(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – A joint Senate-Assembly committee held another meeting last night, at Green Valley High School, to convince the press and the public of the imminent catastrophe that befalls us if the reductions in education spending contained in the governor’s budget are allowed to pass.
Although opposing views were presented, including by the author of this post, Assembly Speaker John Oceguera made it clear in this interview these hearings are not intended to provide a forum for those of us who support the budget.
At about 0:30 Oceguera says,
So we want real people with real problems to be able to come out and talk about how the governor’s budget cuts are going to affect them.
No word on wanting to know how tax increases are going to affect people or how the ever-increasing financial commitments of the taxpayers in this state have not resulted in improvements in student performance.
There were few of us there to provide a little balance. The Review-Journal reported on some of that testimony, including mine.
Some in the crowd called for more accountability from public education, meeting complaints from teachers and members of district employee unions about Nevada’s low funding for education with calls for better results.
More money doesn’t necessarily guarantee improvement, some speakers said, and Nevada faces a financial crisis.
“Don’t spend what you don’t have,” said speaker Dan Hickey. “That’s what my daddy always told me.”
Michael Chamberlain, executive director of the Nevada Business Coalition, said teachers are not the only people suffering in this economy.
“As many as 25 percent of people in Nevada may be unemployed right now,” Chamberlain said. “Business owners have had to dip into their savings to keep their doors open. Thousand of businesses have already closed their doors. We can’t afford to burden those families and those business more than they already have been with increased taxes.”
There was a smattering of applause after my testimony and after that of others who expressed support for the budget cuts. With teachers union members using their taxpayer-provided email accounts to inform and rally their members and students, along with assistance from the various progressive activist groups in town, it’s no wonder that the crowd was overwhelmingly opposed to the cuts.
The reality is there is little correlation between spending for education and student performance, which is, after all, the goal of education. Decades of rapid increases in education funding have not corresponded to increases in student performance. More money has not produced better results.
We need real reform to education that produces real results. Simply pouring more money into a failing system is not the solution.
However, if the Legislature decides that providing additional funding for education is more important than paying for other items in the budget then, by all means, shift money from those other programs into education. But what we cannot afford is to impose an even greater burden on the struggling families and businesses in this state that have been suffering for years now by increasing taxes.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)