Steve Sisolak says as governor, he would work to provide students the kind of training that can get them good jobs.
But, he said, to do that the current education system needs to be fixed.
“Classrooms are too big; teachers get paid too little and I don’t think we are adequately training the kids coming out of school,” he said.
Sisolak is one of two major candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, facing fellow Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani in the primary.
He said 10 years on the Board of Regents made him “intimately aware of the problems educators, students and faculty face.”
“We need to make some adjustments,” he said. “What the Legislature has done for the past 20 years is not working.”
He said his time as a regent and on the commission also taught him a lot about getting things done.
“I call myself a pragmatic progressive,” he said adding his record is one of building consensus to solve problems.
“I get things done,” he said. “I don’t just vote no.”
Sisolak said the long-standing funding formula originally established in the Nevada Plan more than 50 years ago needs to be changed.
“I don’t want to punish anybody, but new revenue has to be directed to the area where there’s the greatest need,” he said.
Sisolak said he thinks high school graduates have three choices. They can join the military, go to college or go into the trades. He said he doesn’t think enough students know about that third option.
“Those jobs have been under-valued and under-appreciated for a long time,” he said.
Sisolak said those high school graduates don’t realize they can earn upward of $50,000 a year in the trades
He said mental health is a major issue the state must face and an issue he has become familiar with in 10 years on the Clark County Commission.
“Half of our detainees in jail are in for mental health issues,” he said referring to the Metropolitan Police jail in Las Vegas. “They don’t belong in jail. We’re not fixing the needs that really exist.”
On economic development, he said Nevada needs to start looking at the long term impact of tax abatements the state is giving big business. He said the missing revenue has to be replaced.
He also said the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is focused on the big businesses like Tesla and Panasonic and what Nevada needs is another agency focused on small businesses that want to expand. He said that includes the “mom and pop taco shop or flower shop.”
“With big business, the problem is that it’s one business. If that one business leaves, you’ve got a big problem,” he said. “ Start with the little one and give it a chance to grow.”
He said Nevada should focus on renewable energy — specifically solar.
“No other state has as much sun as we have,” he said. “We should be on the front of it, not just development and production but research.”
Finally, Sisolak said in the wake of recent school shootings and the massacre on the Las Vegas Strip that left 58 dead, he wants the voter-approved law requiring background checks for gun purchases implemented. Attorney General Adam Laxalt has said he can’t implement that initiative because the FBI won’t process those checks as required by the way it’s written.
Sisolak has been planning his run for governor for a while. He listed $5.75 million cash on hand in his January report, $2.5 million of it raised in 2017.