In trying to balance the budget of Nevada it appears to me that cutting spending costs in education is the wrong road to travel. Untrained and under educated people find it almost impossible to find employment, except, perhaps careers at fast food establishments at minimum wage.
When I was a teenager in the 1940s finding a job was rather easy, if you were willing to do farm labor. Back then manufacturing jobs were plentiful spurred by World War II. Times were changing. Women could even find jobs outside the home in defense plants. The fairer sex additionally were entering into a new world which permitted them to pursue traditional professional employment in medicine, law, engineering and the like.
When World War II ended a new concept emerged allowing GIs access to higher education by means of the GI bill. Millions of us, otherwise unable to afford a college education, were suddenly enabled to pursue and achieve college degrees in all kinds of disciplines. The employment doors opened up to a wider range of Americans equipped to compete in the job markets.
It was a sociological evolution on many fronts in American life. Adaptation of nuclear power to peaceful energy uses were pursued. Computer technology became common place in the home with the advent of the desktop computer and useful software for the ordinary personâs use in school, business and the home. Man traveled into space, walking on the moon. The Internet came into ordinary life allowing anyone to communicate with anyone else on the planet.
All those innovations came about as a product of a better educated citizenry in the United States. Finally, the United States became the undisputed super power of the globe. America was leaning forward.
Education played a significant role in all those innovations. But now, Nevada, is on a path to reverse that progress. The world has become global. Competition has become more intense. As the Boy Scouts have said, âThe world belongs to those who prepare for it.â It does not appear that Nevada wants to prepare for it.
John Kao, an innovation expert, says, "The United States is in danger of becoming a nation of innovation haves and have-nots."
Nevada clearly would fall into the category of an âinnovation have-not.â
Kao also said:
âWe’ve learned that innovation has been the key to our dramatic economic growth and rising standards of living, as Steven Johnson showed us earlier. There’s no question of its importance.â
ââ¦innovation comes in many varieties â from the private sector and the public sector, from businesses and universities.â
ââ¦innovation isn’t just about science and technologyâ¦ it’s about inventions in business and business processes. And these kinds of innovation really come out of a fertile private sector. We saw the perfect example of that in Google.â
ââ¦the fastest growing economies in the world today – China, South Korea – are using government to promote innovation. In industry after industry, they’re establishing commanding leads because of the government policy.â
ââ¦we need both government and the private sector to foster innovation.â
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 Nevada spent 6.7 percent of its total state expenditures on higher education. This ranked far below the national average of 10.1 percent. In comparison, Colorado spent 8.3 percent of total expenditures on higher education; neighboring Utah spent 10.1 percent.
In 2007, Nevada ranked 48th in per capita state and local government expenditures on higher education at $490 per resident. Wyoming spent nearly twice as much at $973 per resident and Utah spent $896. Every other Western state ranked above Nevada.
âRetraining our workforce for the jobs of the future depends on a strong system of higher education. Governor Sandoval is eliminating that option, and cutting off the possibility of a robust economic recovery or long-term economic diversification as a result,â wrote Mike Trask in U.S. News Las Vegas.
Other Republican Governors see education differently than Governor Brian Sandoval. Republican governors of Virginia, Kansas, New Jersey, and Nebraska view higher education as the key to turning their stateâs lagging economies around. They are resisting cuts to higher education, and some are even proposing to increase funds, despite budget shortfalls.
Conservative Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell recently announced a $50 million investment in higher education, aimed at increasing the percentage of Virginians with higher education credentials from 42 to 55 percent in the next 15 years. McDonnell cites:
Â· For every $1 the state spends on higher education, it generates $13 in GDP
Â· For every $1 the state spends on higher education it generates $1.39 in state revenue
Â· Higher education accounts for more than 144,000 jobs and $9.5 billion in spending
Sadly, we are stuck with Governor Sandoval, thanks to Nevadaâs voters. One lesson to learn is to avoid electing any politician who promises not to raise taxes. Those who make that promise cuts-off that potential avenue of fulfilling their obligation to their constituents, even when it is necessary. Remember, we get what we vote for.