Obama is a liberal Democrat who faced both a House and Senate with Republican majorities.
Sandoval is a Republican who stood before an Assembly and a state Senate with Republican majorities, flanked by five statewide constitutional office holders who are all Republicans.
One would expect a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon between the two speeches, right?
“I submit to you this evening that an education system for this century requires bold new ideas to meet the reality of our time,” Sandoval pronounced. “I am asking the Legislature to join me in beginning the work of comprehensive modernization of our education system to meet the needs of today’s students and the new Nevada.”
He proposed spending more money on pre-school and all-day kindergarten, saying, “These two efforts provide a foundation for the future success of all our children.”
For his part, Obama said, “And in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to up our game. We need to do more. By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education — two in three. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s sure not smart for our future. That’s why I’m sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.”
Obama wants to raise taxes by $320 billion over the next decade by raising the capital gains taxes, fees on big banks and other taxes to pay for that free community college, as well as universal childcare and assorted tax breaks for the middle class, most tied to childcare and education.
Obama has promised to use a pen and phone to act on his own if the duly elected Congress doesn’t agree to his agenda.
Sandoval wants to raise taxes and fees by $1.2 billion over the next two years for the general fund with nearly $900 million of that going to an assortment of education initiatives.
Some of the money would be raised by making a package of temporary taxes, which the governor twice promised to sunset, permanent. He also proposed creating a graduated business license fee based on gross receipts, which is very similar to a tax the voters rejected by nearly 80 percent in November. He even called for raising the modified business tax on mining companies’ payrolls from 1.17 percent to 2 percent, though voters have twice voted in the past two years to reject higher mining taxes.
To build schools to house all those students he proposed allowing school districts to rollover bond issues beyond what the voters agreed to.
He also called for creating a state run “Achievement School District” that would operate some of the state’s poorest performing schools no matter where they lie in the state geographically.
“I have asked former Washoe County Superintendent Pedro Martinez to help with this initiative as a Superintendent in Residence with the Nevada Department of Education,” the governor said in his speech. “Pedro is here tonight, and I thank him for his leadership on this critical issue.”
He did not deign to mention that “Pedro” was fired by the duly elected Washoe County School District board of trustees.
Sandoval even called for appointing school boards instead of having them elected by the voters.
“Although well intended, some of these boards have become disconnected from their communities,” said the elected governor. “I will therefore support legislation to provide for the appointment of members of local school boards.”
Obama and Sandoval both want us to dig deeper into our pockets to hand over money to benefit children, only Sandoval wants to dig twice as deep.
Obama’s $320 billion in taxes over the next decade amounts to $101 per capita per year.
Sandoval’s taxes and fees of $1.2 billion over the next two years comes out to $222 per capita per year.
So, which one is the tax-and-spend Democrat? And which one is the frugal small-government Republican?
Neither seemed too concerned about what the voters had to say.
A version of this column appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.