Las Vegas Sun

January 30, 2015

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Embattled mental hospital to get more money

The Legislature is agreeing with Gov. Brian Sandoval to set aside additional money for the criticized Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas and to divert funds to pursue a drone research project for Nevada.

The general appropriations act, one bill to finance state government for the next two fiscal years, was presented to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee today. It calls for spending $1.9 billion next fiscal year and $2 billion the following year.

The act sets aside $3 million to hire additional staff and make other corrections at the mental hospital in Las Vegas. This would be placed in a contingency fund and the spending would have to be approved by the Interim Finance Committee.

The federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services cited the hospital for sending patients out of state to their homes without an adequate treatment plan.

The federal agency will conduct an unannounced inspection to see that the correction plan by the state has been put in place and the hospital still qualifies for Medicaid and Medicare funds to treat patients.

In addition, some $5 million is being set aside in the budget to finance efforts for the state to be chosen as one of six national sites for the commercial testing of unmanned drones.

Also unveiled was a $102.7 million program for construction for the next two years. It will include $4.9 million for the design of the UNLV hotel administration building.

The building will cost an estimated $50 million and the state will pay 60 percent, with the rest coming from private donations for the construction.

The appropriations act generally dictates how the state general fund is spent. It does not include the estimated $1.2 billion in annual aid to local school districts or the pay plan for state workers.

And an authorization act, which involves federal and other dollars, will be sponsored by the Senate Finance Committee.

Traditionally these bills are passed without major changes.

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  1. Let's go there:
    "The appropriations act generally dictates how the state general fund is spent. It does not include the estimated $1.2 billion in annual aid to local school districts or the pay plan for state workers."

    As Nevada educators continues to struggle with "doing more with less," in part, due to a half century of North-South funding disparity, and the other part due to uncontrolled growth in Southern Nevada thanks to the Clark County Planning Commission AND the onslaught of unchecked immigration, all having an adverse impact on the quality of life for Nevadans here in the South.

    Recent international educational rankings that rate math and science proficiency of 15 year old throughout the world in STEM education, places the U.S.A. 17th and Mexico at the bottom of the list. Most of the immigrants coming into the U.S.A. are from Mexico, and as we now realize, we are in a crisis mode trying to fix ELL education with bandaids, as Nevada's infrastructure continues to be underfunded.

    Parents are a child's first and lifelong teacher. Most of these immigrant parents send their children to school to be educated, without bothering to adapt and assimilate into the American culture by learning English. They must be required to become proficient enough in the English language to support their children K through grade 12 (that's a lot of years in the American school system), so that their children will not struggle so much, and be behind for an average of 4 years below grade level, if that, as many simply begin to drop out by middle school. This is a fact.

    One reform that would help, is tying student achievement to welfare allotments. If the parent doesn't take an active interest and support their child's education, the amount of welfare they receive should be reduced. This ought to reduce career lifetime welfare recipients, and lift up outcomes in education.

    It is time to think out of the box, and be partisan blind in lawmaking. I am very disappointed with the Governor and this 77th Nevada State Legislative Session, as for the most part, it simply puts bandaids on the chronic bleeding of issues in this state, and continues to "kick the political can down the road" to next session. Nevadans will soon turn to initiatives to make needed changes thanks to the do nothing but the status quo mindset that permeates Carson City every 2 years. Shameful.

    Such a rich state that so poorly funds its infrastructure. God help us.

    Blessings and Peace,

  2. One major change must happen in Nevada's mental health system: to provide mental health access to at-risk elementary school students. In every grade level, there is at least one third of that grade's students coming to school with huge mental health loads. This affects not only their academic performance, but it also affects their behavior and social adaptation.

    This situation has become more discernable as Southern Nevada has experienced unchecked and unsustainable growth. Public schools by law, must take all who walk through their doors (exception is those expelled under due process). This means that public schools have a diverse population that includes those with challenges. When educators do not address challenges, the students affected do not thrive, they only limp along through life and make the best of the situation, and with these kids, it is alone. As caring adults in a caring society we must reach out to these children with access to mental health services that meet their needs.

    A person who is in chronic need is unable to function sufficiently to learn a rigorous educational program. It is not in them, as their drive is to simply survive!

    If ever a cause that is worth championing, it has to be providing the necessary mental health access that thousands of suffering children need. Let's do that now, please. Thank you.

    Blessings and Peace,