Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Who Should Be Nevada Lawmakers' "Special Interests"

Both Jon Ralston and Anjeanette Damon have been tweeting campaign finance as financial disclosure reports have been coming. Unsurprisingly, several Legislature incumbents have been raking in the most corporate cash. In particular, "business establishment" favorites like Senators Greg Brower (R-Reno) and John Lee (D-North Las Vegas) have raised six figure sums thanks to their "juice" with the likes of the Chamber of Commerce. And since this "legal" bribery is bipartisan, what's not to like?

Well, this.

Can you get a good quality education at UNR and UNLV? Of course you can. But wouldn’t you want the best college education possible from a school that attracts the best students and the best faculty? I would.

Both UNR and UNLV are not the best – they are not even close to being the best.

Nevada has always had the capacity, but never the desire to build world-class universities. That has hurt our ability to attract high tech business and to build very sophisticated financial centers.

Yet again, Jim Rogers got it right on the money. So long as Carson City continues to shortchange public education, our kids are not seeing the bright opportunities that they deserve. And as long as certain big corporate special interests continue to get their way in Carson City, our state will never obtain the revenue needed to properly fund public education.

This is the cold, hard, brutal reality of Nevada politics. Pundits discuss fundraising like it's a football game. And yes, playing this game is necessary to succeed in the broken system we now have. And no, not everyone who's ever been endorsed by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce is evil. It's just pitiful that real reform and sustainable growth never seem to be top priorities, and it doesn't seem like a strange coincidence that the moneyed corporate interests that donate the most always get the most out of state government.

If only Nevada students and teachers could play this game this well...

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