(Nancy Dallas) – Jim Wheeler is a candidate for the Assembly District 39 seat (Douglas County, part of Carson City and Washoe Counties), formerly held by James Settelmeyer, who is now running for the Capital Senate District seat. You may learn more about Jim’s background and political views at www.jimwheeler.us
• Please write a brief summary of your professional and political history. Define your political philosophy.
I was 14 years as CEO of an automotive parts manufacturing company, I know what it takes to stimulate business and create jobs. My political philosophy is pretty simple:
I believe in the constitution of the United States and the personal freedoms and free market system that it guarantees.
I believe in the citizen government that our forefathers envisioned. Where intelligent, passionate, everyday citizens serve their constituents for a few years and then go back to their farm, ranch, business or other everyday life.
I believe in representative’s that put the wants, wishes, dreams and policies of their constituents above any special interest and even above their own wants and policies.
I believe in a God that has blessed this country beyond all expectations. A God that once in a while sets us back on our heels, just so we don’t get too cocky, but always comes through for us in the end. And always makes us stronger for our mistakes.
But most of all, I believe that I must earn your vote. Not demand it because of political experience, nor expect it because of name recognition, but earn it through sound practices and principles.
• You apparently have never run for an elective office. Why are you running for the State Assembly? As a relatively inexperienced legislator, what personal traits do you believe will serve you best if elected?
You’re right. I have never run for political office before. But, like many Americans and Nevadans I felt it was time to get back to the basics of our political beliefs. That is something that does not include the career politician, but instead envisions a citizen government. In these troubled financial times when our very freedoms are under attack, even at times by our own government, I felt it was time for the non-carrier politician, the average citizen, to get involved.
My experience as a CEO and businessman will hold me in good stead as a legislator. I have been lucky to be blessed with a more that proficient speaking and writing style that gets people’s attention. I do not speak “from the cuff” but instead will study a problem from all angles and only then give my comments. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I say so. Then I find the answer and get back to that person. Besides, people tend to listen to you if you make sense.
• What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing residents within your district? How do you intend addressing these issues?
The most pressing issues facing all districts within this state are the budget, jobs and taxes. These are not exclusive to the 39th district. I believe that I am the only candidate that has come up with a plan to raise $1 Billion in new revenue, while creating new jobs, without raising taxes by even 1 penny. My plan also puts forth a re-prioritization of spending that will take our state expenditures back to their basic levels. I would like to see us with a budget surplus through spending controls, instead of a deficit.
• What is your view in regards to Initiative Petitions? Should the process be more strictly governed, or not? Should those petitions advocating a measure that would cause a tax or fee increase be required to pass under stricter guidelines than a simple majority?
This is a question that only the people of the state of Nevada should answer. Currently there are 3 or 4 ways to put forth an Initiative Petition. In my opinion, and I put forth my opinion only as a citizen of this state, not as a candidate, the process should be tightened up at least where tax increases are concerned. I believe we should have a 2/3 majority to raise any tax. However, as your Assemblyman, I will pursue whatever the voters of my district want.
• 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?
As a citizen legislator, I believe I must stand with the wishes of my constituents. This is to stand against any new taxes. It is also my personal belief that it is a huge mistake to raise taxes in the middle of the worst recession in our history. Instead, the government needs to stimulate the economy by putting more money in the pockets of our citizens. The only way the government can do this is by creating more jobs and lowering the financial (tax) burden on its citizens.
• What are your views in regards to the federally mandated Real ID program?
Protection is one of the basic covenants our government is responsible for. Freedoms for the individual is another. This is one of those mandates that conflict between the two. In my opinion, at this volatile time in our history, we must secure our borders and protect the legal citizens of this country as much as possible. This particular mandate is a small step in that direction. However, the states should not be responsible for any costs this mandate incurs.
• Do you support ‘prevailing wage laws’ for state and local government construction projects? Elaborate.
I do not. Our country was founded using a free market system. Under this system bids should be given to the state for any project under consideration. We as legislators have no right to spend any more of your money than is necessary.
• 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; What help can be expected in the upcoming Legislative session to alleviate the associated problems specific to Nevada’s unemployment woes?
We must spur business investment in our state. Government spending, even on infrastructure projects, will not be a solution to long term employment. After much study, I have found that businesses do not wish to come to Nevada until we can give them some guarantee that we will not be trying to solve our budget problems by instituting new taxes and fees on the business community. Instead we must lower our government spending and keep the pro business atmosphere that Nevada is famous for. My plan is to completely alleviate all taxes for brick and mortar small businesses that have gross receipts of under $200,000 per year and any other business, such as home based businesses, with gross receipts under $100,000 per year. We must also deposit all state funds into local community banks, not large multi-national or multi-state banks, with the caveat that proceeds from these funds go directly and exclusively to Nevada business and Nevada mortgages. This will spur job growth in the private, small business sector as well as open up some cash flow for Nevada citizens.
• 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 of approximately $2 billion? Will you support the sunset of tax increases passed in the 2009 session? Elaborate.
I believe we must re-prioritize our spending and completely get rid of our recently ingrained “culture of spending” atmosphere. Instead, we must look at the things that the government is truly responsible for, such as: Protecting us. Taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves (as opposed to those who will not). And guaranteeing our personal freedoms and our free market system. If we use these things as a guide and begin with a clean slate, we will not only balance our budget, but may even be able to cut it.
• There is a state law banning the passing down of unfunded mandates to local governing entities. This has been frequently circumvented. What is your position regarding unfunded mandates? What is your definition of an unfunded mandate?
Just as the federal government should never pass an unfunded mandate to the states. Neither should the state pass one to the local government.
• 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?
I agree with the concept of charter schools and especially school vouchers. The taxpayer is shouldering the cost of their children’s education through their taxes. They should have the right to decide what is in their child’s best interest. Vouchers have been shown to create competition in neighboring schools and improve the quality of education through that competition.
• How would you address improving the performance of Nevada’s public school population?
We can look to other states to see what they have done to rectify some of the very issues we are now facing here in Nevada. For instance, we have been on a pretty even par with Florida as far as our national rankings in the past. However, Florida is now ranked far above us, even though their population percentages somewhat parallels ours. In the last five years Florida has instituted a comprehensive charter school program and a school voucher program that has the schools competing for their funding. They have also made it easier for retired professionals to obtain a teaching degree for part time employment. They also have the largest virtual schooling program in the nation, with the home school students required to do lessons on line. These programs have worked for Florida and can work in Nevada as well.
• As a legislator, what would you propose doing to encourage bringing greater diversity to Nevada’s economy?
Last year, during the height of the recession, the state of Texas reported an $8 Billion surplus in their budget using the tools they had available and without raising any taxes. Nevada can and must do the same. My plan, shown above, would do just that. Bring diversity to Nevada business through the place that also creates the most jobs, small business. Also, while we keep hearing that new business won’t come to Nevada because of our lack of an educated work force, my research has shown that the main reason businesses will not relocate, is that they don’t know what the tax situation will be in the future. We must institute a solid plan for our budget far into the future. One of the tools available here in Nevada is clean, natural and renewable energy. In my opinion we must exploit this source through the private sector.
• 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?
We must look at the way the tuition is being spent. It has come to my attention that there is one professor at UNR that receives over $1 million in compensation per year. If these stories are true, we must ask the Universities to correct them.
• 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?
I do support the new ways of supplying nuclear power. I believe we can use Yucca Mountain as a research and development facility to learn even safer ways of supplying nuclear power. We must open Yucca Mountain not only for a safe place to store our waste but also as an R & D facility. It is estimated that over 2,000 jobs will be created in the southern part of the state if we open it. Wind and solar energy will take much more to bring to fruition. It is my understanding that we would have to develop a new electrical grid to deliver these types of power. While this is an exemplary goal, it would be cheaper and faster to develop our geothermal, nuclear and hydroelectric power first.
• 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?
There are times when Lawmakers need to seek outside expertise before making a decision that will shape the future our state. Sometimes this is used not only for their own edification, but to show other Lawmakers that independent experts recommend a certain path. However, I believe the independent tax study we commissioned is ridicules.
• Do you support Nevada’s Right-to Work law? Should Nevada State employees be allowed to unionize?
As a former CEO and former small business owner, I believe that there was once a time that Unions were a necessity to guarantee the rights of the workers. However, the business atmosphere in this country has changed drastically since that time. Businesses today realize that employee retention is actually cheaper than turnover and training. It pays to keep your employee’s happy so that the quality and quantity of work and product stays at a competitive level. To find and retain the best employee’s a business must pay them and supply them with benefits at a realistic level. The state is no different than any other employer.