Montandon: Economic crisis is an opportunity for change
Mike Montandon says despite the state’s dire financial condition, now is the time he wants to be governor.
“I wouldn’t want to be governor any other time,” he said Tuesday. “I believe the opportunities presented to examine the way we deliver services don’t ever occur except in a down economic cycle.”
He said the situation opens the opportunity to do two things.
First: “To question is this the proper role of government and, for those things that are the proper role of government, are we delivering them in the best possible way.”
Second: To consider what government shouldn’t be doing.
He said education is a prime example of a government service that needs to change.
“The primary expenditure is education and we’ve created a system where we are delivering education in a completely noncompetitive environment, and there’s just no way you’re going to get the best quality in a noncompetitive environment,” he said. “We need to take this opportunity to deliver choice and quality in education.”
Montandon, the former three-term mayor of North Las Vegas, faces two other Republicans in the June 8 primary election: Incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons and former judge and attorney general Brian Sandoval.
He said he has been surprised by campaigning in Carson City, which he said is “different from the rest of the state because every third adult you run into works for the state.”
He said he expected them to urge him not to cut state government but that hasn’t been the case.
“Many of them tell me if anybody would just listen, they’d tell you all kinds of things that can be cut,” he said.
Montandon said facing a $3 billion budget shortfall that, without tax increases, would force a 50 percent cut in general fund spending will require drastic action.
“We’re going to have a short-term, very ugly situation,” he said. “How about if we shut down a drastic portion of the state for two years? We’ll come up with temporary division cuts; say we can’t afford to do this right now and for two years we’re going to do without it and, at the end of two years, we determine whether we need it.”
“We have a history of tax increases that became permanent,” Montandon said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had temporary expense cuts that became permanent also?”
He said he brings 12 years of executive experience to the job.
“One thing I’ve seen very clearly is that while Jim Gibbons brought years of experience, it was Legislative and didn’t seem to translate across from the Legislative Branch to the Executive Branch very well,” he said.
He said when he asked lawmakers about the governor’s stand on various issues, “I kept getting the answer, ‘We don’t know because he doesn’t come around and tell us.'”
Why he would be a better choice than candidate Brian Sandoval, he said, “is relatively easy to answer.”
“Is he for the defense of marriage initiative or against the defense of marriage initiative? Is he for drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens or against them? He took a bulldog role in fighting very aggressively for tax increases in the ’03 session. Now he claims he would fight against taxes.”
“He stands for whatever the person in front of him wants to hear,” said Montandon.
Montandon said as governor, he wants to position the state for the best recovery possible as the recession ends by making Nevada “pro-industry, pro-business attractive.” He said he’s the person for that job because he has 12 years experience as mayor bringing business to North Las Vegas.
The way to do it, he said, is “looking CEOs right in the eye and telling them we’re not going to offer you any tax breaks like some other states are because we aren’t going to take those taxes from you in the first place.”
One area, he said, where Nevada must change its laws is removing policies that tell the nuclear power industry it’s not welcome here. He said places including Australia and New Zealand are already coming up with technologies which generate almost none of the kind of waste that would fill Yucca Mountain.
“If we don’t jump to the lead, the rest of the world will leave us behind,” he said.
COMING THIS WEEK
Governor candidates: Interviews with Gov. Jim Gibbons and Brian Sandoval.