Governor defends veto at meeting with Fallon Rotary

FALLON - Addressing an audience in here that included numerous public officials, Gov. Jim Gibbons moved to head off potential questions about Friday's veto that cut off funding for a regional juvenile detention center.

He told the Fallon Rotary Club he had good news and bad news: "The good news is the Legislature adjourned sine die. Unfortunately, the bad news is I vetoed one of your bills.

"I did so because I had the policy of no new taxes this session."

Gibbons urged Churchill and Lyon County officials in the audience to take the issue to a vote of the people saying if they approve of raising property taxes to operate a juvenile center, "you will have my support."

County officials, however, said that doesn't help them deal with a growing number of delinquents and the fact their plans for a center have been pushed back three years.

Churchill County Manager Brad Goetsch said he has called on officials, including juvenile probation officers from not only Lyon and Churchill but Storey, Pershing, and even the counties that have juvenile centers to get together soon to see what can be done.

"We've been sending our kids to Douglas, Washoe and Carson City but they're filling up," he said. "If the other counties had room, this would not be an issue."

Goetsch said the lack of juvenile detention beds is a regional problem.

"What this will mean is youths will be released on the streets who should not be on the streets," he said.

Lyon County Manager Bob Hadfield said the problem is the state imposes mandates to care for juveniles, but then denies counties the money to do the job. He also rejected Gibbons' argument that letting county commissioners decide how much to raise the property tax to pay for the center is a tax increase without taking the issue to the people. Hadfield and Goetsch said both commissions planned to have full hearings on the issue, including participation of taxpayers.

In his speech, Gibbons touted some of his legislative victories, including creation of "empowerment schools" with the freedom to manage their own curricula, school hours and other programs. He also said the public education budget increased 18 percent to record levels for the coming two years.

He said the transportation package he signed off on provides a total of more than $2 billion for roadway construction through the regular NDOT budget and the funding package, which takes some county and convention center money from the local level. Gibbons said that won't completely take care of the problem but that it gives all concerned 18 months to come up with other ideas.

And he pointed to tougher rules on sex offenders who get out of prison, including GPS tracking bracelets for those deemed most likely to re-offend.

He said his focus will be on developing some of the state's huge renewable energy potential with the goal eventually of selling power instead of importing power to the tune of $6 billion a year at present.

"We are sitting today on the greatest renewable energy resources," he said. "We have geothermal, solar and wind."

He said geothermal resources alone could produce 5,000 megawatts of power.

Solar and wind sources, he said, are still expensive "but getting there."

"So let's start thinking about how we get this energy into the grid," he said.

Press Secretary Melissa Subbotin said Fallon was the first in a series of forums. She said later this summer the governor will make an extended road trip to numerous small communities around the state. She said the schedule for that road trip hasn't been finalized.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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