Gibbons happy with Legislative results | NevadaAppeal.com

Gibbons happy with Legislative results

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons talks with state Budget Director Andrew Clinger early Tuesday morning, after the Legislature failed to meet its final deadline. Gibbons called a brief special session to deal with several education bills that weren't finalized before 1 a.m. Cathleen Allison/ nevada appeal

Gov. Jim Gibbons said Wednesday he is pleased with the results from the 2007 Legislature.

“I got just about everything I asked for in my State of the State speech,” he said at a roundtable post-mortem with reporters. “We worked very closely with legislators, and we were very successful.”

He said the budgets and programs approved will serve the people of Nevada well over the next two years.

“And we solved those problems without raising taxes,” he said.

At the top of the list, he said, are the added funding and new programs in public education, including a record $2.67 billion K-12 budget, the creation of empowerment schools, incentive programs for teachers and expansion of programs for at-risk students, English-language learners and special- education students.

Gibbons said his highest hopes are for the creation of Empowerment Schools. He said similar programs have shown great improvement in student achievement in other states and that empowerment may change the way Nevada funds education.

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“Just to throw more money at it is not the answer,” he said.

Gibbons said the transportation package may not provide everything needed for Nevada road construction over the next decade, but that it does provide about everything the Department of Transportation can actually contract for between now and the 2009 session when, he said, the subject will be taken up again.

And again, he said, the package was done without raising taxes.

He cited tougher new rules for dealing with sex offenders, including a greatly expanded DNA registry and GPS tracking for those most likely to re-offend. He said lawmakers approved legislation to give homeowners rights and fair treatment when government wants to condemn their land. And, he said, the state began trying to take care of its unfunded $3.8 billion liability to provide health benefits to state retirees.

He said the Nevada ChalleNGe, National Guard training program for at-risk youth, was also approved. He described that as one of the most successful alternative education programs in the nation.

He also pointed to the $17 million more put into anti-methamphetamine programs and enforcement in the budget.

Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden said programs for children and adults with mental health issues also got more money this session.

Gibbons agreed there are a number of tax and fee increases in the budget, but said they are in situations where the people who are going to pay support the increases – such as Nye County where voters already said they would pay more to add police and firemen.

Finally, he said, the 2007 session proved that the Education First constitutional amendment he pushed through after the 2003 Legislature works.

Lawmakers said repeatedly during session that Education First was causing roadblocks and delays in getting things done.

“They can talk all they want but the mechanics of it required education be funded first, and it worked,” he said, pointing out that the Distributive School Account increases 18 percent this coming biennium.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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