Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 | 2 a.m.
For an idea of why Nevadans should feel good about voting for Ballot Question 1, which would set the stage to reform Nevada’s higher education oversight structure, take a look at who’s supporting it and who’s opposing it.
The formal support group, “Yes on 1,” includes groups that don’t often agree on much of anything: Democratic and Republican lawmakers, mayors of large Southern Nevada cities and rural Northern Nevada communities, and business and labor groups. Question 1 is even endorsed by both the Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is remarkable given the two newspapers’ very distinct editorial stances.
Here’s a look at some of the individuals and organizations supporting Question 1.
• Political leaders: North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, Henderson Mayor Debra March, Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford, and West Wendover Mayor Daniel Corona.
It’s also worth noting that in the two votes by the Legislature to put Ballot Question 1 before voters, lawmakers approved the measure by overwhelming margins: 38-4 in the Assembly and 18-2 in the state Senate in 2017, and 36-5 in the Assembly and 20-0 in the state Senate in 2019.
• Business groups: the Nevada Mining Association, Vegas Chamber, the Latin Chamber, the Las Vegas Asian Chamber, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada in Reno, and the Nevada division of the National Federation of Independent Business.
• Labor organizations: SEIU Local 1107, Nevada AFL-CIO, Culinary Workers Union Local 226, the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, and the Professional Firefighters of Nevada.
• Educational leaders and organizations: The Clark County Education Association, and past presidents of several of the state’s colleges, including Dr. John Gwaltney, former president of Truckee Meadows Community College; Dr. Carol Lucey, former president of Western Nevada College; and Chet Burton, former president of Western Nevada College and chief financial officer of NSHE.
When such a diverse group coalesces behind a ballot question, you know there’s something to it.
And who’s opposing the question?
Well, first of all, know that there’s no formal opposition group.
But here’s what is even more telling: The only voices opposing the question are coming from the Nevada Board of Regents — the very board that would be reformed under the measure. In other words, the only people who are pushing to maintain the status quo are the ones with a personal, vested interest in protecting it.
That speaks volumes about the importance of passing Question 1, which would allow state lawmakers to restructure the highly problematic Board of Regents and the umbrella administrative agency for the state’s universities and colleges, the Nevada System of Higher Education. The ballot question is a keystone for this reform, as it would remove the Board of Regents from the state constitution and end its status as essentially a separate branch of government.
Nevada’s structure is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and in this case unique isn’t good. In our setup, the regents and NSHE have roles