Yes, I was there today. And yes, I even testified... But I will get to that later.
Right now, I want to share the stories I heard at today's budget hearings. While there were rallies and TV cameras all over the place early on outside, there was compelling testimony happening throughout the day inside.
Jim Morrow, a professor at UNLV whose parents also served Nevada as teachers, reminded us all that "we fund what we value, we cut what we don't". He shared with us what he's seen on campus in terms of students not knowing if they can continue to afford school, and whether he can continue to access the resources he needs to teach. And he reminded us that we students are the future of this state. With no higher education, Nevada is screwed. For good.
Brandon Fraleigh, of Nevada Youth Coalition, wanted to let us all know that "there are kids who care about our education". He told the legislators his heart-wrenching story of his mother being disabled, his sisters dropping out of school after giving up hope, having to skip meals often due to inadequate food stamp aid, the bus he uses being constantly congested and slow, and the teachers at school constantly feeling frustrated due to their own workplace woes. All of this would be more than enough for others to just give up, but Brandon decided his education was far too important to give up because of his own personal difficulties. But yet again, his future is now being threatened... But this time, it may be The State of Nevada threatening his future if The Legislature agrees to Brian Sandoval's budget.
Brian Boothe is a middle school teacher and family man doing his part to educate our kids... Even as he's underpaid and underwater on his Northwest house. He's determined to keep teaching despite his family's hardships, but he warned the legislators that he won't be able to do this forever... And that Nevada only stands to lose even more educated professionals, and our hope for a better economy along with them, if we keep neglecting our schools. "We must stop cutting our future." He reminded us that even Brian Sandoval's #1 hero, Ronald Reagan, recognized he could not slash the schools to death as Governor of California, so he pushed for a, GASP!!!, TAX INCREASE!!!! in order to keep California's world class institutes of higher learning easily accessible and affordable to all residents. So why can't Sandoval follow Reagan's example?
Believe it or not, these were just a few of many compelling real life stories told today at The Grant Sawyer Building. Tomorrow, I will be sharing even more stories... Including my own. Stay tuned.