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November 24, 2014

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Six Questions:

Peggy Pierce, Democratic state assemblywoman

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Leila Navidi

Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce says raising taxes “is the responsible thing to do” so that Nevada has the money to provide for the needs of its residents.

Second Day of the Legislature

Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, asks a question during a meeting of the Interim Finance Committee in Carson City Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009. Launch slideshow »

Peggy Pierce came to Las Vegas for a career in show business, but found work as a housekeeper and food server. She became active in organized labor and politics, and today she’s resource coordinator of the United Labor Agency of Nevada, the community service arm of the AFL-CIO. In December the four-term District 3 Assemblywoman cast the only “no” vote on a bill that cut spending to balance the budget.

Why did you vote no?

Cutting is always our answer. Business has promised us for decades that this extremely tiny government and these extremely low taxes would bring us a diverse economy. It hasn’t. It’s been an utter failure. And I’m not going to vote for utter failure anymore. It’s time for something completely new.

Such as?

Having a tax system that is fair and brings in enough money to provide the services and infrastructure Nevadans have a right to. It’s a complete fallacy that people moved here for low taxes. People want services, amenities. The old Nevada fetish for tiny government and low taxes is a minority point of view today. Nevadans want change.

We’re talking taxes?

Yes. Raising taxes is the responsible thing to do. These budget cuts are irresponsible. Frankly, a lot of the things over the years that were called fiscally conservative were just stupid.

What’s at stake this session?

The future of Nevada. If we don’t invest and stop cutting, we’ll get a nationwide reputation as a backwater place that doesn’t care about education or the quality of life in the community. Moreover, it’s not morally acceptable in a society as rich as ours to tell low-income people, “Too bad you got cancer. Good luck with that.” Those aren’t my family values.

What changed in the November election?

Americans have realized that this idea of tiny government isn’t working in the 21st-century global economy. If your society’s only guiding value is greed, you’re going to get into trouble. You need government rules and regulations.

How is the recession playing out at work?

The phone rings all day. People need food. It’s scary. This is the result of a system where wealth has been funneled to the top and regular wage earners were stretched thin. And then the recession hit.

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