June 8, 2019

By Michael Schaus NPRI

In the last 120-plus days, one thing has become abundantly clear in Carson City: The so-called “special interests” controlling the legislature aren’t working for big corporate entities or shadowy activist organizations.

In fact, the “special interests” with the most pull in Carson City are being funded by you — whether you like it or not.

Nevada’s 2019 legislative session was, by all accounts, a session dominated by tax-funded agencies, government lobbyists and government-sector unions.

Virtually every major piece of legislation saw tax-funded organizations lobbying against the interests of the very taxpayers who fund them. Government unions, lobbyists and agency representatives flooded Carson City to make sure their agenda was prioritized over that of regular Nevadans.

This perversion of the democratic process is a bipartisan affair, and it had a tangible impact on what laws ultimately made it to the governor’s desk. Throughout the session, regardless of the issue, the single biggest factor determining whether a bill lived or died was the government and/or union veto.

Are you a Democrat who believes public schools need more funding? Too bad. Unions demanded, and received, the passage of AB190, which will require public schools to pay union construction workers an average wage rate that is 62 percent above market rates. This excess will take nearly $25 million directly out of the classroom over the next two years, according to the school districts’ own fiscal analysis.

Perhaps the best example of how blatantly the Legislature serves the needs of government over the people were the attacks on the Opportunity Scholarship program. Assembly Majority Leader Jason Frierson successfully passed AB458, which freezes funding for the program at existing levels, rather than allowing it to increase 10 percent per year as originally intended. Frierson described that annual increase as “unsustainable,” even though public schools will receive roughly $5 billion this year — an amount that dwarfs the mere $600,000 scheduled increase to Opportunity Scholarships.

Of course, Frierson doesn’t actually think such a paltry amount is a serious budgetary concern. Instead, AB458 reflects the wishes of the public school establishment, which fears any measure that would introduce competition or accountability into the system, no matter how small.

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