Taking questions from the audience during her recent Meet and Greet in Mesquite, Barbara Cegavske delved into issues she wants to tackle if she's elected to Nevada's new Fourth Congressional District seat.
"One of the things I'm very good at is answering my phone and my door is open to everybody," Cegavske replied when she was asked how she could best serve Mesquite. "The biggest thing is listening to whatever the issue is and understanding it. I thought I knew a lot about rural areas over my tenure but there are a lot of issues in every community. Every community is unique and has its own issues."
As an example, she praised the Mesquite Veterans Center because it had found a solution to transportation problems for veterans needing services in Las Vegas.
Referring to her tenure in the Nevada State Legislature, first in the Assembly for three terms and most recently as a State Senator, she commented that "I have the knowledge that I can take to Washington and I can be set to go right away."
"I have been a very independent voter in the House and in the Senate," she said when asked how independent she would be if elected. "I haven't always responded to the leadership and I haven't always responded to the Governor. I go with what I feel is right. I analyze every bill that's before me and actually read the bills. I was one of the few that actually read all the amendments that came up" in the last State Legislative session.
"I've never made a deal," she added about how she decides on which way to vote on legislation. "I vote for the issue. There isn't anything you're going to give me that's going to sway me either way. The lobbyists know that. I'm not one that anyone comes and asks for deals. They know that I look at a bill straight up and straight down."
Saying that issues shouldn't be bundled together in legislation, Cegavske commented, "that's one of the problems with the State. I think that's wrong. Horse-trading is not something that I support."
When following up on her initial comments about supporting a Constitutional amendment requiring the Federal government to maintain a balanced budget, Cegavske said, "You live within your means. Whatever you get in is what you spend. There should be no lines of credit. You shouldn't be borrowing money that you can't pay back."
"What the community can do for itself, it should. Don't try to control everything. The government shouldn't be everything to everybody," she added.
"I believe in 'sunsets' absolutely," Cegavske declared when she discussed government programs. "When you look at all the money the Federal government gives us with their qualifiers, with their stipulations, why not 'block grant' to the states. Why not give us as a State a block grant for education and let us decide how the education money should be
"We have programs in our State that should be eliminated. There are unions involved in some of this," and explained that they wouldn't allow some programs to be dissolved. "We know the communities can do much better. So let them do that."
When the subject of making states accountable for the money they receive from the Federal government came up, Cegavske used education as an example of what she would do if elected to Congress. "We want to make sure our kids in special education have their needs met. Find out from the parents if we're meeting the needs of their child. The majority of our kids aren't special needs."
She also explained that the reason for declining graduation rates should be examined and added that, "we don't give kids an incentive to stay in school. We don't give them the tools to learn a trade. We tell them everybody has to go to college."
She described an audit that the Legislature Education Committee, of which she's part of, commissioned. "The auditor was stunned." She explained that elementary schools teach to a set of standards. "When you get into middle school, there are very few standards taught. When you get to high school, there are no standards taught. There are no consequences for that."
She continued by saying that Republican politicians have "all tried to make changes" within the Department of Education. "We've met with resistance. When you have Democrats controlling both houses [of the Legislature], that's part of the problem. They vote it down."
She thinks changes will continue to be made in the Clark County School District (CCSD) under the direction of the current Superintendent Dwight Jones. She also spoke about the current arbitration between CCSD and its teachers' union. "There's a fight between the Union and the District. The Union wants all the benefits and all the pay. The District is saying they can't afford it and the arbitrator is saying 'you're right, you can't.' The Teachers' Union is going against that and saying 'we want our pay raises, we want everything, even though you'll have to lay off a hundred and some teachers. We don't care about that. We're fighting for the principle.' When they say they're for children, I don't think they're for children."
When the questioning turned to immigration, Cegavske said "we have laws that tell you how to become a legal citizen and you need to follow the law. We have laws in the United States and we need to make sure they are enforced."
She was asked about her stance on government subsidies for alternative energy projects. "I think we've made some huge mistakes with the money that's been given" to companies like Solyndra, Cegavske commented. "But the way it's been done is entirely wrong. They haven't done it in a way that's prudent with taxpayers' dollars. They all made money. But as taxpayers, we lost. But giving these subsidies to individuals that are friends because they give money, is absolutely wrong."
Cegavske reiterated that her number one priority if she were elected to Congress would be to "balance the budget."
Cegavske is running in the Republican primary election on June 12 for Nevada 4th Congressional District.