2019 State of the State Address: Gov. Sisolak seeks 3 percent raise for Nevada state workers
Gov. Steve Sisolak Wednesday praised the progress and economic growth Nevada is experiencing.
“But before we get lost in celebration, we have to remember our families who haven’t felt the recovery,” he said. “The budget and priorities that I will outline tonight are focused on this objective: making sure that Nevada’s economic recovery reaches every family, that our schools prepare every child to reach their potential and that our health care system is there for every Nevadan that needs it.”
Atop his list, he said, is a well-deserved 3 percent raise for state workers this coming year. He said the state’s teachers also should receive that pay raise — their first state-funded pay increase in a dozen years.
He said his plan also includes an increase in the minimum wage because no family can live on $7.25 an hour.
“Too many Nevadans are working too little,” he said adding he also wants to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work and to provide paid leave for Nevada workers.
In addition to a raise, he said state workers should have collective bargaining rights as local government workers do.
Sisolak pledged funding for apprenticeship and job training programs saying success doesn’t always have to start with a four-year degree. He said added funding will provide Career and Technical education to serve an additional 2,000 students.
In addition, he said he will work to adjust the long-standing Nevada plan so that funding follows the students. He said that means raising weighted student funding program begun by his predecessor from $36 million to $70 million a year, providing extra academic support for an additional 28,200 at-risk students.
He pledged continued funding for preschool development programs, Read by Grade 3, Zoom Schools and Victory Schools.
He repeated his campaign promise to defend the Affordable Care Act including protections for pre-existing conditions. He said he also supports the state’s efforts to prevent the Trump administration from rolling back the requirement employers include birth control overage in health plans.
He said to support women’s health care, he’s dedicating $3 million a year to provide more of those life-saving services.
He said he wants to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care, reduce the wait list for children with autism and improve access to mental health services by increasing the hours Mobile Crisis Units operate.
He said his plan includes adding staff and support not only for mental health access and substance abuse programs across the state but in Nevada’s prisons to identify and treat low-level offenders ready for a second chance.
For veterans, he said he’s adding veteran services officers to help vets access up to $114 million a year in federal money to pay for benefits they deserve.
For DACA recipients and others in similar circumstances, he’s creating a Governor’s Office for New Americans to, “help them navigate government services, build new businesses and let them know that they are welcome here.”
Sisolak said he supports the goal of reaching 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.
He said for school safety, he wants part of the 10 percent marijuana tax to prevent violence in schools.
Altogether, Sisolak’s staff said the majority of the proposals fit within the $8.84 billion in General Fund revenue projected by the Economic Forum. To make up the roughly $69 million difference, they said Sisolak will continue to divert roughly 25 percent of the Governmental Services Tax to the General Fund — producing some $21 million in added cash — and maintain the Modified Business Tax rate at its current level instead of allowing it to sunset to a lower level — generating about $48 million.
He said as an extension of that, he’s working to implement common-sense background checks on firearm sales as approved by voters in 2016 and will outlaw bump-stocks that make semi-automatic rifles fire like machine guns.
“The proposals laid out tonight are presented with the goal of ensuring that every family sitting around every dinner table sees the benefit of the economic recovery that those at the top have already felt,” Sisolak said.
To make that happen, he said his door is open and “we need good ideas form everyone,” which means working together.
“That will be my mission as your governor,” he said.