State of the state address full of suspense

The buzz may not compare to the opening of a Harry Potter film, but there are lots of people eagerly awaiting the words of Gov. Jim Gibbons in his State of the State Address on Monday.

Usually, these things are dull and predictable. This one might have been, too, if Gibbons hadn't announced his intentions to make some major changes to the state budget. Even seasoned lawmakers will be paying rapt attention when he pulls the curtains aside on his plans.

Nobody wants a milquetoast governor, so Gibbons already scores high marks when it comes to ambition. And that extends beyond the budget.

We love his intention to lead Nevada out of the meth jungle, for example. The state leads the nation in the percentage of residents who have used meth. That's unacceptable and it creates a ripple of other effects on social services, law enforcement and schools.

In the minds of some legislators, Gibbons already forfeited any aspirations to become the education governor when he sliced all-day kindergarten out of the budget. We'll withhold judgment for now, but it is urgent that he present a plan that will get Nevada off the bottom of just about every quality-of-education list that comes out nationwide. That's also unacceptable.

But we're most interested in the details on the "exciting" changes to the budget he has promised. We already know he'll be a frugal, no-tax-increases governor ... he was very clear on those points during his campaign. But how will he reconcile that with the need to pay for billions of dollars in new highway construction, new prisons, state worker health benefits and a long list of other bills?

The answer to that question will be the highlight of the Jim Gibbons show Monday night.


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