Progressive coalition pushes back against Lombardo’s message of “Nevada Way”
A coalition of progressives said Gov. Joe Lombardo’s “Nevada Way” plan expressed during his State of the State address does not fully represent the state and fails to address housing affordability, environmental threats from lithium mining, improved safety for educators and protections for Indigenous land and transgender rights.
Laura Martin, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) Action, said Lombardo’s plans for the coming biennium work for a “small percentage of people at the top” and not struggling Nevadans.
The PLAN Progressive State of the State address Friday concluded with the speakers harmonizing a song about high rents and housing affordability.
“I was going to get my own place, but the rent is too high,” they sang. “Now I’m sleeping on a couch and you know why – why man – because the rent is too high.”
Martin said Lombardo, who only briefly touched on housing issues in his recent State of the State address, should “level the playing field between tenants and landlords” as rents increase, wages stagnate and evictions continue to swiftly proceed in Nevada.
During the PLAN address, Carlos Padilla, a 29-year-Culinary Union pastry baker at the Treasure Island Casino, said his landlord raised his rent by $400 and in March it will go up another $200, reaching $1,800. When Padilla asked his landlord about it, he said the landlord laughed at him and told him it was not illegal in the state of Nevada to “raise the rent as high as they did.”
“I had to have a conversation with my family,” he said. “We sat at the table … talking about how we were going to budget … how we were going to spend our money for either food on the table or rent.”
Sy Bernabei, executive director of the nonprofit organization Gender Justice, spoke about policy needs for the transgender community, such as hate crime bills, HIV modernization, access to health care while incarcerated and affirming health care.
Eztli Amaya, an environmental justice organizer, spoke against the mining of lithium-ion for electric cars on sacred Indigenous land where ancestral remains lie.
Erica Nunagray from the Nevada State Education Association said leaders should focus on teacher shortages that contribute to inadequacies in learning. She said it’s “time for 20,” a reference to increasing pay for support staff to at least $20 an hour, reducing class sizes to 20 students and raising teacher pay by 20 percent.
Nunagray also spoke about the Respect Educators Act, a proposal this session to “give educators the tools and resources to deal with students with disruptive or violent behavior.”
There was also a call for dignity for inmates held by the Nevada Department of Corrections. Rayshaun, a speaker who spent 14 years behind bars and declined to provide his last name, said someone needs to be held accountable for the conditions of Nevada prisons.
“It was hell on earth,” he said.
Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2023 Legislature. Sign up for the newsletter here.