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February 28, 2015

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State Republicans taking a softer stance on taxes

State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, announced last week a $20 million-a-year plan to help Clark County students learn English. The bill would expand state aid to preschools, where state money is almost nonexistent. Clark County School District would be able to serve 6,400 young English language learners taught by 400 teachers and teacher aides.

It made for great, if obvious, politics — playing up a Southern Nevada program tailored to Hispanics, a key electoral demographic, and helping young children learn English. All this a month before Election Day.

But to say the program does not exactly fit into the wheelhouse Roberson established for himself during his freshman term last year is an understatement.

Roberson relished his role as the conservative fighter in 2011, attacking the state teachers' union on the floor of the Senate. He led the majority of Senate Republicans in voting against Gov. Brian Sandoval and Democratic leadership’s compromise to extend about $600 million in taxes.

“It’s the lazy legislator who says, ‘We can’t balance the budget and we need to raise taxes,’” he said in 2011.

Now, he’s all for extending the taxes, as proposed by Sandoval, and most Senate Republicans running for office are with him, too.

“I will not cut a penny out of education,” he said Friday in an interview in which he also vehemently denied politics played a role in his preschool proposal. “I would like to increase funding to education.”

The program proposed by Roberson underscores a perceived shift by Republicans at the state level. In 2010, they campaigned on, and in 2011 they attempted to govern by, a philosophy of cutting government and rolling back taxes. Now, their message is one of preserving education and keeping taxes at existing levels.

“I almost don’t know who these guys are,” said Sen. Mo Denis, the Las Vegas Democrat in position to be Roberson’s counterpart in the state Senate. “It’s not what they were talking about in 2011.”

Republican state Senate candidates from Sen. Greg Brower in Reno to Mari Nakashima St. Martin in Las Vegas have promised to not cut education, even if that means raising taxes. The Senate Republican caucus, in fact, recruited and endorsed candidates in its five key Senate races who did not sign a written pledge not to raise taxes.

Like Roberson, Brower voted against the tax compromise in 2011, but now said that he’d consider all tax options brought before him.

And some lawmakers who have signed the “Tax Pledge” are backtracking to the point where it looks like dissembling.

Tax-pledge signer Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, on the political talk show “To the Point” was asked about that pledge last week by host Anjeanette Damon, who is also the political editor at the Las Vegas Sun.

He noted that lawmakers could raise taxes on one side as long as taxes are lowered someplace else.

Damon said: “But when you sign it, you're pretty much saying the state government has enough money to provide the services it needs to provide.”

Hambrick: "Not necessarily. What we're saying is we need to limit the spending of government."

Roberson told political commentator Jon Ralston that money for his ESL program could be found within the existing $6.2 billion budget.

Roberson, in a statement, said the program will allow children the opportunity to succeed.

“Nothing we do in Carson City is more important,” he said.

In Friday's interview, Roberson, said the state made significant cuts during the 2011 legislative session.

“I don’t think I’ve changed,” he said. He’s still a conservative. “You can be pragmatic and reasonable and a conservative,” he said. He also said the program came about by talking to School District leaders. “This has nothing to do with the election,” he said. “It will be important after the election. It will be a priority next session.”

Denis, the Democratic Senate leader, said Roberson’s plan appeared to him to be pandering.

He questioned whether the talk now would lead to more moderate votes during the 2013 legislative session.

“I’m all for people willing to change,” he said. “But right now, it’s just them talking about doing things differently.”

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  1. Now that it is election time, we see the usual turning about face with the hardcore politicians. The political rush to NOT alienate constituents prompted "The Senate Republican caucus, in fact, recruited and endorsed candidates in its five key Senate races who did not sign a written pledge not to raise taxes." Gotta look like they really care...all of the sudden.

    Yeah, thanks for the profound mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, especially avoiding tax reform for MINING (so they would finally pay their FAIR share, after a century of a free ride on taxation). There is NO amount of political manuevering on either side of the aisle, that will convince me or others that political tigers have changed their true stripes at this juncture.

    Nevada and Nevadans have been victimized for decades, might I say over a century now, by corrupt politicans, special interests, and the MINING and GAMING/CASINO/RESORT industries.

    This election cycle, many have smartened up, and will research, observe, and follow the $$$ Money $$$ trail of each candidate. The People of Nevada have simply had enough of politicians "kicking the political can down the road," anymore. Thank God for the "Information Age," as constituents will be watching and voting accordingly!

    Blessings and Peace,

  2. Being bilingual or multilingual is really great, not only for education, but later on for job options internationally.

    For any English speaker, they will discover the depth and richness especially, in what are termed romance languages.

    I think it is good for ESL and EFL students to have bilingual classes together early, when they are able to learn the fastest, and so they will have others to speak with.

    If another language is spoken at home, it can slow the learning process.

    For this reason, I think it is also beneficial for parents to take second language courses, and make use of them at home.

    It also expands vacation choices in foreign countries.

    Practicing in everyday situations is essential, so parents can play a crucial role.

    TV is also helpful if an English speaker is learning Spanish. I learned to speak Spanish watching Spanish TV stations and a dictionary. I dedicated 2 hours a night to novelas (soaps). In six months I was speaking without translating in my mind first. However, I would recommend a Spanish grammar class as well.

    I got alot of compliments from Spanish speakers, as well as encouragement.

    Learning another language can be fun, and if parents and children learn at the same time, it offers some fun practice time for both.

    In the southwest, English/Spanish is natural. In the northeast, English/French/Spanish are good options.