Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak during a press conference in the Twitch Lounge at Allegiant Stadium on June 17, 2021, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Wednesday announced a series of programs addressing everything from housing and small business support to education and childcare costs.
Those programs, he said, will all be funded by the massive infusion of federal dollars, a total of some $6.7 billion.
Among the largest programs is what he called the “Home Means Nevada” initiative that will pump $500 million into programs to lower the cost of housing and help people stay in their homes. The shortage of housing, he said, is a crippling burden.
He also announced an additional $160 million to support childcare centers and their workers. That is on top of the $200 million already spent in that area.
He also pledged funding to provide every public school pupil free lunch.
He pledged to fund a significant pay raise for law enforcement employed by the state who, he said, are making much less than their local counterparts.
He said those officers must be well-trained, well-equipped and well-paid to fight growing crime in the state.
Sisolak pointed out the number of homicides increased 44 percent in Southern Nevada this past year.
Sisolak said he is directing the Governor’s Workforce Development Committee to look for ways to make community college and other apprenticeship and training programs free for more Nevadans by 2025 and develop a small business accelerator program to help startups get off the ground and expand.
He called for a bipartisan task force to find ways to cut red tape in occupational licensing, pointing out that Nevada requires licenses for nearly every occupational profession.
Pointing out that Nevada added 994,000 jobs last year, he said this is the state with the best economic momentum in the nation.
From the federal infrastructure bill, Sisolak said Nevada will invest more than $4 billion to upgrade roads, bridges and water systems. He said another $500 million will expand broadband Internet infrastructure across the state.
But Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, charged the federal money is being used to “balloon the size of our government.” He pointed out the federal pandemic money is, “one-time money.”
“This money will be spent to grow the government’s size with no thought how to fund that growth when the money is gone. It is a bill you, the citizens of Nevada, will be on the hook for when the money is gone.”
Finally, Settelmeyer pointed out that Nevada still has among the highest unemployment rates in the nation.