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September 20, 2014

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Memo from Reno:

Teachers back Rory Reid despite difference over higher taxes

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Associated Press File

Nevada Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid, left, is being backed by the Nevada State Education Association even though the teachers union and he are on opposite sides of the issue of taxes to pay for education. The union favors an increase.

Does the teachers union think it might eventually get a tax increase out of Democrat Rory Reid?

One of the gubernatorial candidate’s biggest backers is the Nevada State Education Association, which represents 29,000 teachers and other education workers throughout the state.

The group’s top objective: more funding for education. The way to get that funding? Raise taxes.

The union has long fought to create a “broad-based tax” to help infuse the struggling education system with cash.

Union President Lynne Warne said last week that members are hopeful the undefined tax will emerge from the Legislature next year.

So, why then, would the union back a candidate who staunchly opposes its top goal of greater funding and a higher tax?

Reid has long declared he will not raise taxes, especially in this economy. And last week, he said the state’s tax structure is sound enough not to mess with.

Further, his education platform, which he has made the centerpiece of his campaign, is “revenue neutral.” In other words, he’s promising no additional money for education.

He said his plan will strengthen the state’s education system and boost the economy by providing a well-educated workforce that will attract more business and industry. A stronger economy will generate more money for state coffers and more money for education, he reasons.

“What we need to do is reform education in order for the economy to improve,” he said. “Then I’ll invest in education. That’s the order of things.”

Asked why the organization is backing a gubernatorial candidate who doesn’t want to raise taxes or increase education funding, Warne said she believes in Reid’s premise that a bustling economy made possible by education reform will eventually lead to increased education funding.

So, will she back off her calls to increase taxes?

“I’m not backing off anything,” she said.

The tax increase is needed along with the economic recovery, Warne added.

But what if you’ve got a governor who won’t back a tax increase?

“I guess that’s a conversation we’re going to have another day,” she said.

Asked how that conversation might go, Reid was quick with an answer.

“I disagree with that,” he said about the need for a tax increase.

Reid says voters need to trust his education plan is backed by the “strength of my convictions.”

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Click to enlarge photo

Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 15, 2010, as she leaves the Republican party policy luncheon. Angle is running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle has taken heat from the media for largely ducking reporters during her first week on the general election campaign trail.

She hasn’t totally gone mute. She’s granted several interviews to conservative talk show hosts and news stations.

And she had plans to hit the campaign trail this weekend with appearances in Northern Nevada at the Reno Rodeo and a Carson City event.

But Republican consultant Dick Wadhams, who ran U.S. Sen. John Thune’s campaign that ousted former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, said avoiding reporters isn’t a smart strategy for long.

“Maybe it’s OK in the short term,” Wadhams said.

“But over the next five months, it’s important a candidate can fully engage voters on the issues. And that includes regularly talking to the media.”

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