My fellow Nevadans, it is my duty as governor to report this evening that the state of our state is fragile, and as challenging as any period in our 139-year history.
Directly ahead of us are two roads to the future. Tonight is the time for choosing our path. One choice may be easy to make, but hard to endure. It is a road that is short-sighted and paved with irresponsibility. The legacy of once again running from our duty as leaders will produce a devastating effect on every single Nevadan.
Thankfully, there is another road. A road that will meet the needs of a rapidly growing state, and one that will put Nevada on course to a brighter future.
However grim our financial situation is today, it would be far worse if it were not for the steps we have already taken. We started with a fundamental review, a top to bottom review of every agency, program, position and dollar. That process gave us the flexibility to reallocate millions of dollars to areas of high priority such as education, health care and public safety.
We took bold steps to privatize government services, privatizing the state workers compensation system. This resulted in nearly 800 positions being eliminated from state government and relieved Nevada of a $2 billion liability.
Fellow Nevadans, we have been innovative in our savings, and responsible in our cuts. As governor, I believe I have been a careful steward of the taxpayers' dollars.
However, if I had to build this budget on only our existing revenue, I could not live with myself, and I don't know anyone who could. The time has come to say, "enough."
Now is the time for courage. It is up to us to face our challenges, and face them we will.
Therefore, the budget I am presenting tonight is balanced, fair and has been built to meet the needs of Nevada, not only for the next two years, but also for many years to come.
Next week, I will ask the Nevada Transportation Board to approved the sale of $200 million in new transportation bonds to jump start highway construction projects across the state. In addition, I have included in my budget $325 million in transportation bonding authority over the next two years.
The $524 million will allow us to complete the widening of U.S. 95 in Las Vegas, complete the Henderson Spaghetti Bowl project, complete the freeway from Reno to Carson City, and finish construction of the Carson City Bypass.
So, tonight let us all come together as Nevadans in a great spirit of unity and purpose and build a kind of Nevada where future generations will look back on this night and remember, 'We seized the moment, we made tough decisions, we did the right thing.'