Secrets of the Job Hunt


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nevada Unemployment Could Benefit from Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative

Local officials hope that a new initiative making all budget spending meetings involving taxpayer funds open to the public would eventually help reduce Nevada unemployment.

Gov. Jim Gibbons recently launched the Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative, or Open Public Employee Negotiations. The petition would amend the Nevada Revised Statutes to include all collective bargaining agreement negotiations and meetings in the state's Open Meeting Law.

"Just like the State of Nevada, local governments and school districts are struggling to reduce expenditures," Gibbons said, "It is disappointing to see unions forcing local governments to lay off employees rather than accepting some form of salary reduction to save jobs. Nevada needs to keep as many people working as possible, and the voters of Nevada will pass this initiative to save jobs."

The current state law exempts collective bargaining negotiations from the Open Meeting Law. At the same time, between 70 percent and 80 percent of a local government or school district budget is spent on personnel, but that spending is hidden from public view.

Aside from these union negotiations, no other spending of public funds is allowed to be done outside of an open public meeting. Gibbons has tried twice before to change the law but has been refused by the Nevada Legislature both times.

"Transparency and accountability in government are essential to keep the public trust," Gibbons said. "We must open up all negotiations and meetings where public funds are allocated, especially during these difficult economic times where every penny counts. These are public funds, tax money, we're talking about and the people have a right to know how their money is spent."

The Committee for the Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative has until November 9 to gather the 97,002 signatures needed to place the petition in front of the Legislature during 2011.

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