PLAN outlines what it wants from Joe Lombardo and Nevada lawmakers
On the eve of the 2023 Nevada legislative session, progressive activists are calling on Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo to increase teacher pay, preserve public money for public schools, abandon his plans to wipe out recently-enacted criminal justice reforms, and represent all Nevadans as they struggle with inflation and the high cost of housing.
“The so-called ‘Nevada Way’ has worked for a small percentage of Nevadans already at the top while drowning out those at the bottom,” Laura Martin, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), said of Lombardo’s leadership mantra during a 20-minute recorded video released Friday afternoon.
Martin said Lombardo’s campaign, funded in large part by billionaire Robert Bigelow, who spent nearly $50 million supporting Republicans, especially Lombardo, “is beholden to corporate interests. The priorities he has set forth so far, would further drive Nevadans’ lives into the hands of corporations and billionaires.”
Progressives vowed to fight Lombardo’s education plan, which Martin said “consists of taking money from our underfunded public schools, to outsource education to private schools and charter schools through a voucher scheme.”
Lombardo’s budget proposed $50 million in funding for Opportunity Scholarships, which help pay private school tuition.
Erica Nungaray, an educator and official of the Nevada State Education Association, the statewide union representing teachers, said thousands of positions remain vacant statewide that result in students arriving late to school, and teachers being spread too thin.
The NSEA is calling on lawmakers to pass ‘Time for 20’, an initiative that would raise teachers salaries by 20%, pay support staff at least $20 an hour, and limit class size to 20 pupils.
Lombardo said he’ll increase pay for all state workers by 8% in the next fiscal year, followed by a 4% raise the following year. He also suggested providing stipends and tuition to student teachers.
Nungaray also asked legislators to pass the Respect Educators Act, a measure she says would ensure “real accountability” for acts of violence perpetrated against educators.
Progressives bemoaned Nevada’s rapid eviction process and advocated for ‘neighborhood stabilization’ laws to prevent corporate landlords from unreasonable rent increases.
Progressives alleged Nevada regulators have allowed the mining industry to “sacrifice communities to power electric cars.” The mining of lithium, a component of electric car batteries, is at the heart of federal lawsuits involving two proposed Nevada mines.
“While there is without a doubt a need to address the climate crisis, there needs to be accountability for mines, investments in public transportation, and sustainable growth, not urban sprawl,” Martin said.
PLAN environmental justice organizer Eztli Amaya noted Nevadans “are guests” on ancient indigenous lands that have been subjected to mining. She called for increased oversight of the industry, which she said has “…avoided accountability for far too long, leaving indigenous communities to deal with these consequences whether it’s from polluting waters and land or desecrating sacred sites.”
Amaya also called on lawmakers to pass legislation protecting outdoor workers, who she says are subjected to heat islands, areas with an abundance of heat-absorbing pavement but a lack of shade.
Progressives called on lawmakers to ensure accountability in Nevada’s prisons, which have been plagued by complaints of understaffing and inhumane treatment.
The activists are also calling on lawmakers to protect abortion rights in Nevada, which are already codified and were not affected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year that abortion is not a constitutionally-protected right.
The Nevada Legislature meets for four months every two years in Carson City. The 2023 session convenes Monday.