Educators Stepping Up Pressure on Lawmakers

Nevada Legislature 2003
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State lawmakers return to Carson City next week to begin another special session and resume their search for an agreement on taxes and education funding.

The legislators have been in recess since a first special session reached an impasse a week ago, but those involved in this controversy have hardly been idle.

There have obviously been private conversations aimed at finding a way out of the deadlock, but now there's going to be an attempt to involve the public. Its an attempt to enlist the public to change the minds of a few key lawmakers.

You'll be hearing about it in the days ahead. Whether it will move any votes isn't clear.

The radio commercial and accompanying newspaper ads and a phone campaign, are the state's teachers taking the gloves off in an attempt to pry loose the votes necessary to end the deadlock over a tax plan, along with school funding that's been held hostage by the dispute.

John Marvel is one of nine Assembly Republicans targeted by the campaign. He's also Wormley's assemblyman and he was endorsed by the Education Association prior to the last election.

The veteran lawmaker from Battle Mountain, now representing pieces of Lander, Humboldt and Washoe counties, points out the Assembly Republicans didn't want the school funding bill linked to the tax plan.

And he says it would have been passed long ago, if Democrats in the lower house hadn't put the two together.

The move was an attempt to force passage of the tax plan as it put any reluctant lawmakers in the position of voting against school funding, if they said no to the tax package.

The teachers' public campaign reinforces that argument.

Marvel and others we talked with today, remain unmoved and insist they will continue to oppose the tax plan, until the governor opens up the budget for further cuts.

A tax plan needs a two-thirds vote.

So far they've had enough to block it.

Marvel says the campaign may, in fact, harden positions. There's already evidence of that's taking place.

Earlier this week, Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick was quoted as saying he was confident that, if the Governor shut down state government on July 1st, they could take him to court and prevail.

Today the Governor is being quoted as saying he might consider a lawsuit against those lawmakers who've been holding things up.

Privately, people on both sides still say they expect some kind of agreement before long.

As we listen to the public rhetoric, it's going to be hard to remember that in the next week or so.

As for what the lawmakers are hearing from the public?

That depends on who you talk with. Marvel says he just toured his district and heard overwhelming support for holding firm for a lower tax number.

The teachers doubt that's an accurate read on the public's attitude, but they'll be spending money in the next few days to make that point.