower poverty rate than the national average. And as the next slide shows this is despite (or because) Nevada residents are less reliant on government handouts that the national average. But as with all these rankings and comparisons, I'm really not a fan.

10:50 10 minute break. Will return shortly.

11:05 Meeting resumes and education's up next.

11:12 Slide headline: "NV's education gap smaller than it appears" (when adjusted for US rate of occupations, age, race & ethnicity).

Do some of the stakeholders look upset at that?

Moody's point though: Our education level is suited to our economy. If we want to change (Chair Lang: We want to change) then we need to increase education acheivement.

11:24 Uh-huh. Great point by Janelle Kraft Pierce. Many slides are out of date (from 2006, 2008, etc...)

That's one of the reasons why government shouldn't be trying to set goals like this, they don't (and can't have) the necessary information. Moody's defends info because it doesn't change that quickly.

11:30 Nevada education spending is below the national average. Too bad they failed to mention that Nevada has increased inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending by 169% over the last 50 years.

11:33 For education reforms that have actually worked, check out Florida. Note: Florida is similar to Nevada demographically.

11:34 Alan Feldman: Isn't Nevada's problem that we don't spend enough?


Moody's hedges. I won't -- check out this chart. More money doesn't equal better educational results.

11:37 Doug Busselman challenges the idea that more spending equals better results.

11:38 Someone whose name I can't see, asks if our kids our prepared to learn - aka don't we need full day kindergarten.

11:41 Boyd Martin challenges the idea that more money equals better results, because of Utah. Canto Jr. says not a fair comparison, because Nevada's more diverse.

But Mr. Canto Florida is similar demographically and check out Florida's improvement (especially among minorities) in the last 10 years after instituting a series of education reforms.

11:47 Most enjoyable part of this exchange - watching Helmar from Moody's trying to agree with the Stakeholders on both sides of that discussion

11:51 Moving onto home ownership. General agreement that home ownership is good.

Just a reminder that creating a housing bubble contributed to this recession in the first place.

12:01 People are still looking bored. Chairman Lang is leaning back so far in his chair that I'm half worried he's going to fall over (or asleep).

Again I really can't blame them for zoning out and I wouldn't care except that these 19 people are going to tell us that they are uniquely qualified to spend our tax dollars.

12:08 Moody's Helmar: What will you (NVSG) do about health care?

My suggestion: stay alert or stop pretending you know how to run individuals' lives better than they do. I'd prefer the latter...

12:11 Moody's Helmar: Nevada needs to give more health care to poor kids.

Poor, by the way, equals household income under 200% of federal poverty line. Uninsured rate for those kids is just under 30 percent in Nevada.

12:18 Moody's presentation ends. Opening the floor up to other quality of life factors.

12:21 Janelle Kraft Pierce: Don't forget public safety! Thomas Perrigo: Don't forget energy or transportation either!

Perrigo: Quality of life factors should include - greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy usage among Nevadans, vehicle miles traveled.

Wow. Some on the NVSG want to do more than just take your money, they'd like to control your life. How many stakeholders believe in freedom?

12:29 Chairman Lang sounds exactly like a college professor I once had. Great deep voice. Too bad a generally disagree with what he's advocating.

Lang wants a peer group defined, must include Orlando -- similar because of Disney.

12:33 Perrigo's back and now he wants more transit in the city. Here comes the liberals' wish list of projects.

12:35 Denise Tanata Ashby wants early childhood education, juvenile justice indicators, child welfare, mental health and physical fitness included as quality of life factors.

12:37 Pierce wants to emphasize public safety. Alan Feldman wants factors viewed in light of Nevada's racial make-up.

This meeting is going exactly as NPRI (Geoff Lawrence specificly predicted).

Yet the IFC's tax study is about much more than merely a new corporate income or gross-receipts tax. It's also intended to give cover for unprecedented expansion in the size and power of government. The IFC instructed Moody's not simply to consider how to reduce revenue volatility so that state government can continue its current operations. Moody's must consider how to fund a bevy of new spending programs to be proposed by a "stakeholder" group convened by the IFC.

The Nevada Vision Stakeholders Group, as it is called, is nothing more than a collection of special-interest groups - primarily, public employees and union representatives. The NVSG's ostensible purpose is to develop "quality of life" targets for residents of Nevada over the next five, 10 and 20 years, plus ways to achieve those targets.

12:41 Katy Simon: Let's include civic engagement - rates of voter turnout and philanthropy.

12:43 What about freedom? Shouldn't that be an indicator?

12:45 Meeting is wrapping up with public comments.

12:59 Jan Gilbertson of PLAN makes a comment I agree with -- stream these meetings online!

1:01 Keith Smith makes the case that casinos already do more than anyone else for Nevada. And with that the meeeting ends.

The next meeting is January 29. I won't be able to be here, but I'm 90 percent sure Geoff will be at the meeting, probably testify and maybe do a live blog.

Regardless keep reading WriteonNevada and

As this is a live blog, please forgive any spelling errors. If I have time I will be back and proof my work, so if things change, that's why.

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