Nevada Republican Sen. Bob Beers, who made his reputation as a member of the "mean 15" Assembly members opposing the Legislature's 2003 tax increases, announced Wednesday he will run for governor in 2006.
Beers was an assemblyman for three sessions including 2003 when he helped lead opposition to the tax package. He used that as a springboard to unseat veteran Las Vegas Republican Ray Rawson from the Nevada Senate last year, arguing the tax increase Rawson supported was far more than the state needed.
"I spent the last four sessions in Carson City trying to reduce our rate of growth to the statistical rate of growth."
Beers said that until 2003, Nevada government grew at a much more moderate rate but has increased spending more than 20 percent in each of the last two sessions. Despite his efforts, he said he has been unable to greatly reduce that growth from the Assembly or Senate.
"There's a statistic floating around that the Legislature has never changed the governor's budget by more than 3 percent ,so it seems to me the place to be to change the budget is the governor's office."
Comparing himself to Republican gubernatorial front-runner Rep. Jim Gibbons, he said his service on Ways and Means for three sessions and as vice chairman of Senate Finance this past session gives him an advantage in understanding the state budget and spending needs.
"I've spent four legislative sessions totally immersed in the budget," he said.
"I think that gives me a leg up in what I need to know to protect the paychecks of the average family.
"I think the question is, should state government expand more rapidly than the state is growing," he said. "I'm very serious about the importance of stopping the hyper-growth of our state government."
Asked where he would cut, he said "essentially our war on poverty." He specifically cited Medicaid and Welfare budgets saying the percentage of people needing those programs was lower when the state concentrated on providing more jobs for people.
He said he agreed to support the record budget this session after fellow Republicans in the Senate agreed to use part of their share of the "pork" spending to give some taxes back to business by reducing the business tax rate for the next two years.
Beers, 45, made it clear he has no intention of running a negative campaign against Gibbons or any other Republican candidates. He said he would "enthusiastically" support the Republican nominee selected in the primary.
Beers is a CPA who sold his company two years ago to join Payroll Solutions, which provides payroll, tax and other services to small businesses around the state.
He said controlling the growth and spending of state government is his primary goal, but that he is also interested in innovative ways to improve public education.
"I have a vision of a whole bunch of school districts each with a high school, two or three middle schools and a bunch of elementary schools," he said.
Beers said that would bring education closer to local control by parents and make schools more responsive to needs of students.
He said something like 10 percent of high school students in Clark County didn't get diplomas because they failed proficiency exams - far higher than in Washoe County or, for example, Carson City.
n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.