Live blogging the final Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group meeting

Victor Joecks

Here we go. The final meeting of the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group.

Watch live here. Geoff’s thoughts are here.

9:05 Lang starts it off. Clarifies that he’s from New York, not Virginia. “I picked this place [Nevada].”

Well, welcome Chairman Lang and I hope you enjoy Nevada, but don’t think that living here for 5 months or 50 years gives you the right to tell others what determines their “quality of life.” It’s just especially ironic for someone who just moved here (in January, 2010!) to tell Nevadans what determines their quality of life.

Lang: I don’t want to bring big government.

Ummm…have you seen your Preliminary Executive Summary? Although to be fair the NVSG hasn’t approved it yet. Which Geoff notes, by the way.

9:09 Lang says universities should get to keep their own tuition. Not a bad idea.

9:12 Lang wonders what the NVSG would be voting on. Looks like there could be another meeting. Says committee members have ACCESS to Moody’s. That’s a change from before when I’ve been told that only Lang had direct access to Moody’s.

9:14 Moody’s is backing away from its Preliminary Executive Summary. “Doesn’t represent consensus.”

9:15 Again this is a total change. This was “supposed” to be the final meeting.

9:16 Don Snyder: “Not a political process.” Wants discussion away from the public forum. “Selectively” add revenue.

Again this was and is a political process, because it was set up by the Interim Finance Committee in order to try and justify raising taxes in 2011. That was the whole point of this process and report.

9:21 Lang continues to back away from the report. “All we have is an executive summary of a report that doesn’t exist.”

9:23 Snyder: Quality of life promises hollow without a more stable business environment.

Just a reminder to the NVSG, you don’t need government to “invest” in order to grow the economy or produce jobs. In fact, government investment hinders new economic growth.

9:27 Katy Simon: “We’re just a glorified focus group.” Wants to use 4th grade NAEP scores instead of 8th grade. Note: NPRI already uses fourth grade scores, because by 8th grade it’s too late for the students.

Couldn’t agree more with the focus group comment. Definitely a focus group of those who benefit from larger government.

9:34 Unidentified member of the NVSG is glad Dr. Lang isn’t from Nevada. Brought a new perspective.

I wouldn’t care where he’s from except that the whole point of this group is to determine “quality of life” goals for Nevada. I don’t think anyone should determine someone else’s quality of life through government, but for someone who just moved here to tell Nevadans what will determine their quality of life is especially distasteful.

9:40 At the moment they are going around the room and each member is giving their thoughts. Will post anything that’s particular interesting, but the take away is that this is going to be a long meeting. Nothing will be decided or voted on at this meeting, which is a change.

9:44 Unidentified member talking about innovation in education.

Innovation is going to be key, because nearly tripling inflation-adjusted, per-pupil education spending in the last 50 years hasn’t improved student achievement.

9:59 Lang: No part of this document called for tax increases. Guide posts for assuming budget restraint. Cut but give an opportunity to reform. What’s the third way?

This I don’t disagree with rhetoric-wise. I just don’t trust these words after watching four months of this meetings. But I’m willing to trust (but verify). If Chairman Lang or others are looking for ideas on how to increase results while saving money, we’d be more than happy to help. But I’m still skeptical of his intentions.

10:07 Susan Rhodes: This was a draft.

Again this is a big change from before, because today was supposed to be the final meeting (for instance see the title of this blog or check out the NVSG website).

10:14 After listening to about a dozen members talk about the Preliminary Executive Summary, it’s clear that the group is no where never consensus. Which isn’t surprising, because 19 different people have 19 different ideas of what quality of life looks like. Just like Nevada’s 2.7 million people have 2.7 million different ideas about what determines quality of life. That’s why it’s so ridiculous to think that these 19 people can determine quality of life for 2.7 million people.

That’s the beauty of freedom. As long as you don’t infringe on someone else’s rights, you can do what you think leads to the best quality of life for yourself.

If this was a private group that was going to use private money (and without the force of government) to try and implement these goals, I wouldn’t have any objections. The problem is when government tries to determine quality of life goals for individuals.

10:19 Snyder echoes many others grateful to Chairman Lang for his outside perspective and elevating the dialogue. Bonus joke from Snyder that’s funny, because it’s true! “He’s been here three times as long as when we started.”

10:29 Busselman objects to the idea in the report that there was ever a consensus. Lang says they’ve been held back on doing that, because the open meeting laws have prevented free-flowing networking that leads to consensus. Says it would have been different in the private sector.

Yes it would be different in the private sector, because no one in the private sector has the ability to take my money or your money or require us to do certain things. Leave these “qualify of life” ideas in the private sector.

10:34 Busselman mentions that the Brookings Institute says Nevada’s local and tax burden is 22nd in the country. Awesome.

Moody’s tries to brush it aside.

10:37 Robert Potter wants the NVSG to protect state worker benefits.

Umm … what happens when Nevada runs out of money, because our pension system is underfunded?

10:43 Potter doesn’t remember when the group decided they supported high-speed rail (although it’s in the report).

Neither do I.

10:46 Paul Dugan says UNR President isn’t happy with graduation rate at UNR! Wants more specific goals for K-12 education.

10:57 Almost done with the first round of comments. Not only is the NVSG not in agreement on the recommendations, they aren’t even in agreement in on the structure of the report.

Terry Reynolds says he’s for a smaller government in Nevada.

11:05 Lang asks the important question: How should we vote on this? What does the group expect?

In the short term though good news — we might be out before lunch time.

11:13 Lang: Why need language to defend why. Because we’re going to forward it to the legislature.

But wait … I thought this wasn’t a political process? Nope, this is a political document that’s going to be used for a political purpose.

11:15 Lang: Wants to vote at the next meeting. Wants a full report, not just an executive summary. There’s a hesitancy to vote on this, because we don’t have the background info. Lang doesn’t want a “hippie” report. Says the report feels too ambiguous.

And for all the grammar nerds out there, Lang wants the report in the active voice. Finally something we agree on.

11:24 Lang wonders if drafts of the report have to be released to the public. Worried the “public” will latch unto an unapproved version of the report. Wonders how to make the process look more like it would look in the private sector.

Easy answer: Do this in the private sector instead of in the political legislative process?

11:31 Rob Potter (public employee) on wanting to keep interim versions of report secret: “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

Wow. And just think, you pay his salary.

11:41 Good point from Keith Smith. Is consensus a majority or unanimity?

11:47 Okay, they’re going to vote on each category (education, business climate, etc…) individually and then they are going to vote (up or down) on the whole report.

Lang wants an “efficient” final meeting.

11:52 Voting method approved.

11:53 Date of the next meeting isn’t set. Will let you know when it is as soon as I find out.

12:01 Meeting adjourned.

As this is a live blog, please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors.

Read more:

The stakeholder two step
Four problems with the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group
Puppetmasters on the throne
Nevada’s future is at stake
A ‘vision’ of extortion and control
IFC to hide behind unelected stakeholders
Nevadans deserve honesty from IFC
Tax eaters host a dinner