Teacher unions have dominated the debate and direction of education for almost three decades. They have used vast amounts of money to lobby for the legislative authority needed to force teachers to pay more dues, thereby perpetuating union agendas.
Back in February, Robert Reich, former Clinton Secretary of Labor, wrote an editorial in USA Today titled "Regulation is Out, Litigation is In." It was a liberal treatise extolling the merits of litigation as a tool for bureaucrats, not to mention mercenary-minded attorneys, announcing that "the era of big government is out, but the era of regulation through litigation had just begun." Reich was referring to the lawsuits levied against the tobacco industry and how governments at all levels would benefit— specifically by the revenue they would generate. But tobacco was just the beginning. Today we have the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit, cities throughout the country suing gun manufacturers, retroactive lawsuits against former manufacturers of lead paint and a federal suit against American Airlines. Attorneys generals throughout the country—including Nevada’s Frankie Sue Del Papa—have used these suits to promote their aspirations for higher office. But the cost to taxpayers is far too high.
Under the guise of providing needy children with health coverage, the president and Congress enacted a wasteful program, dubbed "MediKid," as part of the 1997 budget deal. Before leaving office, Governor Bob Miller seized upon the Clinton initiative, which amounted to incrementalized "Hillary Care," naming it Nevada Check Up. It was part of a larger intrusive program called Family to Family made available shortly thereafter. Financed partly through Medicaid cuts and partly through increased taxes on the poorest Americans, MediKid was created out of a weak understanding of health insurance and children’s health care needs. Nevada will only compound the initial mistakes of the ill-conceived Clinton/Miller plans if it expands Nevada Check Up. In spite of its good intentions, the program neglects children’s real health needs and places them in a health care system where bureaucrats and politicians—rather than parents and health care professionals—control decisions and spending. Far from improving our children’s health, the proposed MediKid expansion will actually bring us ever closer to universal government-run health care.
Against a background of a $150 million shortfall—largely a legacy of former Governor Bob Miller’s largess to his liberal cronies and special interests—Governor Kenny Guinn has put state agencies on notice that their bottom lines will be scrutinized, waste will be eliminated and privatization, where possible, will be employed. There is nothing like practicality and need to drive policy objectives. But how practical is a state-level privatization program? How can one be implemented without causing public employees and teachers to feel threatened? Are there any other states that have gone down this road before so we might learn from their successes—and more importantly, their errors?