(Nancy Dallas) – Re-elected in 2008, Bob Larkin is serving his second term as Washoe County commissioner and is seeking the Senate District 2 seat vacated by term limited Maurice Washington. Senate District 2 covers portions of Lyon, Storey and Washoe Counties. You can learn more about Bob’s background and political views at www.boblarkin.org
• Do you have a campaign team in place? Do you intend to invest your own money in this campaign? To what degree?
o Yes, I have a phenomenal group of volunteers as well as a paid manager. I have used this same team for the last two elections. Donors have been very kind to me and continue to contribute to my campaign efforts, even during this recent down turn in the economy. I have always either invested time or my own money where appropriate in each of my races.
• What are the most pressing issues facing your district? How do you propose addressing them?
o State Senate District 2 comprises approximately 60% of my current Commission District 4 population. This area has seen some of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. As a Commissioner, I have worked diligently with our State and Federal representatives to assist distressed homeowners who want to help themselves out of their economic stresses. The last thing we need to do right now with distressed homeowners is burden them with undue government regulations and restrictions. Reduced government spending and regulation are two of my top issues that need to be addressed at not only the local, but state level as well. Encouraging knowledge based businesses into the area is also critical as we diversify our economy and enhance our quality of life.
• You are in the midst of your second term as a Washoe County Commissioner. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments?
o During both of my terms, I was elected by my peers three consecutive times as Chairman of the 2nd largest county commission in Nevada. During that time and working with my fellow commissioners, with my leadership we have been able to reduce spending by $100,000,000 over the last three years and well over 500 government position without sacrificing critical and essential services such public safety and fire services. This was accomplished by working with and providing leadership to other elected officials such as the Sheriff and District Attorney, and appointed officials of Social Services. The Commissioners have also reduced their own salaries twice over the last three years as well. Government effectiveness does not need to be comprised by achieving government efficiencies.
• Why are you running for the State Senate? What are your strongest attributes as an elected official? Why do you believe you would do a better job than your Republican opponent, Don Gustafson?
o Our State faces very perilous times over the next 4 years. We need legislators in Carson City who know what they are doing and who have a proven track record at achieving what they promised constituents during their campaigns. I promised constituents in both 2004 and 2008 that I would stop the lawsuits between Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County, that has been achieved. I promised constituents that responsible growth would be the norm through sustainable planning. We have now linked our water resource with our consensus population forecast, whereby, population cannot exceed our water supply. I promised constituents that Flood Control would be coordinated and expanded to protect our most vulnerable communities. As Chairman of the Truckee Meadows Flood Project, we have started construction on some elements of the 50 or so flood features that will eventually comprise the flood project. I promised constituents that the long sought after South East connector would be approved and begun. The SE connector was authorized in 2008 and preliminary design as been approved this year, 2010, with construction schedule to begin spring of 2011. I have a demonstrated record of accomplishment on very complex and controversial issues and projects. This is because I understand the issues, I do my homework, and I seek the input of all affected parties. And, when it comes time to make a decision I have no hesitation to make that decision based upon the best information and in the best interest of all involved. I work with two city councils, 4 GIDs, 3 CABs, 3 county commissions, 2 states, and all levels of government. That is why I have the support and endorsements from retiring Senator Maurice Washington, Mayors Bob Cashell and Geno Martini, as well as County Commissioner Bob Kershaw.
• Do you support the importation of water from one governmental jurisdiction/water basin to another within the state of Nevada to sustain the impacts of growth? What long-term water sustainability efforts would you support for northern Nevada and the Las Vegas basin?
o Water resources are the realm of the State Water Engineer, but must have input by each County Commission before any importation project can proceed. I voted for the Honey Lake Water Importation project in Washoe County because it was sustainable, warranted, and based upon market driven forces. These are the criteria that I would bring to any importation project. In the case of the Southern Nevada Water Authorities requests, the State Water Engineer has taken the prudent approach in only approving a small portion of the SNWA’s application. It is yet to be demonstrated if the portion that has been approved meets my criteria as outlined above.
• Nevada is one of five states without constitutional provisions, amendments or laws providing for home rule to municipalities or counties. A ‘summit’ was recently held by Nevada city and county officials to discuss ‘home rule’ – which, among other powers, could give local jurisdictions the power to tax without legislative approval and limit the ability of the Legislature to take local government tax revenue. What is your position in regards to ‘home rule’? Elaborate.
o Home rule or the elimination of Dillion’s rule in Nevada would empower local municipalities to manage and sustain their own decisions and choices. I have always held and also demonstrated as a County Commissioner, that the best decisions are those decision made by people who must live by those decisions, which includes both the benefits and costs to those decisions. Local taxpayers must be given the right to make those decisions.
• As a County Commissioner you have experienced first hand the impacts of unfunded mandates passed down to local governments by the Nevada State Legislature. As you know, there is a state law banning unfunded mandates; however, you are also aware that this is easily skirted. What is your position in regards to this placing of unfunded mandates on local governmental entities as a means of alleviating State budget woes? Define what you would consider to be ‘unfunded mandates’.
o A current unfunded mandate is the decree by the State Supreme Court that requires county governments in both Washoe and Clark to fund indigent legal defense based upon a Supreme Court mandated amount of caseloads per attorney. In Washoe County this has driven up costs from $500,000 for public defense to over $3,000,000 in just 4 years. If left unchecked this could easily exceed $12,000,000 by 2012. The legislature could easily fix this by establishing that local attorneys may set their work loads based upon standards established by each Board of County Commissioners by ordinance.
• What is your position in regards to the findings of the SAGE Commission? The 2009 legislature took no substantive action in regards to their recommendations. Would you support legislative re-funding of the SAGE Commission?
o The only public hearing held on the SAGE Commission was at my request before the Board of Commissioners of Washoe County in March of 2010. I did this because it is absolutely disgraceful that a group of great Nevadans from all walks of life and political viewpoints came together, at their own expense, to provide their cumulative and collective advice and not one public hearing was granted by our state legislature, except for a very brief mention in one subcommittee. The SAGE Commission has well over 40 recommendations that could achieve in excess of $1 Billion of savings and efficiencies to state and local government over the next 5 years. I am very supportive of their work and as a Senator I would demand a public review, hearing, and resolution requiring consideration of all the SAGE Commission’s suggestions for improving government.
• 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 in regards to funding for Commerce & Industry; Education; Health & Human Services; Public Safety; and, Infrastructure?
o We have commissioned previous tax studies, all with the same finding, that Nevada relies too heavily on a couple of sectors of our economy for tax revenue. This is not new information. What would be new information is if the study would identify appropriate spending caps and to which programs, what programs should the State government be involved in, for how long, and if a sun set provision on those programs need to be codified within the enabling legislation.
• Do you support the current Interim Finance Committee (IFC) process, or similar concept? If not, how should the State address interim financial issues?
o In its original form, the IFC was strictly confined to the contingency fund. Over time, this simple task has greatly expanded. I do not agree with the greatly expanded role, but do agree that an interim review of the Board of Examiners decisions must be made to ensure the balance of power is not relegated to the Executive branch.
• You support more local control for the public school system. How would you propose this be administered and monitored?
o As an educator myself, the closer we move accountability, responsibility and flexibility to those that are affected by the decision, the better the outcome is that we seek. In the case of schools, we need to decentralize the administration and delivery of the educational experience to the lowest levels. A standardized curriculum template provided by a State review panel is appropriate, but those templates must be able to be modified at the local level, because not all feet fit into one size of shoe. The parents and the outcomes from each school are the ways to both administer and monitor every school, administrator, and educator.
• Do you support Charter Schools? School vouchers? To what degree should the state support Charter Schools and the students who attend them?
o I am very supportive of Charter schools, as well as market based outcomes as alternatives to public owned, run and financed monopolies. Charter schools should receive the same equal support as traditional institutions.
• What is your opinion in regards to Governor Gibbon’s Education Reform proposal?
o There are elements such as dismantling the State Board of Education in favor of an expert appointed body as opposed to an elected body that has merit. All day kindergarten is expensive with little, after the initial few years of school, to suggest any significant difference. Local empowerment of educators, teachers, parents, and students has the greatest strength in the entire proposal and I would support expansions of this component. Local school districts are significantly restricted by certain components of NRS 288’s binding arbitration, and require significant modification to give local decisions the maximum flexibility to improve and enhance our K-12 system. Market based options offer competition to monopoly controlled primary and secondary educational institutions and I am in favor of implementing market-based solutions.
• You support zero based budgeting and state you intend to support this view as a state legislator. Is this a realistic goal considering the lack of success of past legislators to institute this concept?
o The current budgeting process that the State has employed is a base plus concept, which is nothing more than a cost-plus contracting idea. The latter process works okay in an expanding business cycle, but is worthless in a contraction and elongated trough. The latter condition requires a re-balancing and detailed look at every program. The only way to achieve this is through a variant of zero-based budgeting. Ronald Reagan and then Director of OMB, David Stockman, did just that with a Democrat controlled House. Zero-based budgeting is not party affiliated, it is reason dictated. While party politics do play a role, necessity will ultimately be the rule during the next two legislative sessions.
• You state a strong belief as an advocate of lower taxes, smaller government, a broader state tax base, et al. In what could possibly once again be a Democrat dominated legislature, how do you propose successfully promoting this agenda?
o The same way I was able to pull together 2 cities and a county commission. Through intense dialogue, mutual self-interest, and ultimately asking the question, “What is best for the State of Nevada?” I am prepared just as I am at the Commission, to role up my sleeves, get down to the basics, and work for the best solutions for not only the residents of Senate District 2, but for the Great State of Nevada.
• Do you support the current law mandating the wearing of helmets while riding a motorcycle? Elaborate on your position.
o This personal responsibility issue does not require government intervention to solve. I ride on occasion and certainly do not need the government to dictate what I can and cannot do when it comes to my own safety decisions.
• The Missouri Plan for electing judges will be presented to Nevada voters in 2010. What is your position on the election/appointment of judges?
o The Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan combines what proponents consider the best of two worlds, appointment by an expert committee and a retention election by voters. Those in favor of this approach indicate that politics per se are removed from the process. Critics argue that the expert committee themselves constitute a politically motivated and appointed body that does not remove the suspicion of political maneuverings and that the advantage of unelected incumbency is really exacerbated because the incumbent will have never faced an original election. Results in the 12 states that have adopted this are mixed. I am not dissatisfied with the current election process for judges.
• Is there an issue you would like to expound upon that I did not address? Go for it…………
o Nevada must continue with its long history of not having a corporate income tax or individual income tax. I would oppose legislation that would attempt to institute either of these two tax burdens upon the citizens of Nevada. Further, I have not and will not raise anyone’s taxes without a vote of those that would be taxed, and the vote carrying that will must be of the majority of those affected. We have a great society in Nevada, we have been through many booms and busts since our admittance into the Union. We will survive this one as well, and hopefully, we will be much wiser and smarter about the direction we wish to take our State. I am open and available if it is the desire of the voters of Senate District 2 to place me in the State Senate. I would consider it a great honor and privilege to serve in the Senate and would not take it lightly, but rather as a solemn duty to serve the great people and State of Nevada.