Nevada Sen. Dean Heller calls for commitment to veterans, tax reform |

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller calls for commitment to veterans, tax reform

Sen. Dean Heller speaks at the Nevada Legislature in the Assembly Chambers earlier in 2015.
Jim Grant / | Nevada Appeal

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., told a joint session of the Nevada Legislature on Monday that, with the Republican takeover, “for the first time in six years, the United States Senate is open for business.”

He said the Senate has passed a budget for the first time in six years.

“Nevadans, this legislative body and all Americans have to live on a budget,” Heller said.

He said the U.S. is $18 trillion in debt and that the debt is growing at a rate of $4 million a minute.

Heller called for fundamental tax reform, which, he said, hasn’t happened since Ronald Reagan was president. The Carson City resident said his appointment to the Senate Finance Committee also will give him a role in badly needed tax reform.

“But today, the White House will only participate in fundamental tax reform if it includes a trillion dollar tax increase,” he said.

He said tax reform is the only way to move the country forward, build the economy and to stop companies from leaving the U.S. for foreign countries.

One recent company bought out by foreign interests, he said, is the company that makes baseball bats for Major League Baseball — Louisville Slugger — purchased by a company in Finland.

He said that is one of about 1,300 American companies that have left because of the tax climate and that it’s a trend that must be reversed.

“The only way that will happen is through fundamental tax reform,” he said.

Heller said one of his main focuses is trying to ensure that America’s veterans are taken care of.

“Nevada being home to over 300,000 veterans and approximately 27,000 of them are women veterans, I remain committed to advocating for veterans.”

He said he took the lead on efforts to reduce the VA backlog, which was worse in Nevada than most places.

“Until the backlog is eliminated, I will not back down,” he said.

He said infrastructure is also key to Nevada’s future. Earlier Monday, he participated in the groundbreaking for the future Interstate 11 that will eventually connect Reno and Las Vegas — which, he said, are the nation’s two most populous cities not connected by a freeway.

I-11, he said, has the potential to play a strong role in the state’s economic future and what is needed is a long-term surface transportation bill that keeps the highway trust fund solvent.

“It has the potential to open even more markets for tourism and trade, which will improve our economy and create jobs.”

He drew applause when he said he is “a big proponent of transferring much of our land back to local or state government control.”

Heller pointed to the lands bills approved by Congress this past year that do bring some land back to state control, saying that package of eight bills will spur development and progress across the state. He said an example is the land released in Yerington that will help Nevada Copper expand its mining operation to create more than 1,000 new jobs.

Members of the congressional delegation are invited to address the Legislature every session, the only remaining speaker scheduled is Rep. Crescent Hardy, R-Nev., who speaks to lawmakers Thursday.