Gibbons Announces Education Initiative

By: James Steiner
By: James Steiner

Congressman Jim Gibbons had harsh words for the Nevada Supreme
Court today as he launched an effort to protect state education.

Gibbons hopes his "Education First" initiative will require the state's education budget to be funded before any other government program.

Gibbons wants to re-instate the two-thirds supermajority needed to
pass any tax increase. He believes the Nevada Supreme Court over-stepped its bounds in choosing which parts of the State Constitution to enforce.

On Thursday, when the Supreme Court, set aside the two-thirds
constitutional requirement to pass new taxes, it set-off a firestorm
of controversy.

"Just because something is hard or difficult to accomplish doesn't
make it unconstitutional," Gibbons told a crowd in front of the Nevada Legislature today.

Justices thought the legislature's obligation to fund education was
taking precedence over the budget stalemate.

The assembly remained one vote shy, in passing a tax package, that
would have closed the state's $859 million budget gap.

"Had this proposal been in place during the legislative session, Assembly democrats could have not held our schools hostage - and this
what people demand and want," said Assemblyman Walter Andonov, (R) Clark County.

In 1994 and 1996, Gibbons spearheaded an initiative requiring a
two-thirds majority to pass taxes. It was overwhelmingly approved by voters and Republican lawmakers say this year will be no different.

"We didn't like what the court did and I think people will support
this without a question," said Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, Minority Floor Leader.

But, some say, Gibbons has other motives.

Protestors believe he's using the state's budget woes as a platform for his candidacy for U.S. Senator.

"It's a tool to take another office. I don't mean to be cynical but
it's a brilliant move, addressing the educating issue," said Ernest Walker of the \Washoe County Libertarians.

Many taxpayers agree but say the move isn't entirely truthful. They say the state wouldn't have been in this position if lawmakers would have done their job in the first place.

Governor Guinn only sought the high court's intervention, after a 120-day regular session and two special sessions.

And, still no tax package.

"Fund those needs" is all taxpayer Frank Baglin said.

Gibbons' announcement comes on the heels of the Assembly, going
back to the floor tomorrow, to vote on a tax package.

What did the Governor's office have to say about Gibbons'
Education initiative?

We tried to reach the Governor's office for comment, but a spokesperson told KOLO News Channel 8 Governor Guinn will not
respond to Gibbons' announcement today.


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