Cut from the top

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By The Staff

We’re not infatuated with tax increases, but we feel compelled to consider the future based on today’s realities. And one of the realities the next governor will face is a serious shortage of money.

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about this — especially in a city like Las Vegas where state-supported jobs are prevalent — not the least of which is school funding. A little sidestep last summer illustrates the looming severity of the situation.

Late last summer, after the East and West school districts had successfully put their respective budgets to bed for the upcoming 2010-11 school year, a memo came down from the state directing the districts to cut 3.2 percent out of their budgets. That would have translated to $486,000 chopped from the East budget and $420,000 from West’s budget, according to the districts’ superintendents. But before the directive could be imposed, the governor intervened, not with a solution but with a postponement — any cuts, he decided, could wait a while. That is, until next year, when it will be the new governor’s burden to bear.

Consequently, gubernatorial aspirants Diane Denish or Susana Martinez will be baptized by fire in 2011. But you can’t tell by their rhetoric.

Both candidates, being in campaign mode, have pledged not to raise taxes as governor. We are, of course, skeptical that they’ll be able to honor that pledge, but we’re fairly confident they’ll try. So, if they’re serious about keeping schools in the black without additional taxes, we have a suggestion:

Cut at the administrative level. Start from the top, at the state Public Education Department, and work your way down to the local district administration. Do everything possible to avoid letting the cuts be felt in the classroom, or in extracurricular activities. That is, after all, where the true mission of public education lies.

In an attempt to regulate the medicinal use of marijuana, the state created a complicated and confusing set of rules. No one knows that better than Las Vegas resident Robert Jones, who relies on cannabis for relief from cancer and myriad other health problems. Despite his best efforts to weave his way through a legal maze to keep his “prescription” filled, his licensed caregiver, John Emerick, got busted for not doing everything just right.

Maybe police officers aren’t to blame for this; it is, after all, their job to enforce the law, not matter how convoluted it may be. Instead, maybe it’s the law that isn’t right.