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March 2, 2015

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Sun Editorial:

Thinking big

Nevada needs candidates ready to take on the state’s big issues

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In the next six weeks, you’ll hear plenty from campaigns that want to focus on criticizing their opponents. Don’t expect subtlety; hyperbole is king, and the facts be damned.

That’s something we have sadly come to expect in an election season. Talking points have taken the place of substantial plans, policy debates became personality duels and attack ads trump all.

This style of campaigning has filtered down to local races, and while all seems to be fair in politics, it has come at the expense of any substantial discussion of the issues.

Because Nevada is a swing state (President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, told the Sun last week that it’s a “bellwether”), the presidential campaign will consume most of the attention, but voters should pay close attention to state and local candidates.

If the Great Recession has taught us anything, it’s that the state needs leaders who have vision not just to move Nevada out of its economic doldrums but also to build the future.

The litany of recession-spawned problems facing the state are well-known. Nevada has had the highest unemployment rate in the nation for more than two years; foreclosures are on the rise; and 6 in 10 homes are underwater, worth less than the value of their mortgages.

But there also are problems that have dogged the state for years, such as the antiquated tax system and a shortage of medical services.

The state’s public education system has been mired for years in a situation in which reaching mediocrity would be progress. The economy has long been reliant on a couple of industries, and without a broader base of business, Nevada’s economic recovery has been slow. The meager social safety net has suffered from neglect, benign and otherwise. And the list goes on.

Many of these issues could, and should, have been addressed years ago, but they were put off by politicians who either didn’t have the vision or couldn’t muster the support to make the needed changes. Even in the boom times, the major issues facing the state were pushed off until a time when things would be “better.”

But times apparently never have been good enough, and as a result, Nevada’s weaknesses were all too evident in the Great Recession.

Some of this can be attributed to misplaced or misguided priorities. (Why, exactly, did the state need to spend more than $500 million on a freeway between Carson City and Reno? Why doesn’t Southern Nevada receive a fair share of revenue?) But the larger problem is a lack of vision.

It has been too easy to push off these discussions by saying there’s no money, and what politician wants to talk about Nevada’s inequitable tax structure when doing so can equate to political death? The political debate has surrendered to a discussion about what’s possible. At this point, given Nevada’s failure to invest in education and a number of other services, not much is possible.

The state can’t have another session of the Legislature in which lawmakers focus on minor “reforms” or talk about “doing more with less” or move to dodge today’s problems for another day.

Those types of discussions are bankrupt. The state has been paced by people who had big dreams and took risks in the private sector; it needs more of those types of people in elected office.

Instead of looking one election cycle to the next, elected leaders need to consider what Nevada is going to look like in 10, 20 and 40 years.

This is our home, and we believe in Nevada, but we’re left with this question: What kind of place will it be for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

That’s what this election is about, and Nevadans should be looking for candidates who are willing to paint a bright, positive vision and offer ideas to get us there.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing an agenda for Nevada — some of our beliefs about where the state is headed and what it can become. We hope you’ll join us in the discussion because it will take all of us to set a course that will give future generations of Nevadans a place to call home.

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  1. Leadership would require an unpopular stance: do something about ILLEGAL INVASIONS. Nevada has increased the numbers of illegals employed here--from almost 10% to in excess of 12% of all employees here are illegal. Ya think our regional economies are going to revive when we add to the drags? Yet, Nevada "leaders" such as Senator Harry keep saying Nevada doesn't have an illegal problem. ****, the illegals are moving here from the states that have sent them packing.

  2. Tanker, you did a great job pointing out the significant realities in education. Thank you!

    Additionally, the mining taxation injustice must be changed. We are talking about a non-renewable resource being stripped from NV land, by both US and foreign companies.

    They won't be here forever, and NV loses when it's resources are gone.

    Taxation must be reformed in mining, and what better way to use the money than to put it into education.

    However, that is only one part of the issues.

    Other countries seem to be able to place expectations on students, including appropriate comportment and discipline. This is a significant issue. It must be addressed and changes must be made.

    This is a matter of honor, and it is a waste to allow disrupting education to be ongoing.

    Maybe we need a locked down "losers" school, a place where the trouble makers must attend.

    That was in place when I was in school and it was a disgrace to be sent there. The trouble makers were sent there so that the other students could continue their education without disruptions.

    The students could be moved back to normal schools when they improved their behavior.

    Parents play more of a role in that kind of dishonor. It also says something about the parents.

    In relationship to that, we need some really good social workers to get involved to learn why there is a problem with students in school, and corrective action taken.

    If parents need some parenting education, that is also a good investment.

    All that said, it must be recognized that joblessness, poverty, health issues all contribute to the problems in the home and the schools. How much will change without growing the NV economy is up in the air.

    We need businesses that will employ people with professional, technical, and trades skills. We need diverse businesses, industries, and manufacturing, with environmental safety concerns attached to them.

    For all of this, we need truly committed and responsible Legislators who work for the citizens.

    Now, another bit of reality. How do you provide all that is needed without driving people out of their comes due to high property taxes? So many are living on fixed or low incomes. They may be the ones who bought and possibly paid for their modest homes, they need to be protected from losing the only asset they have. It will not serve any purpose to make them homeless because of ever increasing property taxes.

    All citizens must be considered in determining what is feasible and reasonable.

  3. The State's big issue is whether Harry Reid will come clean on his income taxes. Harry harped continually about Romney. Now, Romney came clean; let us see what Harry has hidden for all these yeare.

  4. We've dumped hundreds of millions into K-12 with no fix insight. The status quo keeps harping for more money, more money, more money. Why is the oversight, such as it is, ineffective? Why can't they teach our kids to read and write at grade level? We've ALWAYS had parents who won't or can't participate. So we degenerate further with each generation and they still harp that education will get us into a perfect world. Hasn't happened yet. We spend more on K-12 than many households spend on food, shelter, clothing, health care..... This is sooooo out of wack.

  5. Forget thinking big. Just thinking would be an improvement.

  6. As simple as Leric' response is....he's right. But what they need to be thinking and "doing" something about is what would they do if we were to be hit with another GREAT RECESSION ? Would we be able to survive one? My answer is NO.We have many major issues to deal with and leaving this town as a one income town(gambling) will cause us to collapse the next time around.If anyone tells you it can't're listening to the wrong person. We need to dig in and have our feet and economy grounded solidly so dumps in the economic road don't cause state wide problems. We need to rely on something other then gambling as another source of income.Our "elected" officials have to begin thinking outside their own box and stop thinking what they can get out of this.Nevadans REALLY have to be more awake to whats going on in this state and around them.The louder WE ARE the more they listen...believe me.Everyone needs to do their part,everyone !! Our school system is not up there in the ratings nor is our health care here.Maybe the stupid money being ear marked for the train to Victorville can go towards our school system and healthcare system and jobs.

  7. Oh let's just follow the Pied Piper aka (also known as) California. Illegals taken in and assisted endlessly. Illegals in K-12. Illegals in prisons. Illegals everywhere. Taxes, in California specifically, have reached UNSUSTAINABLE levels and people are revolting. Politicians say they have to cut--cut payrolls but not benefits??? A simple change to funding benefits ONLY for American citizens. So many "federal rules" allow and encourage funding if ONLY ONE in the household was born here. Nevada could (will soon) be as bankrupt as California. Just keep doing what we're doing. IGNORE the problem.

  8. Funny thing is that whenever President Obama comes to Nevada he's got his hand out. What has he and dirty harry done for Nevada in the last 4 years to improve the financial crisis in the state and on Nevadans? The answer is a big fat zero.