RENO - Gov. Jim Gibbons told the Builders Association of Northern Nevada Wednesday evening the industry will be key to the state's economic recovery.
But, he said, with consumer confidence weak, the mortgage markets in trouble and unsold inventory on the market, it's going to take time to fix.
"We're going to be in this for a while," he said. "But my optimism is if I had the money, I would be out buying homes today."
But he assured the group of more than 160 at the Siena Hotel Spa Casino that recovery doesn't mean tax increases.
"The number one way I see to move forward at this time is to not raise taxes on you at this time," he said, drawing applause from the crowd. "We are going to make the state of Nevada live within its means."
Gibbons said the state's budget increased $1 billion this biennium.
"Last week, I reduced that increase by $913 million," he said.
And he made it clear if the shortfall continues to grow, he will cut more.
"This is not about raising taxes. This is about cutting spending."
But Gibbons predicted Nevada will recover and said the builders will be key to that recovery.
"The economy in this great community rests on your shoulders," he told the audience. "When something happens in your industry, the economy takes a nose dive."
But he said the industry always comes back.
He said there is $38 billion worth of construction under way in Southern Nevada, adding more than 40,000 hotel rooms which will create up to 200,000 new jobs. That, he said, will turn the economy around.
As the state continues to grow, Gibbons said it must become less dependent on imported energy or there will be more economic problems in the future.
But, he said the state has the resources to become energy independent by capitalizing on its wind, sun and geothermal resources.
"Our way forward is to build our way out of this slump and build our way to energy independence."
Another key to Nevada's future growth, he said, is to better manage and allocate water resources needed to support that growth. He renewed his call, begun in the 2007 Legislature, for a thorough study of Nevada's water resources, use and needs in the future. He said leaders in both the Las Vegas Valley and the Reno area have concluded they will need to reach outside their basins for water to support future growth. But he said the studies haven't been done to determine if that water is there and how best to use it.
"In a desert environment, we need to know what water resources we have before we allocate,"
But pointing out that some said the Reno area was out of water for new growth more than 25 years ago, he said there are ways to find the necessary water. He said that means studying the water situation, identifying what can be used and where, and then to "allocate it reasonably with sound science."
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.