Sandoval: Governor must lead economic diversification |

Sandoval: Governor must lead economic diversification

Just as businesses have done, the state needs to make serious cutbacks, Republican candidate for governor Brian Sandoval said Thursday.

“I meet with business owners and they have had to reduce payroll, had to reduce the size of their workforce, had to reduce benefits and make a lot of sacrifices,” he said. “I do believe state government has to do the same thing.”

Sandoval said every effort must be made not to raise taxes, which he said would damage efforts to diversify the state’s economy.

“I’m hopeful we can reduce spending within the state and not raise taxes and not have mass layoffs and not reduce vital services,” he said. “I’m definitely going to be looking at all areas of state government to determine how best we can deliver services to the people of this state in the most efficient manner.”

He said that’s one reason to look at potential changes in the collective bargaining laws – particularly K-12 education. In a financial crisis, he said, “there should be the ability to look at the contracts.” He said his emphasis would be “avoiding mass layoffs in lieu of across-the-board salary reductions.”

He said teacher salaries should be based on performance, not longevity.

“Important is merit pay and rewarding the teachers that really do a great job,” he said.

Sandoval said Nevada is rated by CEO Magazine as one of the most attractive business climates in the nation.

“One of the advantages is our low tax structure, which makes us very attractive,” he said, arguing that raising taxes would hurt that status.

“With the way businesses are performing now, I don’t know who you’re going to tax,” he said. “A corporate tax, I think, would be devastating to businesses within the state and harm the state’s ability to attract new businesses here.”

Sandoval, 46, is making a rare challenge of the incumbent Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons. He said as governor, he would be the state’s point man in diversifying the economy.

“The key is diversifying the economy so we’re not subject to the ups and downs we have been historically. The next governor needs to be personally involved with economic development, making the phone calls and visiting CEOs,” he said. “If someone in the business community could give me a call list, every day I would call 10 businesses out of state, call 10 businesses in state to see what we can do to keep them here.”

Sandoval said he brings broad experience to the job.

“I’ve been told I’m the first candidate in the history of the state to have worked in all three branches of government,” he said.

Sandoval was an Assemblyman for two terms, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission and attorney general, then an appointed federal district judge – the position he resigned to run for governor.

Pointing out that Sandoval left each one of those positions before completing his term, Gibbons has labeled him a quitter. Sandoval rejected that charge, saying he is proud of his record of public service.

“I guess the response is I’ve never quit anything in my life and the one thing that remains consistent is public service and my commitment to the people of the state of Nevada,” he said.

He said he left the lifetime appointment to the federal bench because, “I was concerned about the state and felt that I had the right experience to make a difference.”

He denied charges he isn’t truly a conservative and would give away the farm in negotiations.

“I think there’s been some confusion. When you consider something, that means you listen. Through my entire career I’ve been willing to listen. Does that mean I will agree all the time? No, but I will listen. My door is open. I think it’s very important to have a governor that’s willing to listen to all sides of an issue.”