Economy & Jobs
One of the most important things government can do is stay out of the way of businesses as the are built, grow, and create jobs. During his first term, Ben has focused on doing just that. He has fought successfully against massive business tax increases like Senate Democrats’ proposed payroll tax expansion in 2013. He also championed regulation reform, including greater transparency for agencies that regulate businesses (2013 – Senate Bill 370). Additionally, Ben was the primary sponsor of key reforms to create more jobs in our hardest hit industry, construction, by fixing our broken construction defect law (2013 – Senate Bill 161) and reforming prevailing wage to create more jobs with the same amount of public resources (2013 – Senate Bill 146). Ben also sponsored legislation in 2011 giving Nevada businesses a tax break against their payroll tax when hiring people off the unemployment rolls (2011 – Senate Bill 333).
With two children in second grade in the Washoe County School District and two more entering the district in next school year, Ben understands parents’ concerns about the future of our education system. He believes that improving our education system will require continued support for critical education reforms that ensure we get the most out of our existing resources. To that end, Ben sponsored and passed legislation in 2011 that created an alternate route to teacher licensure, making it easier for business professionals to become teachers in our schools (2011 – Senate Bill 315). Ben is also a strong supporter of charter schools and giving parents more choices when it comes to their child’s education. During the 2013 Legislative Session, Ben worked diligently to ensure charter schools received access to funding for capital infrastructure, which is one of the biggest barriers to the growth of charter schools in Nevada. Ben also sponsored legislation in 2013 that would have freed K-12 and Higher Education from the restrictions of prevailing wage requirements and allowing them to operate in the free market to get more out of their limited capital construction budgets. Along with critical reforms, Ben believes that funding for education is important, but it must be the right funding. Putting money into a broken system that cannot be tracked would be the wrong thing for Nevada. As such, Ben supports increases in targeted, programmatic funding that can be tracked and linked back to student success to ensure taxpayers are getting the return on investment they deserve.
Throughout his first term in the Senate, Ben has worked to serve his constituents with the level of dignity and honor that befits the office, knowing that only by taking his position in the Senate seriously will he be able to effectively meet their needs. While this is an ever-evolving process, so far he has been successful. In a survey conducted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal following the 2011 Legislative Session, Ben was recognized as the “best freshman” in the Senate, and in 2012 he was elected by his Republican colleagues to serve as the Assistant Minority Leader for 2013 Legislative Session. In his first two sessions, Ben has become the Senate Republicans’ point person on the Senate Finance Committee and the state budget, working regularly with the Governor’s office on critical issues throughout the legislative sessions and the interim. Throughout his first term, Ben has built a reputation as a legislator willing to stand up for what he believes is right, even when it requires standing alone.
Government’s Role & Budget
Preserving government’s limited role in the lives of Nevadans is one of the primary reasons Ben is running for re-election. He believes that individuals should be given every opportunity to make their own decisions about what’s best for themselves and their families. In order to preserve these liberties, government must not grow beyond its need to preserve a stable society, and Ben weighs this balance when considering legislation. As a two-term member of the Senate Finance Committee, Ben reviews all state government spending for efficiency and accountability, with a goal of return on investment for each taxpayer dollar. His record sponsoring bills shows this strong bent toward limited government and governmental accountability. First and foremost, Ben has twice sponsored a bill revising the state’s spending cap to put teeth into an outdated law and help ensure the Nevada state government lives within its means (2011 – Senate Bill 250 & 2013 – Senate Bill 372). This reform would help ensure Nevada’s spending does not grow unnecessarily as the economy recovers from the recession. And while significant reforms like that are needed, it’s critical for legislators to remember that government must be responsive to the citizens. To that end, Ben does not shy away from advocating for more services for those who really need them. Ben has been a strong advocate for autism and disability services in Nevada, and strongly believes that government must remain lean so that it can afford to help take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. Ben has also sponsored several pieces of legislation directly to address constituents’ concerns, including a nuisance bear problem in Incline Village (2013 – Senate Bill 371) and ensuring an opportunity for developmentally disabled adults to enjoy a day of free fishing (2013 – Senate Bill 181).
Throughout his first term in the Nevada State Senate, and as a member of the Senate Revenue & Economic Development Committee in 2013, Ben has advocated for maintaining a low tax burden on Nevada families and businesses. Ben was a vocal opponent of the margins tax proposal Democrats proposed in 2011, and remains a strong opponent of the ballot initiative being pushed by big labor that will go to the voters in 2014. Additionally, Ben opposed and helped kill the Democrats proposal expand the payroll tax on businesses in 2013, which would have sucked hundreds of millions of dollars out of the private sector economy. Also in 2013, Ben was a vocal opponent of the Democratic Speaker’s proposed family fun tax, which would have charged an 8% recreation tax on movie tickets and bowling alleys, among almost everything else Nevadans do with their families. Amidst that opposition to massive new tax increases, Ben has supported Governor Sandoval and his budgets in each of the last two sessions, which fund state government at a level that is reasonable to meet the needs of Nevada’s citizens.