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July 28, 2014

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Gibbons’ veto stings educators at rally

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Justin M. Bowen

A sign from Thursday’s rally against Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto of education funding leans against a tree in front of Valley High School.

Protest Tax Veto

Students, teachers and PTA members gather Thursday in front of Valley High School to protest Gov. Jim Gibbons' veto of the tax package. Launch slideshow »

On the eve of a promise from Gov. Jim Gibbons to veto education spending, dozens of educators and students rallied against the decision, calling a veto a lack of support for the state's future.

About 30 protesters decried Gibbons' opposition to Senate Bill 429 during an event Thursday organized by the group Nevadans for Quality Education in front of Valley High School. The bill was one of eight he ultimately vetoed on Thursday.

The Republican governor had long said he would reject the bill. (The Senate overrode the governor's veto later in the night.)

Mary Jo Parise-Malloy, president of the nonprofit, said the event was aimed at raising public awareness about the bill's effects on education and to encourage others to write to their legislators in protest. If it passes, the bill would raise taxes to funnel more money into the state's education budget.

"I made a promise a long time ago that I intend to keep. No new taxes," Gibbons said in a statement. "The Legislature has chosen to waste their time and your money creating a budget filled with a billion dollars in new taxes that will hurt every single person in this state."

Parise-Malloy said spending money on education in Nevada is vital to the state's future.

"We've endured over $180 million worth of cuts this past year," Parise-Malloy said. "If this tax package doesn't go through, we're looking at teachers being laid off, enlarging class sizes, and larger class sizes aren't good for anybody. They're not good for teachers, and they're not good for kids."

Among the speakers were Peg Bean, an intermediate resource teacher at Ronzone Elementary School, and Alison Turner, president-elect of the Nevada PTA. Both spoke about the need for better funding in a system already lacking in money. They said teachers shouldn't have to take on second jobs to make ends meet.

"This bill could mean the difference between people staying in the profession and not staying," Bean said.

With lower salaries, she added, it would be difficult to attract new teachers.

"These budget cuts could be critical for the future education of Nevada," Bean said. "If we want quality educators, we need to pay them a quality salary."

Melissa Morelli, a junior at Valley High School, said the veto would lead to activities being cut that several students participate in.

"If they're cut, I won't do anything my senior year, and I'm on student council," Morelli said. "Getting involved is what high school's about."

Daniel Burns, Gibbons' director of communications, said "a recession is not the time to raise taxes."

"Our (state) revenue is down 40 percent, and it's time to tighten the belt," Burns said. "Families are doing it everywhere. The government needs to do the same thing."

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