(Nancy Dallas) – Pat Hickey is a candidate for the Assembly District 25 seat (Reno), formerly held by Republican Heidi Gansert (who decided to not run for re-election). You may learn more about Pat’s background and political views at www.votepathickey.com
• You served in the Nevada Assembly for one term, during the 1997 session. What was your greatest accomplishment? How do think the upcoming legislative session will differ from the 1997 session?
The ‘97 Session was one of the longest on record. I argued passionately on the Education Committee for Charter Schools and school choice for parents. Charter Schools have since arrived. Choice and market-driven education reforms are still on the table. I hope to argue as persuasively for them in the 2011 Session.
One thing I accomplished was to stand against the media’s attempt to open the private files of state employees for fishing expeditions by reporters. Although I’d been a reporter, I didn’t agree with the press that merely being a state employee makes you in effect, a “public figure.” I also was one of only two assemblymen to vote against the final budget package. I knew then—what we’ve discovered now; government was growing too fast and becoming unaffordable for Nevada.
The 2011 Session will have a large number of freshmen. In many ways that is a good thing. But in my case, I’ll go back as a “freshman” with knowledge of the process and with at least a little savvy on how not to let the lobbyists lead you round by the nose.
• Why should the voters in your district elect you over your Primary opponents? Describe your political philosophy.
I’m a native Nevadan. I’ve lived and owned a business in the District for over 20 years. I’m the only candidate with any elected experience. I’m someone with real world experience running a small business. The old adage about having to have met a weekly payroll before getting elected applies to me. I’ve also been a working journalist covering the Nevada Legislature for the Nevada Appeal, the Nevada Business Magazine and was editor of NPRI’s Nevada Journal. I understand the limits of what government can and cannot do.
• What are the demographics of your district? What are the greatest concerns of residents in District 25 and how do you intend to address them if elected?
Assembly District 25 in Reno is largely Republican. Being so, voters are concerned about the way government has grown in Nevada beyond the state’s ability to afford it. While most are against raising taxes, they do care about the quality of K-12 education and UNR. They support creative budget alternatives in education like giving local school districts more autonomy to spend tax dollars where they are needed most. Most, like me, are opposed to the kinds of taxes the Democrats are proposing, such as gross receipts, European-style value added and corporate income taxes. Where does that leave us? Learn how to do only what is essential and live within our means. Nevada can’t tax its way out of the Recession. Growing jobs is the answer, not growing government. Republican voters are clear in my district—they most certainly don’t want to see us become like California.
• What do you see as the best means of providing sustainable, affordable energy to Nevada? Do you support nuclear energy? Elaborate on this position.
Of course we should look at nuclear energy! Even Obama has grudgingly admitted that. Then we could also recycle the waste, couldn’t we? We should be on the leading edge of saying “yes” to alternative energy sources, not saying no. Should the taxpayers really have to accept the fact that all the money that was “dumped” into Yucca Mountain should just be lost? No. Innovative thinking could find a way to make nuclear lemons into lemonade for Nevada.
• How would you propose to address the issue of Nevada’s growing budget crisis? Will you support the legislatively implemented sun-setting in 2011 of those taxes imposed by the 2009 legislature? Elaborate.
Before any Republican sits down and talk about sun-setted 2009 tax increases—the other side needs to come to the table to discuss some of the bi-partisan recommendations made by the Sage Commission including opening up negotiations on the issue of public salaries and benefits in NRS 288 & 280. Without “give” on that issue, there shouldn’t be any new “take” on taxes.
• Does the state need to revise its property tax guidelines? Explain.
Yes. Nevada allows a property tax system with virtually no limit on what cities and counties can asses each year. Nevada voters approved a “Prop 13” referendum way back in 1978. Lawmakers promised reforms that would limit tax increases, but broke their promise. Fiscally responsible legislators should try again.
• What are your views in regards to the federally mandated Real ID program?
Despite the many privacy issues surrounded the proposed Real ID; one fact remains – until we have a legitimate and verifiable way to identify if someone is who they say they are and are legal residents of the state they reside in, we will never have a way for employers to determine if that individual has the right to work or to access services according to state and federal laws.
• 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?
Initiative Petitions are fine when they deal with broader referendums on societal issues—like Question 2 on the traditional marriage issue. A problem arises when petitions like PLAN’s attempt to change the way a certain industry is taxed. Constitutionally, the specifics of taxation policy should be the responsibility of the people’s elected representatives. California is a prime example of the initiative process run afoul.
• You note that problems in Nevada with illegal immigration are affecting our tax revenues and social entitlements and are bringing the state to the brink economically, and that these issues have to be addressed. What “groundbreaking legislation to mitigate the costs illegal immigration has placed on Nevada’s social service networks” do you propose to introduce? Do you believe the Nevada legislature should address the illegal immigration problem in the same manner as Arizona recently did? Elaborate.
While Nevada is “not” Arizona, we do face many of the same problems that all our neighboring Southwestern states are dealing with. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Nevada tops the nation when it comes to the percentage of illegal immigrants, at 9% of our workforce. In 2007, the Center for Immigration Studies reported that Nevada spends about $630 million annually educating, medicating and sometimes incarcerating the children of illegal immigrant families.
Democrats are claiming that Nevada business owners and employees are not paying their “fair share.” Therefore, it’s not unfair to ask the questions if non-citizens in fact are. With 140,000 Nevadans out of work, it is no longer true that “Americans will no longer do” some of the jobs we are talking about.
That is why I have invited the Director of Research from the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C to a Town Hall Forum in Reno on this May 20th to discuss the “High Cost of Cheap Labor: Unskilled Immigration in Nevada.”
Legislation I hope to introduce will include a fee on remittances and bank transfers sent primarily to Mexico that produces the second largest source of revenue for the Mexican Government. Secondly, Nevada should consider a Guest Worker Program like the one recommended in Utah by the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce. The fee for such a program would help pay for the social services accessed by immigrant families. Thirdly, Nevada should consider verifiable employer sanctions that could be implemented with real “e-verify” teeth to fine or revoke the business licenses of those who break the law.
• To what degree should the state support those students attending Charter schools and schools of choice? Do you support these programs?
Make school more about the job of teaching children and less about union rules and regulations that hamstring school districts and drive up expenses. Previously serving on the Assembly Education Committee, I was among the first to passionately argue for Charter School legislation; which Nevada has finally embraced. Today’s growing consensus on education reforms center on a new model of increasingly “market-driven education.” A recent NPRI article stated; “Under the plan, parents would be empowered to choose among competing public schools, whose funding would follow the students who enroll in that school.” Under such a reform, local school districts, principals and teachers would have the autonomy to manage their classrooms toward better competitively-empowered outcomes. To enact such reforms, the Legislature will have to end its practice of micro-managing the education system in Nevada.
• How would you propose determining and rewarding outstanding educators?
If parents and students truly had a choice to attend competing schools, Principals and teachers would themselves be rewarded by the shear fact of their success. Principals would be empowered to find and keep excellent teachers and weed out those who were unsuccessful. Lowering the numbers of children from illegal immigrant families would free up more monies for educational programs and even increases in teacher’s salaries.
• How would you address improving the performance of Nevada’s public school students?
The Nevada Legislature needs to stop micro-managing local schools. Stop saying what they “must do,” and start allowing them to do the things good teachers naturally do—teach. Many of the problems with the state’s test scores and “performance measurements” have to do with the socio-economic background of many of our immigrant students. Parents are a big key in students’ success. We all expect too much from our schools. Schools don’t make good kids. Parents do. The family is the first teaching experience our children have it follows them as they grow and have their own families.
• Do you support Nevada’s Right-to-Work law? Should Nevada State employees be allowed to unionize?
As a contractor, I most definitely support Nevada’s Right-to-Work law. Public employees have the right to unionize; but, the public also has a right for their negotiations and benefit levels to be scrutinized in the open public square.
• If elected, will you vote to uphold the legislated sunset clause on many of the tax hikes approved by the 2009 legislature? If so, how do you propose addressing an estimated revenue deficit of between $2 to $4 billion?
The number one issue for the 76th Session will be the size and the scope of the 2011-13 biennial budget and whether or not the next governor can persuasively argue for an austere approach to dealing with the near-term as well as long-term future structure of state government in Nevada.
Number two, will be whether or not Nevada lawmakers decide to re-structure “equitably” the tax system. Broad-based and non industry-specific might be worthy of consideration, but only after significant and compelling buy-in from business stakeholders and taxpayers throughout the state.
Democrats and larger government advocates will no doubt have plenty of proposals to consider. The role of pro-business Republicans like myself, must be as gatekeepers—ultimately saying no if those proposals will further cause us to mortgage a future that may someday foreclose on Nevada.
With regards to the sunset clause on the tax hikes from the 2009 session, I would say no at this point. Those estimated budget deficits are in part because Federal Stimulus money will not be there again unless the Obama Administration prints more money or goes hat-in-hand to China. Zero-based budgeting would make Nevada start with what we know we have and not what state agencies would like to have based on previous years’ budgets. Even Bill Clinton’s Arkansas did a better job than Nevada of living within its means.
• Do you support ‘prevailing wage laws’ for state and local government construction projects? Elaborate.
As a contractor who has worked on prevailing wage jobs, I can tell you it needlessly increases the amount of taxpayer money paid for projects. It’s there to protect the level of overhead unions require. But with Nevada being a Right-to-Work state, such provisions shouldn’t be required. Bids would be much more competitive and the state could spend taxpayer money elsewhere.
• State tuition support of in-state students at Nevada’s two universities ranks far above the national average. Would you support reducing the amount of this support in an effort to reduce budget deficits? Elaborate.
That process has already begun. That, combined with University System raising its tuition costs, is part of the natural evolvement that comes about when the state can only do so much. Letting universities keep more of their tuition monies is a step in the right direction.
• There have been legislative efforts in Nevada and other states to allow voter registration up to the day prior to or on voting day. What is you position in regards to this issue.
With only half of those eligible registering to vote – and only half of those actually voting—who besides someone like Acorn would want to do something as obviously questionable as that?
• The Missouri Plan for electing/appointing judges will be presented to Nevada voters in November 2010. Do you support the Missouri Plan? Elaborate.
Politics is a part of everything. Start with Little League and work your way up. Under the present system of electing Nevada’s judges, at least you see it out in the open. Under the Missouri Plan, politics would be done behind closed doors. Pick your poison. Either way, we’d all wish at least the Judicial System would be above politics. I’ll probably vote for the Missouri Plan.
• Is there an issue you would like to elaborate on that I have failed to address? Go for it….
Thank you for the opportunity to explore some of the real issues lawmakers will be facing come February. When I left office voluntarily in 1998, I did so believing as a citizen legislator that one term and done was a great honor. Returning this time to Carson City, I do so–not for the honor of serving–but for the responsibility of deciding whether or not Nevada continues on the path of “Californicating” its state government, or accepts living within its means when times get tough. Robert Frost and others preferred the lonelier road. Nevadans should too. Especially if we don’t wan to see our future foreclosed on because we couldn’t pay the mortgage.”