It’s that time of year again — end-of-school-year plays, concerts, awards and graduation ceremonies. And also, ESA and tax scholarship application time!
I know parents and schools are running dizzy with all the festivities. And, then, in a blink, it will be summer and families will be embracing vacations, slower days and relaxing family evenings. That’s why our team has been working hard to get parents informed, prepared, and updated on Nevada’s educational choice opportunities.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been to Pahrump, a few homes, a fundraiser and several Vegas-area schools providing information and helping parents complete applications and scan documents. We’ve also been working really hard with some spectacular partners to organize three community information events — two in the Las Vegas area and one in Reno.
Tuesday, May 24th — Historical West Last Vegas
Reconciliation Apostolic Ministries
911 G Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89106
Wednesday, May 25th — Henderson
Henderson International School
1165 Sandy Ridge Ave.
Henderson, Nevada 89052
Tuesday, May 31st — Reno
Bishop Manogue Catholic High School — Small Gym
110 Bishop Manogue Dr.
Reno, NV 89521
Representatives from the Treasurer's and Attorney General's office, plus Donna Wix from the Department of Education and I, will all be present to provide updates, information and answer your questions on the programs and ESA lawsuits. Application assistance and document scanning help will also be available.
These events may be the last opportunity to get large numbers of families informed in time to apply for the Education Savings Accounts and the Tax Scholarships for the start of the upcoming 2016-17 school year. An order is expected as soon as today, possibly, in the Duncan case (the one brought in southern Nevada by the ACLU), and these public events also offer unparalleled opportunities for schools, families and whole communities to receive, firsthand, the latest information from knowledgeable experts.
I'm reaching out to everyone on this email list to help me distribute information about these events to the community. Whatever you can do, your help is needed. Maybe you can distribute fliers in your surrounding community, take fliers to football practice and other parent gatherings, or just forward this email to everyone you know.
Let’s work together to empower Nevada families so all can secure the best educational opportunities for their children — whether they choose a traditional public school, charter school, private school or home-based learning. And, to all you social media gurus, I am indebted to you always for all your posts on #LetOurChildrenSucceed. Any way you can help, I am deeply grateful.
And, be sure to keep yourself up-to-date. Attend one or all of the information events — and bring some friends. Make sure to come by and introduce yourself!
Also, let your neighbors know the state Treasurer is accepting ESA applications through June 30th. Applications must be stamped and received in the office by 5:00 pm by June 30th. While those application can’t be processed while the injunction in Lopez is still in effect, they can, as soon as that injunction is lifted. Until then, parents won’t receive notice of receipt from the Treasurer’s office. I recommend sending applications certified, return-receipt-requested. That way you’ll have proof of delivery, should that be needed later. Please, please, hold on to your receipt.
For families seeking the tax scholarship, the Education Fund of Northern Nevada is accepting applications until June 1st. Dinosaurs and Roses are accepting applications from current scholarship families and will open applications to new families on May 20th.
Fiscal and taxes:
Any voter knows that if a tax is repealed, the funds from that tax will not be available for government to spend in future years. This isn’t a concept that generally requires explanation, however, the Nevada Supreme Court disagrees. The court ruled that the petition to repeal the Commerce Tax will have to start all over from scratch, because it allegedly failed to explain the impact repeal would have on the state budget. (Read more)
ESAs are an education reform that doesn’t focus on politics, special interests or entrenched bureaucracies. Instead, ESAs focus on directly giving families better educational opportunities. If Nevada is serious about helping repair the state’s educational reputation by increasing student performance, shouldn’t students — rather than political special interests — be where we start? (Read more)
Obamacare is bankrupting insurance companies. Or, at least it would be, if the Department of Health and Human Services wasn’t illegally providing bailouts. Through a provision in Obamacare known as Cost-Sharing Reduction, the HHS has been unlawfully paying off some of the losses incurred by insurers — despite the fact that Congress specifically denied a $5 billion bailout proposal. (Read more)
Facebook workers put in charge of promoting “trending” news stories on Facebook actively suppressed and downplayed conservative and libertarian themes. According to a whistleblower, workers prevented stories about CPAC, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul and similar topics from appearing in the “trending news” section. This revelation is just the most recent example of institutionalized political bias at the social media giant. (Read more)
Millennials seem to be overly impressed by Bernie Sander’s brand of socialism — but do any of them really know what it is? There’s a simple reason millennials are attracted to the idea of “democratic socialism,” and it’s not the economics. Simply put, it’s because it “sounds nice.” (Read more)
Almost every school in Detroit was closed earlier this week when the local teacher union organized a “sick out” after the district warned it might not be able to meet its financial obligations this summer. Teacher strikes are illegal under Michigan law, so the union urged teachers in 94 of the 97 schools to call in “sick,” forcing almost all of Detroit’s students to stay home — despite the fact that Detroit is ranked among the worst performing districts in the nation. (Read more)
Free market solutions:
Vietnam has been ruled by communists for more than 40 years — but free market reforms have been steadily creeping into the system. According to recent data from Pew Research, the people of Vietnam have the world’s most favorable opinion of capitalism with roughly 95 percent of citizens “agreeing” that “people are better off in a free market economy.” By comparison, only 70 percent of Americans have a similarly favorable view of free market economics. (Read more)
In an effort to boost the wind industry, the Obama administration has proposed a new rule that would exempt windfarms from regulations designed to protect bald eagles. Windfarms are notorious for causing bird deaths, and in recent years more attention has been brought to the problem as large-scale installations encroach on bald eagle habitats. According to the proposed rule, windfarm operators would be permitted to kill or injure just over 4,000 bald eagles per year without penalty — nearly four times the current limit for similar industries. There are an estimated 143,000 bald eagles in the United States. (Read more)
The Drake University’s student senate has rejected a free-market group’s application for recognition as an official student group. Turning Point USA was denied its application as a student group on campus due to what the student senate said was a “hateful record.” Students who had advocated for the free-market organization argue the decision was politically motivated, and runs contrary to Drake’s mission of encouraging “diverse perspectives and the free flow of ideas and discussion” among the student body. (Read more)
The FDA has issued final guidance for an Obamacare regulation that mandates calorie labeling on all restaurant menus. In the rule, the definition for a “menu” is more than 170 words long — and it even applies to many types of advertisements, coupons and marketing materials. Additionally, restaurants are not allowed to use plus or minus signs to indicate estimated calorie values, because the FDA believes such labels would be “too confusing” for average Americans. (Read more)
Declining standards in education are having a real impact on students’ ability to succeed after high school. Far less than half of high school students — only 37 percent according to the latest study — are adequately prepared for college by the time they graduate. This shows a distinct downward trend in recent years. Clearly, the status quo of throwing more money at public education, and praying for better results, just isn’t cutting it. (Read more)
Taxes and fiscal:
Supporters of Nevada’s new gross receipts tax say that repealing the Commerce Tax would create a hole in the state’s budget. In reality, it will do no such thing. Because of when the taxes are collected, 2016’s revenues will remain untouched — giving the 2017 legislature plenty of time to adjust for the change during their normal legislative session. (Read more)
Labor and business:
Many employees prize flexible hours over many other benefits offered by employers. Employers also find such flexibility to be a benefit, as it often increases the company’s ability to attract and retain quality talent. But with President Obama’s latest regulations nearing final approval, these private agreements between bosses and their employees might soon be a thing of the past. The new overtime rules sought by the administration would give government the ability to micromanage how, when and even if certain salaried employees are allowed to readjust their schedule. (Read more)
Since its creation, The Department of Homeland Security has seen its share of waste, abuse and even fraud — all while the department has ballooned in size. Even more surprising, however, is the agency’s obsessive focus on “climate change.” Since 2010 the agency has produced over 10 separate documents on climate change, and has even listed it as a “major security risk” in the key strategic document for the department. (Read more)
For far too long federal bureaucrats in Washington have controlled over 80 percent of Nevada’s lands. Allegedly, its vast resources make Washington a more suitable manager then locals. However, that has not proven to be true and has left locals suffering from mismanagement. Federal agencies have failed to curb the wild horse issue throughout northeastern Nevada — decimating land that would otherwise be available to ranchers for grazing permits. (Read more)
Sharon J. Rossie,
The next enrollment period for ESAs is just about here!
The treasurer does not yet have the new applications available, but we’ll have them on NevadaESA.com as soon as they are made public — no later than Monday.
Parents who still need to sign up for an ESA will have from May 2nd until June 30th to fill out their application and send it to the Treasurer’s Office.
And I’ll be around to help the whole time.
In fact, we have several informational events coming up in the next few weeks aimed at helping parents complete the process. Friday, April 29th, I’ll be headed out to Pahrump to help parents get ready at the Community Christian Academy — and Monday I’ll be back at it in Las Vegas, at Montessori Visions Academy.
The following two weeks will be a blur of activity, so we have posted a full list of events on NevadaESA.com. Keep checking the list, as we’ll be adding to it when we schedule more informational activities.
And any businesses, parents or schools that would like to host an ESA event should send me an email. I’d be happy to try to set something up. It’s important that we keep parents, schools and the community engaged in the fight for educational choice!
On that note, I was recently made aware of a parent who has organized a rally for May 3rd, in support of ESAs. Even though NevadaESA is not involved in the rally, I wanted to make sure everyone here knew about it, in case you would like to be a part of it! The Facebook invite can be found by clicking here.
Here are the details for my informational event in Pahrump on Friday:
ESA and Tax Scholarship information and assistance night
Friday, April 29, 6:00 p.m.
Community Christian Academy
1061 E. Wilson Ave, Pahrump, Nevada
The next few weeks are going to be busy, but I’m looking forward to helping parents fill out their applications and get involved in the fight for ESAs!
Whether or not the PUC decided on an “appropriate” net-metering rebate shouldn’t be the focus of the debate in Nevada. The more important point is that government intervention created this problem in the first place. Given the vested interest NV Energy and solar companies have in big government, it’s not surprising that this point is being ignored. (Read more)
The state healthcare exchanges are a key component of Obamacare — and it looks like they are about to enter freefall. UnitedHealth has announced that they are pulling out of all but “a handful” of state exchanges, after suffering massive losses by participating in the program. Since joining state exchanges in 2015, the company says it has lost roughly $1 billion. (Read more)
Labor and business:
An “avalanche” of new regulations from the White House are about to make life far more difficult for business owners, employees and entrepreneurs. Many of the regulations are little more than government attempts to micromanage the workplace. For example, one requirement mandates that salaried employees making less than $50,000 per year receive overtime pay — and the government even regulates how overtime should be calculated. It’s becoming painfully obvious that Washington DC has no idea how to “stimulate” economic growth — they only know how to hamper it. (Read more)
When Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised 100 million dollars in a matching grant for New Jersey's public schools, everyone had big plans for the money. Unsurprisingly, it has resulted in few (if any) improvements, and massive new costs for the district. A new labor agreement accounted for half of philanthropic package. Predictably, it turned out that most of the money didn't actually make it to the classroom, ending up instead in the pockets of labor union bosses and special interests. (Read more)
Today is Earth Day. So, what has been the most important force in the preservation of the environment? It hasn’t been government. In fact, just the opposite. Free markets, liberty and capitalism are far better stewards of the environment than any big government bureaucracy has ever been. (Read more)
Sharon J. Rossie
Legislators are weighing the possibility of decentralizing the Clark County School District, by adopting a so-called “empowerment” model for 357 public schools. The empowerment model gives individual schools more autonomy over their budgets and curriculum, encouraging more parental involvement and restricting centralized planning from CCSD headquarters. (Read more)
Fiscal and taxes:
We hear plenty about the $19 trillion national debt — but there’s another number that should be on everyone’s mind: $3.4 trillion. That’s how much America’s public sector pension plans are estimated to have in unfunded liabilities. According to a study from the Hoover Institution, without substantive reform to the system this massive funding hole threatens to pull countless municipalities and states into Detroit-style bankruptcy. (Read more)
Electric car company Faraday Futures finally broke ground on their new manufacturing plant in the Apex industrial park this week. Despite the fanfare and glowing press coverage, it is worth pointing out that the company’s projected release date for a commercially available electric car has been moved from 2017, to sometime “in the next couple of years.” (Read more)
Small business and job creation:
When it takes eight times as long to become a make-up artist than an EMT in Nevada, something is wrong. Licensing requirements are a barrier to entering the workforce — especially for low-income workers. Hairdressers, make-up artists and even interior decorators are just a few of the careers that require government licensure. Even more outrageous than the over-regulation of relatively harmless industries, is the absurd and often arbitrary amount of time and money required to obtain government approval. (Read more)
Health insurance providers are warning that losses related to Obamacare reforms are becoming unsustainable. “Either insurers will drop out [of Obamacare exchanges] or insurers will raise premiums,” said Larry Levitt with the Kaiser Family Foundation. Massive spikes in premium costs are expected next year, giving regulators for the “Affordable Care Act” significant reason to worry about the system’s overall sustainability. (Read more)
Sharon J. Rossie
Have you ever gotten a song or lyrics stuck in your head? Well, that's been me since Sunday. For whatever reason, I just can't get the lyrics, "Oh, happy day!" out of my head — or my disposition. Okay, to be honest, I haven't really tried to get them out because despite the recent delays in ESA, I have been completely upbeat and positively charged about the program. Rather than having to look for the silver lining, it is just there.
Let me share with you why.
First and foremost, Nevada families couldn't have better advocates for this program than Treasurer Dan Schwartz and Attorney General Adam Laxalt. I'm not just saying that. They truly have been working effortlessly to protect and advance the Education Savings Account (ESA) program. I have been lucky enough to meet and get to know their team members. Every single person has a personal desire for the success of this program. Each team member takes to heart the more than 5,000 children and families waiting on this program. I can honestly say, staff at the Treasurer's office wants nothing more than to answer calls and emails. It truly pains them to not be available to you. Nevadans could not have more dedicated, committed and passionate advocates. They just couldn't.
But, it's not just Schwartz and Laxalt who support this program. Nevada's other Constitutional officers, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, for instance, and Controller Ron Knecht and his assistant controller, Geoff Lawrence, are all doing their part to support ESA. I’m proud to say, I know personally how committed to ESA Geoff is. He used to be NPRI’s fiscal analyst and introduced ESAs to Nevada and analyzed them in the organization’s Solutions 2013 and Solutions 2015 publications. We also have numerous state senators and members of the Assembly advocating ESA. And, while we don't hear much about it, I'm told Governor Sandoval also supports the program.
Now, if I could just get a picture of all these distinguished folks, with all you parents together in front of our NevadaESA.com sign, wearing a #LetOurChildrenSucceed t-shirt, while tweeting, Facebooking and Instagraming your support… Oh, happy day!
Okay, for sure, another delay in the lawsuits had me grit my teeth a bit. But, to be honest, I’m also of the mind that at least now, everyone has had an opportunity to add their 2 cents. Granted, some groups took many dollars from nearly 5,000 Nevada children in putting in their 2 cents, but everyone’s now in and we can move on without any whining.
Adding the biggest skip in my step this week is all the parents I have talked to lately. Saturday, International Christian Academy invited me to share their booth at Spirit Fest. We passed out nearly 500 brochures. I, myself, spoke with probably 60 families one-on-one. I had a great time playing in the rain — yes, I did! — and informing parents about their new educational choice options, both ESA and the tax scholarship, and hearing their stories. To the sweet little girl in the orange jumpsuit with blue stars, “keep playing in the rain!” You are inspirational.
This past week, I talked to parents wanting to learn more. I’ve talked to parents who have already signed up for an ESA. I’ve talked to parents receiving the tax scholarship. I’ve talked to parents who don’t want the ESA, but offered to help support my effort because they believe in families having options. I’ve even helped parents on the ESA fence determine that their public school is the best fit for their child. And, that my friends, is the brightest silver lining of all. To know that Nevadan’s get it — ESAs are about educational choice and empowering parents to be strong, effective advocates for their child’s education and future — wherever that education comes from.
“Oh, happy day!”
Stay strong! And, #LetOurChildrenSucceed
Sometimes, the case for cutting government spending makes itself pretty obvious. A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department lieutenant cashed in more than $268,000 of unused leave — boosting his total pay to $500,835 when he retired in 2015. As Robert Fellner, NPRI’s director of transparency research, pointed out, if so much leave is going unused, why was it given in the first place? (Read more)
Nothing about Obamacare is working. Healthcare is not more affordable, comprehensive or accessible than it was before passage of the “Affordable Care Act.” In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the implementation of Obamacare has led to roughly 9 million fewer people on private insurance plans than would otherwise be the case. (Read more)
Climate and environmental:
The attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands is targeting a free-market think tank for questioning the theory of global warming. AG General Claude Walker served the Competitive Enterprise Institute with a subpoena for more than a decade’s worth of communications, statements and even private donor information related to their work on “climate change” issues. Walker’s harassment of the think tank is just the latest development in his investigation against ExxonMobil for “misleading the public about global warming.” (Read more)
Tax day might be April 15th, but do you know which day is Tax Freedom Day? Tax Freedom Day represents the point in the year when average citizens have finally earned enough money to pay their annual tax obligation. Here in Nevada, the average citizen would have to work from January 1st straight through to April 21st in order to earn enough money to pay for their entire year’s tax bill. (Read more)
Sweden might be one of the world’s richest nations, but it wasn’t socialism that created its prosperity. “Imitate the stuff that brought us wealth, not the stuff that brought us ruin,” says Swedish writer and Cato Institute scholar Johan Norberg. Decades of taxing, spending, and a large government severely damaged Sweden’s economy — but tax reform, de-regulation, school choice, and partial privatization of the pension system has brought back new life and success to the European nation. (Watch the video)
Sharon J. Rossie
While we were all staring at that light at the end of the briefing process in Lopez, a quite a bit of maneuvering was happening, pushing the briefing phase out until the end of April.
For those of you newly joining the email list, Lopez is the northern Nevada lawsuit to stop Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program. This is the case that’s, at least for now, frozen the ESA program. An appeal of the injunction was filed by the State of Nevada (on behalf of Treasurer Dan Schwartz) and the case, on an expedited schedule, is in the briefing phase at the Nevada Supreme Court.
When last I updated, the Respondents (the Lopez Plaintiffs) were due to file their response to the State’s opening brief. The State would then have 10 days to file a reply — due April 11. Since then, several Amici briefs have been filed on behalf of the Respondents.
Now, it is typical to have these “friend of the court” briefs. In fact, it is so typical there are rules covering when such briefs are due. And, as expected, some amici briefs were previously filed… in accordance with court rules. However, several groups have sought, and received, from the Court an extension to file their legal briefs after the deadline — an extension which goes beyond the State’s deadline to file its reply brief.
“[T]he Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked the Nevada Supreme Court to extend the expedited briefing period to accommodate their amicus briefs in Lopez v. Schwartz,” noted a press release from the Treasurer’s office earlier today. “The Court granted their request, pushing the final deadline [for their briefs] to April 20.” NV Treasurer Press Release ESA filings
It is unknown why the Supreme Court gave leave of the expedited schedule for these late filings.
In an effort to ensure the State of Nevada has an opportunity to reply to all legal arguments raised in this case, the State (the attorney general’s office) has requested an extension until April 29 to file their reply brief. Respondents filed a non-opposition response today.
So, what does all this legal maneuvering mean to you, the thousands of Nevada families and children waiting in limbo? It means you must wait longer for answers.
I know this probably isn’t much comfort, but please know, your frustration is felt by the Treasurer and Attorney General and they are working diligently to get answers for Nevada families.
Asking for some finality to the process, State Treasurer Dan Schwartz today pointed out that parents
… are tired of defense funds, legal centers, and other groups who show up late in court to protest a program that asks the questions, “if we have spent billions and billions of dollars on our K-12 schools, why is our state ranked 50 out of 50 in education? If our schools are doing such an outstanding job, why is the high school dropout rate close to 50%, and over 65% for Hispanic groups? Not one of these groups answers these questions.
Attorney General Adam Laxalt — firmly supporting Schwartz and the ESA program — also stated:
As we have done from day one, my office will continue to provide the very best defense of Nevada’s ESA program possible, while also seeking to secure certainty for the thousands of Nevada families affected by these lawsuits as quickly as possible.
While many people see me as doing my job in advocating ESAs, I want you to know that my role at NPRI is not just a “job.” It is truly my passion to help families do what they know is best for their children’s education and future. I wholeheartedly feel for your families and what you are enduring. I have lived through being a parent stuck in the system. And, I see the turmoil and stress this roller coaster means on families within my own circle of family and friends. Like you, I struggle to keep the Zen. In all honesty, I draw much of my strength from the support I get from you. Your kind words, your trust in me and the patience you as parents directly affected show, keeps me grounded.
I have to remind myself — sometimes often — that, as my emotions run high, it is important to continue to respect our government process. And, as challenging as it may be sometimes, to let the courts run their course. In the long run, Nevada ESAs will sit on a much more solid foundation. If any changes are truly needed, fair and honest treatment of the questions in the courts will mean a solid foundation for ESAs, parents and our children in the long term.
It is the families of Nevada and our state’s honest leaders who will carry ESA beyond the court room, defense funds, legal centers, etc., and into the future. The petition sends the message to lawmakers that Nevada families want this program. If you put your address and email on the petition, we will be able to connect you with your lawmakers so you can make sure your elected representatives protect and secure the program.
Stay strong! And, #LetOurChildrenSucceed