(Nancy Dallas) – Tom Grady is running for re-election and a 5th term in the Assembly District 38 seat. You can learn more about Tom’s background and political positions at www.tomgrady4nevada.com
• Please write a brief summary of your professional and political history. Define your political philosophy.
After serving on numerous local and state boards as a volunteer learning the ropes, it was time to look at an elected position. I served on boards under Governors Bryan, Miller, and Guinn. I was on the Yerington City Council (1979-1981), elected Mayor of Yerington (1981-1993), and currently running for my 5th two-year term representing District 38 in the Nevada Assembly.
I have spent 30 years working for community banks and 10 years as the Executive Director of the Nevada League of Cities, representing all cities in Nevada.
My political philosophy is quite simple: listen to the people, be honest and responsible, help your constituents, and do what is best for Nevada.
• You have eight years of experience in the Nevada Legislature. What do you consider your greatest legislative achievements? Elaborate.
After being elected in 2002, the Nevada Legislature began with many of the same financial issues as we face today. I am proud to be one of the “Mean 15” Republicans to vote against the largest tax increase for the state. It soon proved in the 2005 session that it was not a necessary increase as the governor sponsored a rebate and gave money back to the people.
During my legislative career, I have made it a priority to sponsor bills requested by cities, counties, and school districts in my district working closely with the local elected officials on their needs.
• There has been a definite philosophical split amongst Republican legislators in recent sessions in regards to how to best balance the budget. Some have supported major tax increases, while others have stood adamantly against any measures that would increase taxes. Where do you position yourself in relation to these Republican factions and how do you respond to those who attack your position on such measures?
Debate and discussion have always played an important part of our Republican caucus. Never have we been told how to vote, but always listen to all sides and read the entire bill. I have voted for bills on tax increases when those increases had been voted on by the people. As a member of the Ways and Means money committee, we look carefully at the governor’s budget and review all taxes and fees. Lyon County has been one of the fastest growing areas per capita. With increased population, there comes more need for services. Some requests come from our local governments around the state. If you look back at 2003, the support of our position on taxes was not unanimous. We had 4 or 5 members voting yes on the tax increase. Fifteen of us did not support the increase. On the other side of the aisle, 99% of the vote is always unanimous from their caucus.
Requests must be considered on a case-by-case basis. I do not believe we should just vote “No”. I believe we must consider the bill, debate the issue, offer amendments that you can support, and, then, vote.
• Nevada has gone from being one of the fastest growing states in the union to having one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation; Lyon County from the fastest growing county per capita in the state to having one of the highest unemployment rates in Nevada? What help can be expected in the upcoming Legislative session to alleviate the associated problems specific to Lyon County’s unemployment woes? Nevada’s unemployment woes?
Unemployment is a national problem and Nevada’s unemployment must be a high priority for all. Lyon County’s unemployment rate of 19% is one of the highest in the country and approximately 6% higher than the state average.
We are forced to continue to borrow from the federal government to fund this liability. This only adds to our problem. More taxes won’t fix the problem, as business will downsize when taxes and fees are raised. We must encourage private capital in renewable energy, turn our foreclosure problems around, assist in securing financing for home buyers, assist with construction projects, and encourage tourism to stabilize our declining sales and gaming tax base. We must all work together on a city, county, state, and national level to resolve issues on a non-partisan level and quit the partisan posturing that helps no one.
• Would you support the former Yerington Anaconda Copper mine site being placed on the Superfund National Priorities List? Explain.
The Yerington mine site can be cleaned up and turned into an asset for south Lyon County that will help the whole county. I do not believe Anaconda (ARCO, B.P.) is interested in helping the community. They are only concerned with their bottom line on their financial report. EPA is not forcing the clean up. We have been in this battle for 20 years with no significant results. We have been told the Super Fund has little money. We have a responsible party (ARCO) who caused the problem and should be made to clean it up now.
It is time our Congressional delegation to step up and to provide us the help needed to push EPA and ARCO. Until pressure is put on them, they will continue to drag their feet.
• What do you feel are other pressing issues facing residents within your district? How do you intend addressing these issues?
The issues facing District 38 are the same as our state issues: unemployment, foreclosures, and declining home values leading to lower property tax assessment. Our sales tax statewide continues to fall due to the lack of construction, lower tourism numbers, and less gaming revenues—all of which affect all Nevada.
• Nevada will be facing some major budget decisions in the 2011 Legislative session. What would be your priorities in balancing a budget that is projected to be in deficit approximately $2 billion? Will you support the sunset of tax increases passed in the 2009 session? Elaborate.
I believe I answered part of the question in my last response. It would be optimistic if we could get our deficit down to your figure of $2 billion. The projection is somewhere between $3 and $3.5 billion.
Again, we must reduce spending even more. Cuts in spending means cuts in service that Nevadans must be ready to accept. Carefully and thoroughly review each budget for any further cuts. Partnering with other governments in the state and with the private sector to perform services and other projects. Consolidate when it makes sense.
As for the sunset of the tax increases and more importantly, the lack of further reserve funds, and the end to stimulus funding will all compound our problem. All of these issues combined must be given our first and highest priority. Both Republican and Democrats must sit down in bi-partisan manner to accept the fact we have a financial problem that cannot be ignore and must be solved. I intend to be part of that solution by going to the table to look at all issues and support a long-term solution to the problem. Spending cuts and reorganization of the way we do business must come first.
• You are well aware there is a state law banning the passing down of unfunded mandates to local governing entities. You are also aware, this has been frequently circumvented. What is your position regarding unfunded mandates? What is your definition of an unfunded mandate?
Unfunded mandates come from the federal government to states and also to local governments. While I was Executive Director of the Nevada League of Cities, we worked with NACO on an advisory question on unfunded mandates. The vote was overwhelming in favor of prohibiting the unfunded mandate on local governments. The Legislature found a way around this problem and still uses it today. I do not support this pass down from either the feds to states or states to local governments.
Any unfunded mandate is any mandate from a higher authority to those below without the money to pay for that mandate. Allowing the entity affected to raise taxes inside or outside the state cap is not the answer and should be prohibited.
• Where do you stand in regards to schools of choice, charter schools, school vouchers? Assuming you support these programs in concept, as a State Assemblyman to what degree would you support state funding of them?
Programs for education outside of the traditional K-12 system must be considered. ACE Charter School in Reno and the Andre Agassi Academy in Clark County are examples of very successful schools. They still come under the state board oversight and receive some funding. Full support is not the answer, as more funds will bring in more state control and put them where K-12 is now. Each year we learn more on these schools and how they improve in their operation. I attended a private school in Reno from 1st grade through high school. It was not state supported and some times had financial problems but worked out of them. This, in my opinion, is what makes them stronger and successful. They now have one of the most modern, up-to-date, successful programs of any high school in the state.
• How would you address improving the performance of Nevada’s public school population?
We need to change how we do business in our schools. It is time to re-evaluate the whole program. The more money accepted from Washington DC; the more they control us. I would like to learn more on Empowerment Schools. I would like to see a new formula where each school district receives funding and school boards are held accountable for the success of their schools. They should know more about their schools than someone in Washington DC or more than the state legislature. Schools are different in each area and must be given latitude to find success for the population each serves. We need school board, administration, teachers, parents, and student support and pride to change our schools. We need less control by the outside or organized factions and more local control.
• As a legislator, what would you propose doing to encourage bringing greater diversity to Nevada’s economy?
As mentioned above, we can no longer depend on gaming and tourism. We must look at developing “green energy”, work with mining, support our agriculture industry, and promote tourism for all Nevada. I think “Nevada is a great place to work and play” needs to be used in all advertising. We need to get our fiscal house in order, then, attract business from our neighbors to the west. We must also show stronger support for local business by working with them and not taxing them out of business. We must, on the legislative level, pass taxation legislation that is fair and equal and stop targeting certain business at each session.
• State tuition support of in-state students at Nevada’s two universities ranks far above the national average. Would you support reducing this support in an effort to reduce budget deficits?
I do not believe we are “far above” other universities. It is my belief these funds are sometimes misdirected. The fire school in Carlin is a good example. About $6.00 of each student credit fee goes to pay the debt on this troubled facility. As for reducing the budget, we must look at this budget and every budget to see where budgets can be changed. We must be diligent in cutting any and all waste.
• What do you see as the best means of providing sustainable, affordable energy to Nevada? Do you support nuclear power? How would you address the issue of dealing with nuclear waste?
While far from an expert on nuclear waste, I would like some honest input on the reuse of the rods rather than storing them. Can they be recycled safely, and is there possible money in the process to help Nevada? This could lead to economic development possibilities to help the state, cities, counties, schools, and our general population.
• What is your position in regards to the state spending $500,000 to fund an independent tax study of the State’s tax structure by an outside expert; and, appointment by the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) of a 15 member “Nevada Vision Stakeholders Group” to study how the state is preparing for its future?
If the study is done in a bipartisan manner looking at the total tax structure, it will be money well spent. If it is accepted and put on a shelf like past studies, it will again be a waste. It is the same old problem…who controls the agenda and what are their true priorities? The Nevada Vision Stakeholders Group can be a great asset if past, present, and future revenues are considered and recommended changes are realistically based on needs not wants.
• Do you support Nevada’s Right-to Work law? Should Nevada State employees be allowed to unionize?
I do support Nevada Right-To-Work Laws. I also support the employee’s right to a safe, controlled work environment with the right to due process.
• Is there an issue I have not addressed that you would like to expound upon? Go for it…….
People of Nevada must realize we are now in very trying financial times. Our employment is at an all time high. (Not the time to raise taxes). Our state is at the top in foreclosures because of unfair and untruthful lending practices and unemployment. Businesses are closing and our tourism is still declining. (No spendable extra family income.)
We must go into the 2011 session ready and willing to work from day one to day 120 and look at everything from city, county, and state spending along with school spending to truly try to partner with each government as well as the private sector to change the way we do business.
Let’s look carefully how we spend the stimulus money. With 19% unemployment still in Lyon County, stimulus funding is not working. Where has this money gone? There are Interim Committees looking at the stimulus money and the Nevada Vision Group looking at taxes. Let’s hope they provide answers for our consideration.
Lastly, we have very important primary and general elections coming up. We must decide who can and has done the job. From the U.S. Senate for Nevada to the governor to the state senate and assembly to all the races in between and our local races, we must use care to select the people who can and will do the job for Nevada and speak up for our citizens.
We have reapportionment that could have a big impact on rural Nevada.
We have only 120 days to do this and all the other work of the legislature. The assembly will loose 10 legislators due to term limits (9 Democrats and 1 Republican) plus a number of our members who are running for vacant Senate seats. We as Republicans need to keep all the seats we presently have plus secure some vacant seats to get to at least veto proof (15) minority. This is the year we need to support Republicans who can get the job done.
I feel I am that person and would appreciate your vote in the primary and general election. My phone number is 775.463.2612. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my website is www.tomgrady4Nevada.com.