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Asheesh Dewan is a Democratic candidate for governor. We sent a questionnaire to all candidates. Here are his responses:
Question: Education in Nevada is ranked dead last or close to it. What does it need to improve?
There is a lot of talk about education in this election cycle. Each of the candidates seem to converge on a similar theme. That we need more money in education either from taxes or changes in the funding formulas. But this intense focus on funding distracts from the deeper needs inherent in the system.
Anybody can spend money. There is no talent or innovation in this. A child can do this.
What can you do with what you already have? This takes more foresight, understanding, and thought.
As we move closer to the artificial intelligence (AI) transformation, the traditional education process seems more and more antiquated and obsolete. We need to prepare our children for the new age that is coming. We need to engage this generation’s attention span, and prepare them for success in the new economy.
The rising cost of adulthood and higher education has created a transition phase from the end of high school until they are in their 30’s. The high costs with low wages is creating a ‘second adolescence’ and is delaying key life events such as marriage, children, or buying a home. This will only deepen the income disparity.
Competency based curriculums are cheaper and cater to the child’s abilities. Depending upon their interests, they can move along towards a career that they are suited for and enjoy. When our children stay in school longer and accumulate more competencies, more job options and possibilities open for them. With the cost savings, teacher income and retention may increase as well.
We should encourage training towards jobs that are currently felt to be more insulated from automation. Such jobs include robotics and engineering, teacher education, nutrition services, computer analyst, medical professionals, and financial auditors - to name a few.
If children are able to enter into the labor force with the skill sets that are desired in the new economy, then the income disparity will be less in our state. The need for government to intervene becomes less, and perhaps discussion of universal basic income may not be needed. Education is the key to success in this state but it will not be achieved by throwing more money into a Carnegie unit system that is no longer valid for the new economy that is forthcoming.
We need to prepare our children for an uncertain future. I am a parent with children in school.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world – Nelson Mandela
Eager minds hungry for knowledge are one of society’s and this state’s greatest resources. For this reason, higher education should be accessible and the delivery of it should be effective.
Take UNLV for example, understanding that this is a rough model of a concept:
UNLV also holds a 4 year graduation rate as of 2009 of 12.9%. ( 5 year graduation rate improves to 30.3%) So this would portend 791 undergraduate students would graduate in 4 years and 1,857 in 5 years. This would mean that 4,272 students would be taking on a debt, borrowing from family or working to learn with nothing to show for it except bills while UNLV’s endowment increased $35 million between 2013-2016. This is a 24% increase.
The risk of the loan and time is borne by the student. For its $155 million investment, the state gets 791 people a year entering the workforce after 4 years of college with an average salary of $46,700.
What if the University was to take on the risk.
What if the state was only going to reimburse the university for those students that actually GRADUATE.
UNLV has an 83% acceptance rate. But they are giving 70% of those students nothing in return in 5 years except loans, debt, and lost potential. So if the University was to be paid only for those that graduated, they would be more selective in whom they accepted and they would work harder to keep those students enrolled, focused, and on track towards graduation .
An example of state appropriations per student for the university may look something akin to this:
For the students, they would not be responsible for any tuition WHILE in school. Once they graduated, they would then repay the cost of the education at 0% interest by paying 4% of their yearly income to the university if they remain in Nevada and 8% if they settle out of the state after graduating. Accommodations for graduate school are withstanding.
Thus, when you are a student and have no money, you would have no financial stress, and when you were earning, you would be able to pay it back. I believe the 4 year graduation rate will increase by up to 18% as less people will have to work to go to school. It would also encourage retention by the state of educated talent, its greatest resource. If the numbers play out, I would like to make it free for those that work in Nevada or study in areas of need, like teacher education.
The decrease in funds utilized at the University level may possibly be diverted to the Community College and State College infrastructure and operations to handle the inevitable higher demand. We are worried about the affordability of college and the quality of that education.
Question: Mental health is becoming a growing problem in the state. To fix it would require a lot of money. Where would that money come from?
My grandfather, Dr. Vidya Sagar, is considered to be the father of Indian psychiatry. My family built and runs a charitable psychiatric and neurosurgical hospital in India. How we deliver mental health care to those in need over there would have to differ from the realities and economies over here.
We can create the opportunity to have pharmaceutical companies share in the risk of treatment, and get rewarded for good outcomes. For example say a pharmaceutical company makes a drug for depression. The company would be allowed to have their own medical staff, and use their own medications. If certain benchmarks are obtained, then the state would reimburse the company for that outcome. If the treatment program and drug was a failure, then the company receives no payment for the medicine, time or staff used for the care of that patient. To make this happen, special legislation would need to be created here in Nevada. This legislation would allow us to stop throwing healthcare dollars towards bad outcomes, and only towards positive results.
Question: Housing costs are going up in Reno and Las Vegas, and both metropolitan areas are having a difficult time providing affordable homes or apartments to the growing numbers of people moving there. How do you propose increasing investment in affordable housing?
It is forecasted that in the next 15 years, six out of ten new households will be renting instead of owning. The number of of the renter households that is paying more than half of their income on rent would rise from 11.8 million in 2010 to 14.8 million nationwide.
To help alleviate this upcoming problem, there are a number of things that we can do to encourage new home ownership and preserve existing ownership.
1. Toughen laws and prosecute institutions and people involved in fraudulent, predatory, lending and title practices more vigorously.
2. Create a Shared Equity program. Either the state or a non profit program sponsor would share the equity in the house, and share in the profit when the house is sold. That profit can be retained as a subsidy for the next buyer or used for other homes.
3. Create Individual Development Accounts (IDA) to incentive saving by the person towards a long term asset. Savings can be matched by foundations, religious institutions, corporations or the government. The money from the IDA can be used as the down payment and converted into shared equity for the matching institution.
Question: Was it a good idea for Las Vegas to invest $750 million in room taxes to build a stadium for a professional football team? If not, why not? If so, how do you think it will benefit Nevada?
The Raider stadium has been funded and it appears that it is moving forward. Aside from the rest of America snickering at us for making the worst deal in stadium history, this is an example of influence and money: catering to the needs of a few at the expense of many. The $750m bond will be paid from a 0.88% increase in room tax over the next 30 years. And this works out marvelously – unless there is a drop in room utilization. Hotel occupancy in 1997, pre-recession, was 90.4% and in 2002 it had dropped to 84%. The question then comes – will there be another recession over the next 30 years?
Hamilton County in Ohio had to sell a public hospital to pay for the shortfall in sales tax to fund their stadium. But everything in life is about risk versus benefit. So what are the benefits of the stadium, as proposed by the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee.
The stadium would have a total economic impact of $620m. It would create 5,982 jobs with an average salary of $38,615, a salary that is 20% less than the current average salary in Las Vegas, which is currently $48,045. And that is if we can get 43 events a year into the stadium.
I strongly propose and will push for a free-standing Children’s Hospital to be built in Nevada. Currently, Nevada is ranked number 1 as the worst state for children’s healthcare. A hospital would be used more than 43 times a year and could be built for half the cost of the stadiums PUBLIC funding, about $350m. Remember the stadium is a $2 billion project. While there are children’s hospitals in local hospitals around the state, they lack the research dollars and integration of care that a free-standing institution would bring. Looking at the economic impact of a free-standing and independent children’s hospital and borrowing from numbers from the Dallas Forth Worth area - a comparison to the stadium can be made.
Days in Use
This story repeats itself in Akron, Ohio : Economic impact of $ 1 billion with 4,619 jobs created with an average salary of $77,289.
So which one serves the public the best? And at what risk? If you follow the money, you will see Adam Laxalt has recived $150,000 combined from Station Casino and Golden Entertainment. Steve Sisolak has received $170,000 from MGM Resort properties, Caesars Entertainment and Golden Entertainment. Chris G (who did vote against the stadium twice) received $20,000 from Caesars Entertainment and South Point Hotel. Is the stadium in their donor’s best interest or yours? I am you.
The stadium is beautiful, like a Taj Mahal in the desert. But you must remember - The Taj Mahal is a tomb.
Question: Does Nevada need to enact any laws related to background checks to obtain a weapon in the state?
If you do not control the enemy, the enemy will control you – Miyamoto Musashi
This is currently a decisive issue. Society’s needs and pains are on one side and constitutional rights are on the other. We live in a connected world, but we are not using the information available to us to help prevent tragedies that have become more common than we wish them to be.
Common ideas being discussed by others include that at the time of purchase of the gun:
While most of that seems like common sense, incredulously it is not. The community approach is wrought with issues. If the Town of Henderson were to raise the age to buy a gun to 22, people could just go to Las Vegas and buy a gun there. As well-meaning as it is, it does not really work well. And after a person purchases a gun in year 1, situations in future years could change where that person could be considered ineligible to buy any new guns but would still have the initial guns that were purchased.
I would like to propose that all guns require a NRA Stamp.
N – Nevada
R – Registration
A – Armory
This would be just like you register your car every year. You would have to register your armory and pay the registration fee. For example, it could look like this:
10 bullet mag
20 bullet mag
40 bullet mag
There would also need to be a statewide mandatory reporting on certain parameters. Just as in child abuse where teachers, nurses, pediatrician, and other health care providers are mandated to report, so would it be to the Nevada Registration Armory (NRA). Things such as:
First Aid for injuries from a fight or weapon wound
Ideations of harming others or self
Assault and Battery
Crimes involving weapons
Restraining order violations
These are a few examples. This could either raise the registration fee for the future or outright ban and confiscate any weapon. You could even require proof of homeowners or renters insurance to renew your registration.
Now we will have an annual assessment with a deeper and more encompassing background check. The shooter in the Mandalay Bay tragedy would have had to pay a lot more to keep his hobby, and perhaps this would have limited the scope of his armory.
We would be monitoring the right to bear arms, but in a real-time setting with probability of risk escalating towards confiscation of weapons where appropriate. We are all concerned about the misuse of guns by people.