Problems create opportunity for change | NevadaAppeal.com

Problems create opportunity for change

Legislative leaders told their respective houses Monday that while Nevada faces huge budget problems, this is also an opportunity to make some important changes to state government while protecting vital services.

“This session will be about what kind of state we want to be,” said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas. “While there are so many economic issues beyond our control, there is much within our control that we can focus on immediately.”

Her counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said those challenges are an opportunity “to choose the kind of future we want for ourselves but, more importantly, for our children.”

Both listed a number of issues. Buckley talked about protecting homeowners from foreclosure, protecting renters and cracking down on scam artists preying on those in foreclosure trouble. She said job creation must be a top priority and that doing so through development of renewable energy resources could be a key in that effort.

She said lawmakers must fix the loss of confidence in health-care regulation which followed the Hepatitis C crisis in Las Vegas.

Horsford too talked about creating jobs and lowering energy costs by developing Nevada’s renewable energy resources. But he said shrinking class sizes in public schools and fixing the university system “without forcing students to pay three times as much in tuition” are also high on his list.

And he said lawmakers “can make health care a priority and ensure programs like Nevada Check-Up and Medicaid services for families and seniors are preserved.” And both referenced the need to reform the state’s financial and revenue generating system.

But neither used the “T” word ” taxes.

Buckley talked about the need to address “gaps in revenue for our priorities and ways to address them.” She and Horsford have both said first the state must determine what can be cut and by how much, what savings can come from reforms and what cannot be cut. That, they said, will determine the need.

“We cannot allow this defining moment to undo the work many in this chamber have accomplished despite the economic challenges before us,” Horsford said.

He cautioned that, while the stimulus package moving through Congress will solve some problems, it won’t handle everything, that it won’t let lawmakers off the hook.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.