(Assemblyman Pat Hickey) – This is the first in a weekly report I will be sending you from Carson City during the next 120 days of this 76th Session of the Nevada Legislature.
Returning to serve once again in the Assembly after fourteen years away, one of the most obvious differences is the large number of newly elected persons. Changes resulting from term limits, retirements and the usual election turnovers have brought 20 new (of the total 42) members to serve in the Assembly alone.
With the relationships formed during five days of New Legislator Training, I helped form a 2011 Freshman Caucus of the entire class of new lawmakers. Together, we hope our non-partisan affiliation will serve lawmakers in dealing with Nevada’s unprecedented budget deficits and accompanying policy challenges.
The highlight of the week was Brian Sandoval’s State of the State address. The new Governor’s speech outlining his proposed 2011-13 budget proposals, including continued cuts in line with the Economic Forum’s projections of diminished levels of revenues caused by the States’ worst-ever recession. The Governor was especially tough on education; both fiscally with renewed budget cuts, and policy-wise—with calls for serious reforms.
“As governor, part of my job is to tell people things they don’t like to hear. And when it comes to education in our state…our education system is broken. Not the people, but the system.”
The presence of Sandoval guest Michelle Rhee, the former Superintendent of D.C. Schools, famous for her removal of non-performing teachers, underscored Sandoval’s approach to fundamental reforms within Nevada’s K-12 school system.
Parent leaders and school officials from both Clark and Washoe County are encouraged by their own strategic plans and new innovative superintendents recently hired, seem to be on board with the Governor’s reforms, but they are equally concerned about education funding cuts outlined in his budget.
Serving this Session on the Assembly’s Ways & Means (money) Committee, those concerns are being felt, in pre-session budget overview hearings prior to the official commencement on Feb. 7th. Agency chiefs reviewing budgets and programs–are being challenged with implementing the changes called for by the new governor.
Having campaigned on “priority-based budgeting,” I am pleased to see the Sandoval Administration promoting a “priorities and performance” model for his budgeting process. You can view it: www.nevadaspending.com
On a more personal note, I hope many of you can visit me during the Legislative Session in Carson City or I’ll manage to bump into you back in Reno at the gym, the shopping center or at church. Hearing from folks outside of government, is the best-of-all reality check.
If you plan to visit the Legislature, please call my secretary Mary @ 684-8837. My office is on the 4th Floor, Room #4112. Please be in touch with any of your concerns. “See you” next week.
(Assemblyman Hickey is a Republican representing District 25 in Washoe County, Nevada)