Nevada Legislature: Gov. Sandoval basking in legislative successes
Basking in the after-glow of a legislative session that handed him nearly everything on his agenda, Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday his education reforms are going to make a difference for Nevada’s children.
Sitting at his desk behind a small gold-lettered sign that says, “It CAN be done,” a smiling Sandoval made no secret of how pleased he was. But he willingly shared the credit with Democratic and Republican lawmakers who voted for his agenda and its education reforms from pre-kindergarten to English Language Learners, Zoom Schools, Victory Schools, career tech education, all-day kindergarten and Gifted and Talented programs.
“Any one or two of them would have been monumental,” he said. “I am absolutely convinced these will make a difference in the lives of children.”
Sandoval said he also intends to sign legislation ordering a study of whether to divide up the huge and unwieldy Clark County School District as well as the legislation creating individual educational savings accounts.
Opponents say the bill is code for vouchers that directly grants public cash to private businesses and religious groups — a violation of the state constitution.
Sandoval said he has been told there will “likely be a constitutional challenge” to that bill.
Those programs all drew support from lawmakers, even those who eventually opposed the tax increases needed to fund them.
Sandoval said no matter how it’s analyzed, “This was the education session.
“The what was the budget,” he said. “The why was the education piece.”
In the end, he pointed to the 13 of 25 Assembly Republicans who supported the tax plan saying “They came to the same conclusion I did.”
Sandoval entered office five years ago saying he flatly opposed tax increases. When he took office, he said unemployment was 14.5 percent, the state had a $2 billion deficit and was in its worst recession never.
“I said that would be the worst time to raise taxes,” he said.
Now the state is recovering and, he said, the situation is different.
Sandoval said education wasn’t the only issue in which significant progress was made this session. He said UNLV will get a new medical school and hotel college. There are highway projects coming throughout the state and nearly all cuts to state workers during the recession have been restored.
State workers even got raises of 1 percent the first year and 2 percent the second as well as elimination of the unpaid furlough days.
He also pointed to changes in collective bargaining and prevailing wage laws approved by lawmakers.
Asked whether those Republicans who backed his tax plan would suffer in the next election cycle, he said, “I think people are going to see the courage, that they stood up.”
He said the tax increase was necessary because, without it, the $7.3 billion General Fund budget would have had to be cut back to $6.5 billion.
“If we had a budget of $6.5 billion, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything,” he said.
Sandoval said in the coming days he will review and sign a large number of bills, many implementing those programs he supported during session. He said there still are more than 100 on his desk for review.
Now the Legislature has adjourned, he has 10 days to decide on each of those measures. Any bill he fails to sign or veto automatically becomes law — the opposite of the federal system in which a President’s failure to act vetoes legislation.