Reid it and weep

Andy Matthews

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Reid it and weep

Earlier this week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered an address before the Nevada Legislature. As I was reading through the transcript — it’s better for my blood pressure to read than to watch — I was struck by how much of what Sen. Reid said was either a distortion, based in ignorance or simply not true.

While it’s impossible to address all of the deceptive parts of Sen. Reid’s speech, here are the parts that really stood out to me.

In 2004 the residents of Clark County decided they needed more police officers on the streets and voted for a small sales tax increase to pay for them. This legislature provided half the increase in 2005, but told law enforcement to return to ask for the other half.

Clark County law enforcement officials have waited seven years to put more cops on their beats, and the people they protect can wait no longer. Putting more police on the streets is vital to ensuring our neighborhoods are safe.

It sounds nice, but Las Vegas Metro doesn’t want to increase taxes on Clark County residents to hire new cops. Metro wants “flexibility” in how it can use that money. And since Nevada’s collective-bargaining laws give enormous power to labor unions, “flexibility” will mean a fat pay raise for the 1,998 Metro employees who took home more than $125,000 in pay and benefits in 2011 and the 852 employees whose compensation topped $150,000.

Sen. Reid continued:

But despite a decade of rumors and several concrete proposals, Las Vegas still doesn't have a major, multi-use arena — the kind of stadium that could host anything from a concert to a major sporting event. …

But it's time we united around this idea to move Southern Nevada's economy forward.

Now, it would be great if a private company wanted to fund a stadium or dome, but scores of economists have shown that publicly funded stadium projects don’t move economies forward — they actually reduce inflation-adjusted, per-person income. Villanova University professor Rick Eckstein writes, “I have been studying and writing about publicly financed stadiums for more than 10 years and cannot name a single stadium project that has delivered on its original grandiose economic promises…”

Next, Sen. Reid said:

Nevada can no longer afford to put off investments in our children. If we ever hope to compete with students from Tucson or Burbank — never mind students from Tokyo or Berlin — we must adequately fund education today.

I’m no longer surprised when politicians like Harry Reid ignore the fact that Nevada has nearly tripled inflation-adjusted, per-pupil education spending in the last 50 years. But that doesn’t mean our kids aren’t still harmed when politicians try, once again, to “fix” education by dumping more money into a broken system.

Even research from Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau has confirmed that as spending increased during the 2000s, Nevada’s graduation rate plummeted.

We know what works: school choice. School choice raises test scores, increases graduation rates and saves money. No wonder politicians in the pockets of teacher unions oppose school choice so strongly.

Sen. Reid saved one of his biggest whoppers for last, though:

The renewable-energy industry has been a bright spot during dark economic times, helping our state attract new businesses and create thousands of jobs that can never be outsourced.

NPRI’s Nevada Journal has shown that $1.3 billion in government handouts to renewable-energy companies since 2009 has produced only 288 permanent, full-time jobs. Sen. Reid is right that there are “thousands” of jobs that can no longer be outsourced. That’s because those temporary construction jobs no longer exist.

Do you ever listen to a politician like Harry Reid talk, and get the feeling that almost everything he’s saying is twisted or inaccurate?

That feeling doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It means you’re paying attention.

Take care,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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