Live blog: Nevada Special Session 2010, Day 1

Victor Joecks

And it’s begun.

The special session is officially in session. Scroll for updates and forgive any spelling errors.

9:37 First, a programming note: Computer use isn’t allowed in the chambers, so updates will be more sporadic than I prefer.

9:39 Liberals are out in force. Group of 80-100 students (Called: Save our Schools) here in the Assembly chamber. Funny how you “save” public schools by taking kids out of them.

9:44 Here’s background on what’s causing the special session.

10:35 Just got off a conference call with the governor. He has promised to amend the special session agenda to include the change to qualify for Race to the Top funds and a water rights issue.

The governor said vouchers will be added if there is legislative interest, but I doubt anything would happen on that (in this special session at least).

10:58 Twitter’s abuzz with this line: “Established: Cut in state support for K-12 schools is 10%, $130 million in real dollars”

What no one’s mentioning is that Nevada’s nearly tripled inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending over the last 50 years while results have literally been stagnant. Instead of talking about reductions, legislators should be asking why Nevada’s already enormous investment in per-pupil spending hasn’t led to increased student achievement.

Nevada has nearly tripled education spending, but results have been stagnant

11:27 As they talk about the funds sweeps and budget reductions, a great quote from Nevada resident Donald Robak (via Muth’s Truths)

“(Nevada’s government) just passed through seven fat years. And how did you (state legislators) treat them? You spent as if there was no tomorrow. You wasted and squandered. You treated our money as a personal slush fund. Not a cent came your way where you didn’t invent a new program or enlarge an old program. You betrayed the public trust. You were elected to represent the citizens, but you chose to represent the government, or even more insidious, your party.”

Well said, Donald. Joseph would not approve. And he’s right, Nevada’s inflation-adjusted, per-capita spending has increased by 30 percent over the last six years. We should not be surprised that Nevada is now forced to live within its means and that special interests are not happy about returning to more realistic spending levels.

12:25 Assembly is in recess until 3. Caucus meetings until then.

Patrick’s thoughts on the morning: With the governor’s new education proposals, Nevada will spend $40 million more on education than we did in the last biennium.

Geoff’s thoughts on the morning: Governor’s recommended adjustments on operations spending would amount to a 23% increase in inflation-adjusted, per-capita spending over the last six years. Currently it’s a 31% increase.

Lesson: Don’t believe the liberals who are pretending (or don’t know any better) that Nevada’s government is being crushed. Nevada’s government isn’t even going to be reduced compared to six years ago. It’s just going to be growing more slowly.

2:15 Just got the new Democratic proposal. Instead of focusing on reducing waste and bringing Nevada’s spending down to a sustainable level, they are adding back spending and increasing fees.

Geoff’s calculating how much the D’s want to add back and it’s $173 million. To pay for that they want to institute $57 million in new fee increases, double the foreclosure notification fee for $28 million and they want to take another $50 million from the mining industry (on top of the $50 million the governor wants to take from them).

This proposal is definitely moving in the wrong direction, just like Nevada’s inflation-adjusted, per-capita spending.

And remember, no matter what rhetoric you hear, the numbers show that after the special session Nevada is going to be spending over 20 percent more than we did six years ago.

3:08 Assembly should be starting back up here in the next few minutes. Education spending is up next, should be fairly contentious.

Instead of talking about accountability for the huge amount of dollars already being spent, I’m guessing we’ll hear many sob stories.

Remember what Patrick noted above: “With the governor’s new education proposals, Nevada will spend $40 million more on education than we did in the last biennium.” Don’t believe the scaremongers.

3:18 Assembly just started. A couple of UNLV students are going to testify first. And the first student is a … Ph.D. student? Those are the people we should be subsidizing?

3:20 I should note that Ty Cobb is kindly hosting Geoff and Patrick on the Assembly floor. I know Geoff (and potentially Patrick) will be testifying. I’ll certainly let you know when that happens.

3:21 Also Channel 5, KVVU, and 13, KTNV, from Las Vegas have interviewed NPRI on the special session. Check out their newscasts tonight.

3:46 More education administrators complaining about adjustments to their budgets. Great comment from @RalstonFlash: Also, choreographed “ed is dead” speakers tiresome.

3:47 Assemblywoman Smith asking about class sizes. Washoe Superintendent says HS classes are 30-32 currently.

Think about that. That’s over $300,000 in that classroom. A large portion of that money isn’t going into the classroom. Mismanagement and money not going into the classroom are a problem, not underfunding.

3:52 Complete garbage about class size reduction and early childhood education coming.

Assemblywoman Smith says “we passed empowerment reform and lost all the funding.” Here’s the problem, (aside from political considerations) empowerment schools don’t require extra money.

3:59 Spin, spin, spin from the education establishment. If we had more money, we’d be happy to be held accountable.

What about being accountable for the near tripling of per-pupil, inflation-adjusted spending over the last 50 years? Results over the last 50 years have been stagnant.

I know I’ve put this chart up already, but it tells such an important story when it comes to the education issue.

Where is the accountability for the education money that Nevada's already spending?

Unless something different happens during this testimony, I’ve got to take a break from blogging about this. My blood pressure can’t take everyone ignoring the near tripling of per-pupil spending.

4:16 Finally a breathe of sanity. Assemblyman Cobb notes that funding is not being decreased. Asks about institution reforms.

4:17 Answer is complete spin. “I love competition.” We have a healthy charter school system. But we need a level playing field. Public schools have to take all children. Doesn’t matter. Check out the experience of Washington DC, Florida.

4:27 Five minute break. Will hear from the teachers’ union next. Wonder what they’ll say?

5:52 Geoff and Patrick are preparing to testify. Some controversy over it, but Speaker Buckley lets them proceed.

6:01 Also, I’m going to be on the Casey Hendrickson Show with Heather Kydd at 6:20 tonight. Tune in at 840 KXNT in the Las Vegas area. If you’re outside the Vegas area, you can listen live on their website.

6:06 Geoff and Patrick wrap up their testimony. Don’t think Assemblywoman Kirkpatrick is our biggest fan. Will let Geoff and Patrick provide details later. Speaker Buckley asks them to wrap it up and they do.

6:33 Assembly and Senate have adjourned until tomorrow. Will be back with day 2 then. Thanks for reading.