Meet Brian Sandoval, Nevada’s Party Pooper He may be the most popular Republican in the country. So why does it feel like every GOP candidate is running in the other direction?

brian-sandoval-bongLast June, on a school playground in Las Vegas, a Republican governor plopped into a chair before a folding metal table, applied a gray pen to a slip of paper, and broke into a jaunty grin while a throng of elementary students clapped politely. With that signature, Brian Sandoval passed part of an education package derived from an enormous tax increase well north of a billion dollars, the largest tax hike in the 151-year history of Nevada.
Since then, Sandoval has found himself somewhat lonely on the Republican stage—which is ironic, perhaps, for a handsome, hugely popular Latino star in a party eager to showcase its Hispanic credentials, a man who has been leading a state that has been thoroughly combed for months by Republican presidential candidates ahead of the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday. Only a week ago in South Carolina, the endorsement of another high-wattage GOP star, Nikki Haley, was huge news and may well have turned the tide of the race—or at least driven Jeb Bush out when Haley crushed his hopes by endorsing his rival Marco Rubio.
But the courting of Sandoval, if you can call it that, has been a far more subtle affair for the GOP presidential candidates. He is in the unenviable position of being seen as an ideological apostate who simultaneously boasts approval ratings in the high-to-mid 60s. When the general election comes, Sandoval’s endorsement will be desperately needed; Democrats privately fear he could be a potent weapon to drive Latino and Hispanic turnout. But in an unpredictable and highly partisan GOP caucus, with many conservative Republicans alleging betrayal by Sandoval over his historic tax hike and threatening revolt, the endorsement of the Nevada governor is seen as more of a headache than a helpmate. And no one is quite sure what to do about him.
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Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval gets floated as a possible Supreme Court nominee

brian-sandoval-bongFollowing Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, there’s been debate over whether President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement, and if the Republican-controlled Senate should block any and all nominations until the president’s final term runs out.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement that Scalia’s seat on the bench should not be filled by the Obama administration, arguing that “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”

But in a post to The Fix titled “5 possible Supreme Court picks that could make Republicans squirm,” The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips says Obama could still move ahead with finding someone to put before the Senate.

“Outside the Beltway, there’s one name that could really make things awkward for Republicans mostly because he’s such a qualified candidate,” she writes about Sandoval.

She lists the facts that he’s Republican, Hispanic, a former federal judge and moderate on certain issues like abortion, immigration and same-sex marriage.

“The governor is such a consensus-building candidate that, by picking him, Obama would be extending an olive branch that Republicans could look foolish in batting away,” Phillips says.

Governor Brian Sandoval State of CORRUPTION

Governor Brian Sandoval State of CORRUPTION

But she also says that stance on abortion could be a non-starter with Senate Republicans.

us supreme court

U.S. Supreme Court

“It would be difficult to near-impossible to imagine 14 Senate Republicans voting to the highest court someone who opposes this most basic conservative principle,” Phillips writes. “And it’s likely that some Senate Democrats would balk at a guy who is pretty conservative on many other issues.”

The Washington Post isn’t the only outlet suggesting the governor as a possibility.

The Morning Consult also put forth Sandoval as a candidate for the nomination, saying the governor could be a legacy choice for Obama.

“He might consider a popular Republican from a swing state, one whose ideology would be acceptable to Democrats and whose stature would be impossible for Senate Republicans to ignore one who has won unanimous Senate confirmation to a judicial post in the past, and who is said to yearn for a return to the judiciary,” Reid Wilson writes.

Sen. Dean Heller also might have hinted at Sandoval as a possibility. Heller said in a statement released Wednesday:

The chances of approving a new nominee are slim, but Nevadans should have a voice in the process. That’s why I encourage the President to use this opportunity to put the will of the people ahead of advancing a liberal agenda on the nation’s highest court. But should he decide to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, who knows, maybe it’ll be a Nevadan.

A spokesman for Heller later told the Associated Press the senator believes the nomination should wait for the next president. The AP also acknowledged that Brian Sandoval is among the names political activists have discussed as a possibility, though an unlikely one.


Gov. Brian Sandoval has thrown down the gauntlet in the battle over hardrock mining’s future in Nevada, taking the bold step of calling out Sally Jewell over management of agencies she oversees as Secretary of the Interior.

brian-sandoval-bongGov. Brian Sandoval has thrown down the gauntlet in the battle over hardrock mining’s future in Nevada, taking the bold step of calling out Sally Jewell over management of agencies she oversees as Secretary of the Interior.

Their response will reveal whether the proposed mineral withdrawal is more about helping the sage grouse or harming the state’s mining industry.

The Bureau of Land Management’s comment period closed three weeks ago, and Nevadans could learn by the end of the month whether the current two-year ban will be extended to 20 years. If it is, there will be no exploration along the northern edge of our state, nor in much of Idaho and southeastern Oregon.

Sandoval submitted the state’s official comments by the Jan. 15 deadline, including a revision that followed his talks with Jewell in early December. “Secretary Jewell committed to robust collaboration on the mineral withdrawal process,” he announced at the time. “The Secretary understands the national security and economic development importance of the mineral potential in Nevada.”

The deal outlined by our governor would preserve mining exploration on most of the proposed withdrawal area, while protecting critical sage grouse habitat in other areas. But it may be in jeopardy, because on Jan. 28 Sandoval issued a press release putting Jewell on the spot.

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Sandoval calls for halt to Syrian refugees in Nevada

By Megan Messerly (contact)


Gov. Brian Sandoval joined at least 23 other Republican governors in opposing Syrian refugees resettlement in their states.

In a letter to President Barack Obama released late Monday night, Sandoval asked the White House to review its refugee resettlement process and asked that no additional Syrian refugees be admitted for resettlement in Nevada until that review had been completed.

“I am specifically concerned about the background checks performed for Syrian refugees sent to Nevada for resettlement, and would appreciate further guidance on the benefits eligibility of such persons while they reside here,” Sandoval wrote.

Earlier Monday, Sandoval said in a statement that he was committed to the safety of all Nevadans, but did not specifically mention Syrian refugees, implying that he believed the matter was more appropriately handled by the federal government.

“We must balance our nation’s role as an international leader with the safety and security of our citizens and visitors,” Sandoval said in a statement.

Throughout Monday, pressure mounted from Republican leaders in the state — including Sen. Dean Heller, GOP Chairman Michael McDonald and state Assemblyman John Moore — who called for Sandoval to deny Syrian refugees entry.

“While I recognize the merits of assisting refugees during a time of crisis, I also need assurances that the safety of Nevadans will not be compromised as a result of accepting refugees,” Heller wrote in his letter. “Unfortunately, at this time, there are too many unanswered questions about the effectiveness of the program and ultimately the number of Syrian refugees who may come to our state after being resettled elsewhere in the U.S.”

Democratic candidate for Senate Catherine Cortez Masto voiced concerns this evening, saying that law enforcement and the intelligence agencies needed to review the intake process for Syrian refugees. “In light of ISIS’ despicable exploitation of the refugee crisis to target the West, we must ensure that our vetting process for accepting Syrian refugees is as thorough as possible,” she said in a statement.

Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the agency responsible for resettling refugees across the state, reported last month that it had resettled nine Syrian refugees in Nevada this year.

The governors of at least 24 states have announced that they would not accept Syrian refugees, according to CNN. Of those, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is the only Democrat.

The governors raised security concerns about the refugees after a Syrian passport was found near one of the suicide bombers in Paris. Greek officials have said that the passport was used to enter the country on the island of Leros — one of the points of entry to Greece for Syrian refugees — in October.

The governors’ announcements clash with President Barack Obama’s plan for the United States to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. The State Department affirmed its commitment today to take in that same number of refugees.

Rep. Joe Heck signed a letter today urging Obama to halt the admissions of all Syrian refugees into the country. “Our first priority must be to protect our own citizens from harm,” the letter reads. “We urge your immediate action to suspend these admissions until effective vetting and monitoring processes are established that ensures the safety of the American people.”

LVRJ LETTERS: Sandoval’s big budget fails smell test

To the editor:

The analysis of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s 2015 budget is the only article I’ve yet read which cites the state’s actual revenue projections (“Dig a little deeper starting July 1,” June 7 Review-Journal). Thank you. But does the budget pass the smell test? Not so much.

Gov. Sandoval says, “We’ve structured a new revenue policy and budget that should stand the test of time.” I remember the last time someone said that: Gov. Kenny Guinn, when he and the Legislature raised Nevada taxes by some $760 million just 12 years ago. Gov. Sandoval’s biennial budget increased taxes by $1.1 billion — in a state of about 3 million people. New taxes add $754 million, which means that without any new taxes, we’d have a $346 million increase to spend on 385,000 public school students. Was that not enough?

Instead, we get things such as the commerce tax ($229 million), which, according to the article, will be levied on “giants such as Wal-Mart, car manufacturers, pharmaceutical and telecom companies,” based on their Nevada-generated revenues. But I wonder, does “car manufacturers” include Tesla? I’m betting that it doesn’t, because Gov. Sandoval granted Elon Musk $1.3 billion in tax incentives just last year.

And forgive another presumption, but I’m betting that government-sanctioned monopolies such as Cox Communications and NV Energy (a Berkshire Hathaway company) will find a way to skate, as well.

The second-largest arrow in Gov. Sandoval’s quiver is on cigarettes, raising the tax from 80 cents to $1.80 per pack ($192.3 million, plus $15.5 million in additional sales tax). This is the perfect exercise in political cynicism — and never mind that the left usually hates regressive taxes. First, select an unpopular minority; second, double their taxes (pre-Gov. Guinn, the Nevada tax was 38 cents); and third, justify it as “populist.” Huey Long would applaud.

The modified business tax ($190.4 million) and the business license increase ($81.4 million) also fail the test. And curiously, the expansion of the live entertainment tax doesn’t kick in until Oct. 1 — after the Burning Man Festival and the Electric Daisy Carnival have left. One wonders if a 9 percent dip on their gross receipts this year might have created a debate in the 2015 Legislature. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I guess we’ll never know.

As a musician for the past 25 years, I’ve regularly left Strip hotels at 3 a.m. On the way to the parking garage, my back-door exits have led me past Dumpsters reeking of bad fish, spoiled vegetables and what civilized America throws away. Gov. Sandoval’s budget reminds me, vividly, of those smells.



Confederate controversy

To the editor:

Regarding the article on UNLV’s nickname (“Reid calls on regents to revisit ‘Rebels’ as UNLV’s nickname,” June 24 Review-Journal): Sen. Harry Reid proudly authored legislation that created Great Basin National Park near Ely in 1986. According to the senator’s website, he claims to have consistently passed legislation to “protect and enhance Great Basin National Park and the surrounding communities in White Pine County.”

This legislative protection and enhancement would logically extend to one of the mountain peaks located within Great Basin National Park, curiously named after Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America.

If Sen. Reid can express moral outrage with the name “Rebels” within days of the recent Confederate flag controversy, why has he not expressed the same moral outrage during the past 29 years for a Nevada mountain peak named after Jefferson Davis, located within a national park that he takes credit for creating?



Reporting winnings

To the editor:

The editorial concerning the IRS proposal to reduce the threshold for reporting gambling winnings from $1,200 to $600 was right on (“Rewards scarred,” June 17 Review-Journal). Another important aspect that wasn’t mentioned is that although you can deduct gambling losses to the extent of winnings, winnings do increase your adjusted gross income. That’s especially important to seniors.

Higher adjusted gross income can cause an increase in Medicare, prescription and Medicare supplemental coverage costs. Also, it can increase the taxes paid on Social Security income, the deductions allowed for medical expenses and other itemized deductions.



Papal politics

To the editor:

Regarding Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical (“Pope demands ‘decisive action’ on climate,” June 19 Review-Journal), not since Pope Paul V and the inquisitional ruling regarding a heliocentric solar system supported by Galileo’s work has a pope demonstrated so clearly why the church should leave science to the scientists and politics to the politicians.

Pope Francis has returned the church to a foolish path with his stumbling opinions on economic systems used by various countries around the world by clearly advocating for a socialistic course. His position regarding global warming is equally as wrong-minded and scientifically asinine.

Pope Francis is taking the church down a historically and scientifically labeled dead-end street with his positions on both issues.



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CORRUPT Gov. Sandoval: Decision About Political Future Coming ‘Very Soon’

brian-sandoval-bongNevada Gov. Brian Sandoval says he plans to decide “very soon” on the next step in his political career.

The widely corrupt Republican has been saying he was laser-focused on getting a $1.1 billion tax plan and major education initiatives past state lawmakers. He scored a major victory when the Republican-dominated Legislature approved a tax hike and budget before closing down their 120-day session on Monday.

Sandoval’s name has been discussed as a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Harry Reid, or as a vice presidential candidate.

The governor told reporters on Tuesday that he’s been ignoring outside political interests asking about his career prospects, but said an announcement will come in the near future.   (AP)

Will Sandoval run for Senate?

brian-sandoval-bongBy Kyle Roerink (contact)
Monday, May 4, 2015 | 2 a.m.

As a handsome, popular, moderate politician of Latino heritage, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval often is the subject of political speculation.
Even before his overwhelming re-election win, people were guessing about his ambitions to run for U.S. Senate.

Then Sen. Harry Reid announced his retirement, making a potential Senate run even more attractive to Sandoval.

For now, only Sandoval knows what his next move will be. He refuses to answer questions about his political aspirations, and his inner circle insists he is focused on the job Nevadans elected him to do.

But with Sandoval’s history of exiting office early to win a more powerful seat, pundits speculate he could make a 2016 power play for Reid’s seat.

There are compelling reasons for either decision.



Sandoval has a history of leaving jobs to take better positions. Three years into his term on the Nevada Gaming Commission, Sandoval resigned to run for attorney general. His landslide victory in November 2002 made him the first Latino to win statewide elected office.

Three years later, Reid recommended Sandoval to the federal bench. Sandoval stepped down early from his attorney general post to become a U.S. District Court judge.

Almost four years later, he left the lifetime appointment to run for governor. He is one of only three federal judges nationally to leave the bench to become governor.


Sandoval has a tight-knit cohort of lobbyists and consultants that has known him for decades and helped him climb the Nevada political ladder. The group includes people, namely Pete Ernaut and Greg Ferraro, who encouraged Sandoval to leave the bench to run for governor. Neither will hint about where the governor will go next, but if Ernaut and Ferraro want Sandoval to run for Senate, he likely would.

Both Ernaut and Ferraro helped coalesce the state’s divided Republican Party, aiding the GOP’s 2014 election sweep that ousted Democrats from every statewide office and gave both chambers of the Legislature to Republicans for the first time since 1928. The team also has deep ties to Washington, D.C.


Sandoval won his second term as governor with more than 70 percent of the vote. His popularity is attractive to the GOP. As Republicans nationwide look to rebrand the party as one of inclusion, who better than a Hispanic man from a swing state who embraced the Affordable Care Act, expanded Medicaid, lured Tesla Motors to Nevada and vowed to raise taxes to improve education?

Few potential GOP candidates can compare with Sandoval politically. None has the record, recognition or likeability among voters.



The governor has spent a long time at the top of the political pecking order. If Sandoval were to win Reid’s seat, he would head to Washington as a junior senator with little clout. The back seat is not familiar territory for him.

Sandoval has been a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commissino, attorney general and a federal judge. In other words, he has been the boss. Sandoval confidants say the governor is more attuned to running the show than being a player in it.


Sandoval loves Nevada, and insiders say a U.S. Senate seat isn’t ambitious enough to lure him away from his beloved home state. Vice president, however, or a Cabinet position — Department of the Interior, perhaps — they say would better suit Sandoval’s leadership qualities and not bog him down in congressional infighting.


Like all politicians, Sandoval wants a legacy. He has asked for at least $438 million a year to revamp the state’s public education system and is trying to broker tax increases to pay for reforms.

If the money comes through, which is likely, putting it to good use will take executive oversight and commitment throughout the remainder of his tenure as governor.

Who is running for Reid’s seat?

On the Republican side, state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson and Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers have thrown their names in the hat. Other potential candidates include Attorney General Adam Laxalt, former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Rep. Joe Heck, Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison and former state lawmaker Heidi Gansert.

On the Democratic side, Reid’s hand-chosen successor is former attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto, Sandoval’s former lawyer. Other potential candidates include former Secretary of State Ross Miller and Rep. Dina Titus.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s tax flip flop

In 2010 and 2014, Gov. Brian Sandoval promised Nevada voters that he wouldn’t raise taxes. Now he’s proposing the largest tax increase in Nevada history. Flip flopping on raising taxes isn’t a laughing matter for Nevadans. For more visit

…Gov. Brian Sandoval – you and your thugs are the “bullies”

governor sandovalLAS VEGAS — A bill backed by Governor Brian Sandoval’s office was heard in the Nevada State Assembly and is the latest attempt by lawmakers to stop bullying in Nevada schools.

Senate Bill 504 would create the Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment — within the State Department of Education — to give grants to schools to help pay for additional anti-bullying resources, including additional counselors.

Claudia Schwarz is a psychologist who regularly deals with children who are victims of bullying.

“I think it’s huge and I think it really helps. Schools need to have that legislation,” said Schwarz. “I think sometimes their hands are tied of what they can and what they can’t do.”

Schwarz says technology is creating more venues for bullies to pick on others.

“We really have to stop it before it becomes worse than it is right now, because it’s pretty bad now,” Schwarz said.

Last school year, Clark County schools reported nearly 2,300 suspensions or expulsions for bullying. That’s up 32 percent from the previous school year.

School officials say the increase is because definitions of bullying, harassment or acts of violence are now being reclassified. Officials say there was no category for bullying incidents on the Nevada school report card until three years ago.

“We have seen a trend of it moving up a little bit, but that is actually because of something that we want as far as having parents and students report it to the Clark County School District,” said Brandon Moeller, Assistant Director of Equity and Diversification at CCSD.

The bill would also hold school staff and administrators responsible for reporting bullying incidents to parents within a day — something psychologists believe is very important.

“I think that is critical,” said Schwarz. “That needs to happen, because many times they won’t know that their child is doing that.”

If administrators or staff do not report incidents of bullying, the bill would allow for teaching or administrative credentials to be removed.

A vote on the bill has not yet been scheduled.

Who’s A-list and who’s a longshot in the race to replace Harry Reid

After U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced he will not run for a sixth term, political prognosticators declared the post a “toss-up,” with either party able to win the seat in 2016.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval immediately was declared the favorite to win, though the popular leader has said he isn’t interested.

On the Democratic side, Reid played the queenmaker, endorsing former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to succeed him. Just days following his March 27 retirement announcement, Reid was in Las Vegas, plotting her path to victory, saying he would put his formidable machine behind her.

“We are going to do everything we can,” Reid told the New York Times over a bowl of chicken soup, settling into his new role of political Godfather. “I have to make sure I take care of the person running for Senate in Nevada.”

Several potential contenders already have taken themselves out of the running, from Reid’s eldest son, Rory, to former U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who now runs Tuoro University in Nevada and California.harry reid

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said he would rather stay in the House, where he has served since 2011. But like Sandoval, the congressman likely will feel pressure from GOP leaders who want their best candidate in 2016’s hottest race after the presidency.

Meanwhile, Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, said he’s preparing for re-election and “leaning no” on a Senate run. U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., has said in the past that he’s not interested, although Reid’s retirement could change that. State Treasurer Dan Schwartz, a Republican, said he would consider running only if Sandoval and Heck do not.

Yet the list of Nevadans who could try to join Washington’s exclusive club of 100 remains fairly long. Reid’s retirement has shifted the electoral ground, prompting relative newcomers and political veterans alike to consider the possibilities. Here’s a report card on some of the potential contenders:

Go to DAVIDLORY.US. Nevada Senator 2016 David Lory VanDerBeek has been an amazing website and I’m grateful for all of the good that it has done and continues to do in the cause of freedom and the American dream. I’ll continue to maintain this website for the purposes of preserving the content for historical reference. However, the Internet website that will be my home for the remainder of my life as a political figure will be That is where I will be online. I invite you to go there and join me as I continue to campaign for the freedom of Nevada and America. My next campaign is US Senate 2016. God bless and thank you for all of your amazing support for



Money — A+: Cortez Masto should have no trouble filling Senate campaign coffers in a race that could exceed 2010’s highly competitive race in which both Reid and Republican Sharron Angle each raised and spent more than $25 million. Outside groups just about matched the candidates’ spending.

;) New mini NAG MASTO signs to placed all around the protest zone(s)

😉 New mini NAG MASTO signs to placed all around the protest zone(s)

On her own, Cortez Masto took in nearly $2.5 million for her elections in 2006 and 2010 and will have Reid as a rain­maker in 2016.

Since 2009, Reid has raised $23.6 million for his campaign committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Reid also helped land $46.7 million for the 2012 midterm elections for the Senate Democrats’ super PAC, Senate Majority PAC. Reid’s own campaign committee held $1.5 million as of Sept. 30.

Experience — B: Cortez Masto served eight years as attorney general after a career as a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., that gave her a taste of Capitol Hill.

Name Recognition — B: She’s held a high-profile statewide office for two terms and is a native Nevadan of Hispanic heritage. Her father, the late Manny Cortez, had a high profile in Southern Nevada as the longtime head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and was partly responsible for making the Strip a tourist mecca.

Liability/Asset — C: Cortez Masto hasn’t had a tough campaign and might not be ready for a rough-and-tumble Senate race. She declined to challenge Sandoval last year.


Money — B: Titus has never had trouble raising money. She raised about $1.1 million last year for a 1st Congressional District race that wasn’t very competitive. She raised nearly $2.6 million for the highly competitive 2010 campaign in the 3rd Congressional District, which she lost to Heck. For a Senate run she could expect a lot of support from outside groups such as Emily’s List.

Experience — B: Titus has survived the campaign crucible and runs strong. Even her losses in some of the state’s most competitive districts were close. In 2010 she lost to Heck by just 1,748 votes.

Name Recognition — B: Titus has been around Nevada politics for decades, including 20 years in the state Senate (1988-2008) where she rose to become minority leader. She also has a statewide profile, having run for governor and losing to Republican Jim Gibbons in 2006.

Liability/Asset — B: Titus, a native Georgian, has a thick Southern accent that can dissuade voters who favor native Nevadans. Strongly independent, she isn’t afraid to cross Reid and wouldn’t hesitate to challenge Cortez Masto if she thinks she can win. Titus in 2012 ran for the 1st Congressional District after Reid hand-picked state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, for the open seat. Kihuen dropped out before the primary.


Money — A+: Miller is a talented fundraiser who brought in $2.6 million for his failed 2014 attorney general campaign.

Experience — C: At age 30, Miller became the youngest Nevada secretary of state in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010. But he faced weak GOP challengers in both campaigns. In 2014, he lost his first truly competitive race to Adam Laxalt, a political newcomer who eked out a slim 4,750-vote victory, or 46.2 percent to 45.3 percent. Miller suffered in the low turnout race as Democrats stayed home, but his campaign also failed to turn voters against Laxalt.

Name Recognition — A: Miller held statewide office for eight years and boasts the highest social media profile among Nevada officials with nearly 17,500 Twitter followers. In addition, his father is Bob Miller, who was governor from 1989 to 1999.

Liability/Asset — C: Miller’s love of socializing proved his downfall against Laxalt. He reported accepting more than $70,000 in gifts while secretary of state, including tickets to sporting events such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship and football games where he sat in luxury skyboxes. Miller said some of the freebies were educational conferences. His opponents were able to exploit the gifts and question his ethics.


Money — C: Flores raised nearly $754,000 in her failed 2014 race for lieutenant governor — not nearly enough to keep up with Republican Mark Hutchison, who raised about $2.5 million to win.

Experience — C: Flores served two terms in the Assembly, but neither of those elections featured tough competition. In 2010 she took 82.16 percent of the vote in the general election. She swept up 73 percent of the vote in a three-way primary in 2012 but faced no general election opponent at all.

Name Recognition — C:Little known outside of Clark County, her weak showing last year was her first statewide campaign. It focused on her bio — former gang member and high-school dropout who had an abortion as a teen, then went on to graduate from law school and enter politics. Inspiring to many, her hard-luck tale might not play well in conservative rural Nevada.

Liability/Asset — C: Hispanics comprise nearly 30 percent of Nevada’s population and Flores had the Latino vote last year, but she had trouble reaching other demographic groups statewide. She’s considered a long shot for a Senate bid but a better candidate for the 4th Congressional District.


Money — C: Her secretary of state campaign raised $715,245 last year but spent $100,000 more.

Experience — D: Marshall won two terms as state treasurer but failed in a 2011 special election for the 2nd Congressional District and lost the secretary of state job last year.

Name Recognition — C: Few Nevadans can name the state treasurer, even one who served two terms.

Liability/Asset — C: Her high-pitched voice can be grating; she’s a two-time loser in her most recent elections.



Money — B: He raised $152,000 in 2013 for his Las Vegas City Council campaign and has shown he can get bigger bucks when needed, including more than $500,000 for one past state Senate bid.

Experience — B: Beers served in the Nevada Assembly and Senate from 1999 to 2008 but was washed away by the Democratic wave that swept Barack Obama into the White House. He rebounded in 2012, beating eight other contenders in a Las Vegas City Council special election with 37 percent of the vote. The following year voters gave him a landslide re-election, with 76 percent of the vote.

Name Recognition — C: He ran in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary but isn’t widely known outside Clark County.

Liability/Asset — B: Beers is the first candidate to announce he’s running for Reid’s seat, putting out the word and 55,000 pamphlets in January 2014. An accountant, he’s known for asking lots of questions before spending taxpayer money and was a leader of the Assembly’s “mean 15” which blocked a proposed $1 billion tax hike in 2003.


Money — A+: Running virtually un­opposed, Sandoval raised about $3.7 million for his 2014 re-election, plus $1.4 million for his New Nevada PAC helping other GOP candidates. He raised more than $5 million to easily defeat Rory Reid in 2010.

Experience — B: The governor has served in all three branches of government as a member of the Nevada Assembly, state attorney general and as a federal judge. He’s never faced a tough campaign.

Name Recognition —A: Not only is Sandoval widely known, he’s also popular. More than 60 percent of Nevadans say he does a good job. No credible Democrat would run against him last year, and his re-election was a 71-percent landslide. He’s also gaining popularity among Nevada Latinos, who lean Democrat. Latino Decisions said exit polls showed Sandoval got 47 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2014, up from 15 percent in 2010.

Liability/Asset — Incomplete: Sandoval insists he doesn’t want to run for the Senate but instead is focused on finishing his second four-year term, which runs through 2018. How Sandoval comes out of the Nevada Legislature could affect his political future: Will lawmakers approve his $7.3 billion spending plan that includes $1.1 billion in new and extended taxes to fund education? Is he as “unbeatable” as some insiders say? Stay tuned.


Money —A: Heck raised nearly $2.5 million for his 2014 campaign and spent less than $2 million. He would have no trouble raising big bucks for a Senate race from gaming interests and other major Nevada industries.

Experience — B: Heck has been able to hang on to his seat in the 3rd Congressional District for several elections, although it’s the state’s most competitive House district with an even Republican-Democrat split and independents leaning GOP. He’s also had a taste of defeat: In 2008 he lost his state Senate seat in a Democratic wave election that put President Barack Obama in office.

Name Recognition — C: Heck maintains a fairly low profile as a serious, workaday congressman, and he has never run a statewide race. That could put him at a disadvantage against someone with statewide campaign experience.

Liability/Asset — B: Heck’s promotion last year to brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve and past active duty as a doctor in Iraq make him an appealing candidate, particularly among Nevada’s large veteran population. But the moderate has come under fire from the left for voting with the conservative House caucus on hot-button issues such as immigration and equal pay. Heck said he’s staying put in the House, but 2016 could be his best chance to move up to the U.S. Senate.


Money — B: Krolicki hasn’t had a big-money race, although he raised $640,000 and spent $1.1 million in his first election for lieutenant governor in 2006. He raised about half that for his 2010 re-election.

Experience — B: He’s been around state government and GOP politics for a long time, serving two terms as state treasurer followed by two terms as lieutenant governor. He contemplated a run against Reid in 2010 but was sidelined by an ethics investigation that ultimately foundered.

Name Recognition — C: Krolicki has been on the statewide ballot four times, but remains relatively unknown.

Liability/Asset — D: His career took a hit with his 2008 indictment related to management of a college savings program while state treasurer. A judge later dismissed the felony charges, which Krolicki characterized as a partisan attack by then-Attorney General Cortez Masto.


Money — A: Hutchison showed he can raise money — lots of it — even for the low-profile post of lieutenant governor. He raised at least $2.5 million to win a part-time job that puts him in line to replace Sandoval, if need be.

Experience — B: A newcomer to politics, Hutchison resigned his state Senate seat midterm to run for lieutenant governor as Sandoval’s choice. The stakes were high, but Hutchison sailed into office with 59.5 percent of the vote.

Name Recognition — C: Hutchison’s campaign attracted a lot of attention and he crisscrossed the state several times, yet he remains relatively unknown.

Liability/Asset — B: Sandoval’s support is a big plus. An attorney, Hutchison represented Nevada for free in its challenge to Obamacare — work that made him popular among conservatives but could hurt him among Democrats.


Money — B: Roberson raised more than $600,000 last year toward his 2014 state Senate race, plus money for a PAC and other candidates, helping the GOP take control of the upper house.

Experience — C: His political career has taken off like a rocket since his first election to the state Senate in 2010. But the Senate majority leader never has been tested in a statewide race.

Name Recognition — C: His state Senate leadership gets his name out there, but his lack of a statewide run means he’s not that widely known. On the plus side, his base is Clark County, home to 75 percent of all Nevadans.

Liability/Asset — B: Roberson first ran as a strict conservative but has become a moderate over time. He’s now pushing for Sandoval’s $7.3 billion general fund budget and $1.1 billion package of new and extended taxes. This could hurt him in any GOP primary but help him during a general election. Insiders say family considerations and a desire to stay in the Legislature weigh against a U.S. Senate race, for now.


Money — A: Laxalt surprised many observers by raising more than $1.8 million in his first political campaign to score an upset over better-financed Ross Miller in last year’s attorney general race. He tapped conservatives in Washington, D.C., where his mother, Michelle Laxalt, was a widely known lobbyist. Acquaintances of his grandfather, former Nevada Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, also ponied up.

Experience — C: Laxalt was a Navy judge advocate general and a lawyer in a private practice in Las Vegas. But he has only lived in Nevada for a few years and has run just one campaign. He would be sorely tested in a high-stakes contest that could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Name Recognition — B: Laxalt’s family name helped him win support statewide. He also spent a lot of time traveling the dusty roads to reach every corner of Nevada last year.

Liability/Asset — C: During the campaign, an operative leaked a memo from a Laxalt job review at the private firm, Lewis Roca, where he worked. It said he had sloppy legal skills and was “a train wreck” as a lawyer. His campaign countered by releasing rave reviews he got in the military, including when he oversaw terrorism cases in Baghdad. Laxalt has suggested he wants to focus on his new job but hasn’t ruled out a Senate bid.

Contact Laura Myers at or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.

“New Nevada” No New Taxes Budget – Theresa Catalani on The Stealth Reporter

“We can live within our means”, Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (Dist 39), said with the introduction of a budget, the 4th one, that does not require a tax increase, or creation of a new Margins Tax. This is the only plan at the 2015 Nevada Legislature that does not require a two-thirds vote to pass.

The Stealth Reporter of Nevada covers issues at the Cities of Reno and Sparks, the Washoe County Commission, the Nevada Legislature and Governor, the Washoe County School District, Truckee Meadows Flood Control Authority, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, and the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. Visit

Governor Brian Sandoval not nearly highest-paid Nevada government employee, 2014 salary data reveal

By Michael Chamberlain | Watchdog Arena

What’s your tax money being spent on?

The Nevada Policy Research Institute helps to answer that question by publishing the salaries of public employees for government agencies throughout the state of Nevada. The think tank has added 2014 information to its, which provides a publicly-accessible database of public employee wage and benefit data in the Silver State.

Brian Sandoval with his bong

Brian Sandoval with his bong


SALARY SHOCK VALUE: Data on Nevada’s public employees shows many were paid more in 2014 than Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Among the information available from the 2014 data was that more than 2,000 public employees were paid more in total compensation than Nevada’s governor, Brian Sandoval. In fact, the governor was just the 3rd-highest paid Sandoval working for governments in the state of Nevada. His total pay and benefits of $184,195.25 was less than the $202,733.54 paid to Nicholas I. Sandoval, a fire engineer with the city of Las Vegas, and the $192,898.34 in total pay and benefits received by Hector A. Sandoval, an officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Government agencies in the Silver State paid more than 1,300 employees in excess of $200,000 in total wages and benefits. The state of Nevada spent more than $5 million on overtime in 2014 than the prior year, an increase of nearly 24 percent.

NPRI also revealed:

The State of Nevada is unlawfully redacting the names of the Inspector General, Medical Director, Park Supervisors, Park Rangers, as well as all law enforcement officials. The state is using an exemption lawmakers designed for undercover law enforcement personnel, whose safety could be jeopardized by disclosure.

moneyThe full magnitude on the taxpayers may not even be available as not every entity had responded to this year’s requests for data. In contrast to last year, when NPRI singled out Clark County for praise (along with the city of Reno) for “their friendly and timely responses to NPRI’s public records requests,” this year the think tank noted that Clark County (in addition to the city of Henderson) had failed so far to respond to NPRI’s requests for information.

Clark County includes some of the highest-paid public employees in the state. More than 200 Clark County employees received in excess of $200,000 in total compensation in 2013.

This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.

Democratic senator unveils alternative to Sandoval tax plan

taxCARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Pat Spearman has unveiled an alternative tax plan that she says would generate as much revenue as Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposal.

Spearman is sponsoring SB378, which was introduced Tuesday. She said she expects the bill will be discussed next week.

The bill would repeal the modified business tax, which Spearman says discourages hiring. It would impose a 0.5 percent tax on business gross receipts that exceed $25,000 in a quarter.

Spearman proposes the business license fee remain a flat $200 per year, while businesses that are incorporated in Nevada but don’t conduct trade in the state would pay $400.

Sandoval’s plan calls for a tiered business license fee ranging from $400 to $4 million annually.

Spearman said Nevadans deserve to choose from more than one tax plan.

From – Homeland Security Funding, Brian Sandoval More Fake News From The Media

brian-sandoval-bongFRED WEINBERG — MARCH 6, 2015

After watching the mainstream media breathlessly reporting the “funding crisis” of the Department of Homeland Security to viewers who they assume are too stupid to know the actual facts, I have a newsflash for Chuck Todd, Bob Scheiffer, Martha Radditz, and, yes, even Chris Wallace at Fox:

Outside Washington, DC, nobody cares.

Or, put another way, do you really think that if those overpaid blue-shirted clowns at the airports don’t get paid for a few weeks, the average American traveler who has been harassed by them many times since 9-11 is going to be holding a benefit concert?


The average American now knows that Federal employees make more than they do, have better job security, retire on more generous terms, and have better health insurance.

I’m pretty sure that the average American couldn’t care less that those very same people might have to wait a few weeks for their money while Congress and the President have a little pissing contest. It is probable that American Express won’t cancel their cards. Right now, the average American is far more worried about whether A-Rod will finish his career with the Yankees because for all the money A-Rod has made in his career, he has never harassed a grandmother at an airport.

So despite the hopes and dreams of the mainstream media that the American taxpayer will somehow turn against Republicans for daring not to fund the department unless the President actually does what he was ordered to do by a Federal Judge in Texas, it’s doubtful anybody outside DC really cares.

That being the case, let’s compare two Republican Governors: Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Brian Sandoval of Nevada (pictured above).

Walker—to the anguish of the aforementioned mainstream media—has morphed into a serious GOP Presidential contender.

People in Nevada—mostly those who have a habit of whistling through graveyards—keep hinting that Sandoval could be a candidate for the second spot on the 2016 ticket.

Were that true, it should be the end of the Republican Party.

Walker, in four years, made a blue state on the verge of financial default into a performer by a combination of reforms, cuts, and his willingness to take on powerful entrenched interests.

Sandoval, on the other hand, campaigned for a second term as Governor against, well, none of the above (we have that in Nevada)–and never mentioned that he wanted to throw an extra Billion-plus dollars into the state’s coffers with the largest tax increase in the state’s history.

For that, he waited until his state of the state (aptly abbreviated SOS) address.

And, our best guess is that while he won’t be the subject of a recall election—like the one which Walker beat back from the Wisconsin Teachers’ Unions—his tax plans are dead on arrival; and his ability to lead is pretty much history as well.

And that’s what the GOP needs in Washington?

The media would love to see a Sandoval candidacy nationally. It would ensure a Democrat victory.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by


School construction exempted from Nevada’s prevailing wage law

CARSON CITY— Wasting no time, Gov. Brian Sandoval on Friday signed into law a bill exempting school construction projects from Nevada’s prevailing wage law.

The bill saw final approval in the Assembly only on Thursday.

“Children across Nevada need more schools now, and our education system has limited resources to build them,” he said in a statement. “This narrowly tailored, extraordinary measure will allow school districts to stretch these limited resources as far as possible to meet an immediate need.”

The bill was sought by Republicans as part of a school bond rollover bill passed in a bipartisan vote by lawmakers this week. That bill, Senate Bill 207, was signed into law by Sandoval on Wednesday.

Controversial school construction bill clears Assembly, heads to governor

CARSON CITY — A bill that would exempt school and university construction projects from Nevada’s prevailing wage law passed the Assembly on Thursday on a narrow 23-19 vote.

Senate Bill 119 will now go to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his signature.

Passage of the bill is the second major legislative victory for Sandoval in two days. He quickly signed a school bond rollover bill into law on Wednesday after it won final approval in a bipartisan vote in the Assembly.

SB119 still includes the identical provisions authorizing the bond rollover program for Nevada’s school districts but the provisions are moot with Senate Bill 207 being signed into law. With SB119 now dealing only with the prevailing wage exemption issue, it mustered enough Republican votes to pass. All 17 Democrats opposed the bill. Two Republicans, Ira Hansen of Sparks and Glenn Trowbridge of Las Vegas, also voted no.

Removing public works projects from prevailing wage requirements has long been a priority for Republicans, who argue the law inflates costs to taxpayers and is not reflective of private-sector market rates. Supporters argue that more schools will be built with the exemption from the law.

Democrats and union supporters countered that prevailing wages ensure quality construction and argue that there is no evidence they add substantially to project costs. They also said it would hurt the middle class and Nevada’s building trades, which lost tens of thousands of jobs during the Great Recession.

Nevada’s prevailing wage law requires contractors who win publicly financed construction projects to pay workers according to a wage schedule established by the state’s labor commissioner. The original purpose of the law was to require local wage rates to be paid on public projects so that out-of-state competitors could not come in and undercut the local labor pool.

There is debate about how much will be saved on the school projects without requiring the prevailing wage.

But Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said in previous testimony that even if it is only 5 percent, the exemption would mean $175 million more in construction projects in Clark County alone over the 10-year life of the rollover based on nearly $3.6 billion in bonding capacity. This savings would equal about six new elementary schools.

Democrats argued against passage.

Assembly Minority Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said the bill will cut wages for the middle class. There is nothing in the bill that protects Nevada workers, she said.

“It will cut wages on people who have been out of work for over five years in our state,” Kirkpatrick said. “So middle-class workers will take it on the chin.”

But Assemblyman Brent Jones, R-Las Vegas, said the bill will stretch precious tax dollars.

“Now we can apply free-market principles to the building of our schools,” he said.

Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Minden, said the hard hit construction industry does need assistance. Building more schools will help those construction workers, he said. But there will also be further efforts by lawmakers to help Nevadans win the construction projects, Wheeler said.

“And we’re going to protect Nevada taxpayers,” he said.

Did you know that Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed not one, but two multi-billion dollar tax increases over the next 10 years?


Did you know that Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed not one, but two multi-billion dollar tax increases over the next 10 years?

The first one you know about. It consists of the making the sunset taxes permanent, creating a modified version of the margin tax and raising cigarette and slot taxes.

The second one you may not know about – but it’s coming up to a vote next Monday on the Senate floor. You may even think the bill – SB119 – is a something conservatives should support, because the bill contains a repeal of prevailing wage requirements for school construction.

While repealing prevailing wage requirements is a very good thing and would save taxpayers 10 to 15 percent on construction costs, accompanying that repeal is a massive property tax increase. SB119 would authorize school boards around the state to conduct ten additional years of bonding – meaning taxpayers would be on the hook for an additional 30 years of debt – without needing a vote of the people.

This would cost taxpayers, specifically in Clark and Washoe County, between $3 to 4 billion, before including billions in interest costs.

Both the Clark and Washoe County School Boards are desperate for the legislature to approve this, because voters in those counties have specifically rejected similar property tax increases within the last three years.

So while eliminating the prevailing wage is a huge positive, the primary savings would come from spending new tax dollars more efficiently, not more efficiently spending the tax dollars we currently pay.

Now advocates of the bill may claim it’s a compromise, because liberals are fighting the removal of the prevailing wage requirement tooth and nail.

But since removal of the prevailing wage will save 10 to 15 percent in construction costs, a compromise would be eliminating prevailing wage requirements in exchange for authorizing one additional year of bonding. This would give voters a chance to decide in 2016 if they want to further raise their property taxes to pay for more school construction.

Having ten parts tax increase with one part savings isn’t a compromise, it’s a rip-off. Without changes, SB119 would be one of the largest tax increases in Nevada history.

Sandoval vs. Reid 2016?

dean hellerSen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is a vice-chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee.

Part of his duties with the NRSC is finding the best Republican candidate he can to run against Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Las Vegas in the 2016 election cycle.

Reid and Heller work together on many bills for Nevada but in politics, they are commanders in opposing armies.

“It’s all business,” Heller said.brian-sandoval-bong

When asked if the NRSC thinks Gov. Brian Sandoval would be the candidate with the best chance of beating Reid, Heller said:

“He is our ‘A-plus’ candidate, let me say that. He is our ‘A-plus’ candidate.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t have ‘A’ candidates and ‘B’ candidates out there,” Heller said. “But there is no doubt, Gov. Sandoval is our ‘A-plus’ candidate.”

Heller’s comments came during a taping of the Nevada Newsmakers TV program on Thursday.

The interview with Heller, which takes up the entire show, is scheduled to be shown Monday at 11:30 a.m. on KRNV-News 4.

Heller was all in with Sandoval running against Reid.

“Whether or not he decides to run, obviously, at the end of the day, that is up to him,” Heller said. “But boy, I’d love to see him run and truly believe that he would be the premier candidate.”

Heller said GOP groups are actively recruiting Sandoval to run. Sandoval has swatted away any speculation from the media about running against Reid, often saying things like, “I am focused on my job” and “I enjoy being governor.”

Said Heller: “Oh, I have no doubt that there are groups out there trying to sit down with him (Sandoval) to convince him that this would be a good move – from (U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell himself to every other group.”

Heller mentioned three other possibilities for run against Reid, including current state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and in somewhat of a surprise — former Assembly Minority Leader and Sandoval’s former Chief of Staff, Heidi Gansert of Reno.

“There are a number of candidates that are expressing interest,” Heller said. “Heidi Gansert is another one who I believe is an ‘A’ candidate. We’ll see if former Lt. Gov. Krolicki wants to run. We are not at a loss for candidates. We have a great bench on our (GOP) side, compared to what the Democrats have here today in the state of Nevada.”

Heller talked at length about Roberson. I asked Roberson about running for the U.S. Senate last week, prior to the Heller interview, and he said, “I am focused on the present. I am focused on the job that I’m tasked with right now.”

Heller, however, said Roberson is interested.

“He is another good candidate,” Heller said about Roberson. “I may get a chance to talk to him in a few weeks. I know he has an interest. He wants to get through this Legislature first and I understand that because there are a lot of ups and downs that are going to happen in the next 100 days.”

Yet Roberson would be second-fiddle if the choice was between him or Sandoval, Heller seemed to say.

“But needless to say, I think he (Roberson) is an ‘A’ candidate,” Heller said. “And I think Roberson would agree with me that the governor is the ‘A-plus’ candidate.”

APPARENTLY THERE IS little outrage about Nevada’s 1st U.S. House District Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, wanting to move the Veterans Administration’s Regional Office from Reno to Las Vegas.

Titus said in a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald that an office in Las Vegas would stand a better chance of recruiting the VA’s most talented workers and administrators that are needed to boost the performance of the under-achieving regional office if it were moved to Las Vegas.

“First of all, I really don’t care,” Heller said. “I’m agnostic to where this office is. I want a good office and it (Reno office) is one of the worst performing – if not the worst-performing regional office – in the country.

“If we can fix the backlog (of health-related claims) and if fixing the backlog means that we have to move that office from Reno to Las Vegas, it really doesn’t matter to me,” Heller said. “I just want a regional office that works for veterans here in this state.’

Heller then noted a glaring truth about where most of Nevada’s 300,000 vets live.

“Let’s not kid ourselves,” Heller said. “Most of the veterans we have in this state are in Las Vegas.”

SANDOVAL’S A HISTORY BUFF, so he’ll like this:

The great-grandfather of Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Yerington, and Nevada’s first elected governor, Henry G. Blasdel, were partners in a mining venture back in the day.

Blasdel later gave Titus’ great-grandfather his inkwell and pen. It’s now a family heirloom. If Titus’ bill to make the square dance the official state dance of Nevada passes the Legislature, Titus would like something added to the signing ceremony.

“If this (square-dance bill) comes to fruition, I’m going to ask Gov. Sandoval to sign this bill with Gov. Blasdel’s ink pen,” Titus said.

EWAN GREGORY, 94, might be the oldest person I’ve interviewed at the Legislature. She was in Carson City Wednesday as a square-dancer in support of the square dancing bill.

She has the pick of field of gentlemen dancers when she’s out dancing.

“I don’t have a partner but I have my share of dancing,” Gregory said.

Another one of the square dancers in the building that day was Joye Angle-Kincade, daughter of former Assemblywoman and GOP U.S. Senate nominee Sharron Angle.

Jim Clark: Is Brian Sandoval drinking the Democratic Kool-Aid?

brian-sandoval-bongAre you tired and disgusted with the partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C.? Cheer up. Take a look at what’s been going on in some Republican governed states.

Gov. Jeb Bush turned around Florida’s failing K-12 education system by establishing liberal charter school legislation, a tax credit scholarship program for poor minority children, and virtual and distance learning systems while simultaneously eliminating a hated tax on investments.

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels turned an $800 million deficit into a $500 million surplus and $2 billion in reserves without raising taxes. He ended collective bargaining for state employees, privatized the state’s toll roads and created the largest school choice program in the country.

Gov. Bobby Jindal inherited Louisiana’s long history of corruption and brought in a comprehensive system of ethics reform. He improved education in New Orleans by converting every failing school into a charter school. Finally, he turned a $341 million budget shortfall into a surplus even after lowering taxes by $1.1 billion.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie capped property taxes at 2 percent, enacted public employee pension and health benefit reforms, balanced four budgets without raising taxes, and in fact cut taxes by $2.35 billion.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez turned her state’s budget around from a $450 million deficit into a $200 million surplus.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder reversed a $1.5 billion deficit while at the same time lowering personal income taxes and eliminating the state’s business tax.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker took on public employee unions, eliminating collective bargaining and reforming costly pension/health benefits, and he turned a $3.6 billion deficit into a $1 billion surplus. Equally important, by eliminating inefficiencies imposed by public employee unions Wisconsin’s school districts are solvent.

The common thread running through these success vignettes is a reform of collective bargaining laws and reigning in of public employee unions which have produced a work force that is almost exactly contrary to what it takes to run any kind of enterprise.

Pay, benefits and job security based on seniority instead of merit creates a top-heavy inefficient labor pool that demands more and more taxpayer money as its productivity wanes.

Here in Nevada, we have that problem in spades. Gov. Brian Sandoval wants to fix the problem by following the path blazed by his peer GOP governors, enacting education and government employee reforms but, unlike his Republican brethren, he wants to raise taxes by almost 20 percent to pay for the reforms. Has he been drinking the Democratic Kool-Aid?

Tax opponent Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore (R-Las Vegas) has a kinder, gentler explanation. She told an overflow crowd at the Reno Republican Men’s Club last month that the governor created his budget before the election when casinos would give no better than even odds that the GOP would win back the senate and the odds of capturing the assembly were impossible; he therefore prepared a budget designed to attract Democratic support.

Indeed, items like a $30 million allocation for all day kindergarten, $73 million for autism and state-paid preschool appeal to liberals even though experts assert that they do not result in lasting improvement in student achievement.

So maybe Gov. Sandoval has come up with a “make everybody happy” budget and is prepared to have some of his wish list trimmed.

One other factor. Nevada’s financial forum, experts who forecast state revenues, meets first in December prior to the legislative session, and again in May, right before adjournment.

The final budget cannot be higher that their forecast without also raising taxes. The December estimate was $6.3 billion. The May estimate may be higher if the economy improves.

So there are a lot of moving parts. Let’s see what the legislature and the governor grind out.

Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at

Look Out Nevadans, Here Comes the “Gruber Tax”!

taxPosted by on Jan 14th, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be surprised one iota if Jonathan Gruber himself hasn’t been hired to craft the propaganda campaign that’s underway to pass Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s (R&R-Advertising) 2015-17 budget.

You remember Mr. Gruber, don’t you? He’s the guy who got caught on tape saying, as described by Wikipedia, that ObamaCare “was misleadingly crafted and/or marketed in order to get the bill passed, while in some of the videos he specifically refers to American voters as ill-informed or ‘stupid.’”

Look out, Nevadans, you’re being Gruberized!

Here are the facts. In 2009, the Nevada Legislature – more accurately, Democrats and liberal Republicans in the Legislature – passed a package of what was sold to voters as a “temporary” tax hike designed so that our state government could avoid the necessary streamlining of operations, including layoffs, that American business owners were being forced into thanks to the Great Obama-Reid Recession.

That package of “temporary” tax hikes – including a sales tax hike, a hike in vehicle registration fees, a doubling of the business license fee, and an outrageously insane tax penalty on businesses for every person they hire – was vetoed by conservative Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Tax-hiking legislators passed what would become known as the “sunsets” over the governor’s veto.

Brian Sandoval, a legislative back-bencher in the mid-1990’s, then ran against Gibbons in the 2010 GOP primary and defeated him. Not by promising to continue the sunsets beyond their 2011 expiration date. But by pledging, in no uncertain terms, that he would let them die.

He was elected.

And then promptly broke his word.

He broke it again in 2013, building the sunsets into his budget and forcing them through with support from go-along-to-get-along Republican legislators such as Sen. Moderate Mike Roberson, who was against the sunsets before he was for them.

Well, it’s déjà vu all over again this year. The governor is proposing yet another massive $600 million-plus worth of higher taxes on Nevadans through yet another extension of those “temporary” tax hikes that are proving harder to kill than a meth-head vampire.

But this time, there’s a kicker!

In addition to once again extending the sunsets, the governor will also reportedly propose an additional $400 million-plus gross receipts tax on certain Nevada businesses. The same kind of gross receipts tax that Nevada voters overwhelmingly rejected at the ballot just two months ago by nearly 80 percent!

Of course, Sandoval’s new-and-improved version will be lemon-scented, but it’s still going to require the same level of deception and dishonesty Gruber used to sell ObamaCare. That’s why the tax hike is already being misleadingly marketed as for “education.” It’s “for the children,” you see.

The question is whether or not Nevadans and their elected legislators will be “ill-informed” and “stupid” enough to fall for it.



The 78th session of the Nevada Legislature is underway. Your representatives have convened in Carson City to adopt a budget and set the priorities for the Silver State in education, health care, transportation and many other areas that affect your daily life. More importantly, they gather with a generational opportunity to build a new Nevada that provides a strong future for you, your children and the generations to come.

This moment requires us to be responsible and bold. Leaders can no longer try to just get by for another two years and pass the buck to the next Legislature, governor or generation. It’s time to be honest with you and have a frank conversation about Nevada’s outdated revenue structure, our struggling schools and a plan for the future.

I presented my vision for a new Nevada in my State of the State address. I proposed unprecedented improvements and reforms to our education system, adjustments to our decades-old revenue structure, and a plan to prepare Nevada for a new economy based on technology and innovation, while also preserving our robust gaming, mining and agricultural industries.

It came as no surprise that my plan has drawn criticism. Some people are unhappy with my support of reform and accountability measures to adjust collective bargaining and construction defect litigation. However, I want to ensure that your taxpayer dollars are well-spent and that our justice system is fair.

Others don’t like my proposals to modernize our tax system and ask for new revenue from the business community. However, the realities of our budget situation are squarely before us. Unlike the federal government, Nevada must balance its budget.

Budgeting for the past four years has, to say the least, been difficult. Because of dire economic conditions, we cut state employee pay and benefits, closed state museums and parks, drained the state’s “rainy day” fund, reduced the state workforce, consolidated state agencies, swept local government accounts, decreased funding to our schools and universities, reduced payments to medical providers, relied on credit facilities and received prepayment of mining taxes.

Even now, the current budget proposal reduced state agency requests by $700 million. Also, in the last year, revenue collections are $150 million below what was projected because mining and gaming revenue is significantly less than expected and school enrollment is far beyond expectations.

Throughout all of this, we have endured, diversified and improved. However, we still must come to grips with the fact that our current revenue structure does not keep pace with growth and is rooted in the Nevada economy of 50 years ago. That is why I have proposed a new graduated business license fee that is broad, fair and simple.

Some have said that my proposal is the same as Question 3, “The Education Initiative,” which was rejected by voters last year. It is not. My proposal sets a rate that is much lower, it differentiates between businesses and it raises about $250 million per year, while Question 3 would have raised triple that amount or more.

These new funds will modernize our revenue system. More importantly, it will strengthen our schools by improving our worst-in-the-nation graduation rates, ensure that young students read at grade level by third grade and provide new resources for gifted and talented students.

We know that the status quo will not improve student achievement or prepare our children for the jobs and economy of the future. Reliance on old and obsolete education systems will also discourage new companies from expanding to Nevada and inhibit our ability to diversify our economy.

There is good news. Nevada is on the move again. We’ve added almost 100,000 new jobs in four years, we are the second-fastest growing state in the nation and we are attracting new, cutting edge companies that are leaders in new innovations in technology, aviation and advanced manufacturing. In other words, we are ready to lead.

But to lead, we must improve our education system and universities, modernize our revenue structure and prepare ourselves and the next generation of Nevadans for the future. This requires courage, sacrifice and tough decisions — from all of us.

I pledge to work with you, the business community and the Legislature to prepare us for the new global economy and a new Nevada where we give our children a world-class education, have a healthy citizenry, develop a sustainable and vibrant economy, provide safe and livable communities and build an efficient and responsive state government.

You deserve nothing less.

Brian Sandoval, a Republican, is governor of Nevada

Brian Sandoval’s Billion-Dollar Somersault The Nevada governor vowed no new taxes as he campaigned. But that’s so yesterday

While Republican governors across the country are proposing tax cuts, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is seeking to impose the largest tax hike in his state’s history. The 51-year-old governor—a former state attorney general, federal judge, and the first Hispanic elected to statewide office in Nevada—has been among the GOP’s rising stars. Some politicos have even floated Mr. Sandoval as a potential vice presidential pick, or a challenger to Harry Reid in 2016.

But Mr. Sandoval’s stand on taxes brings to mind Florida’s Republican Gov. Charlie Crist , who sold out to the teachers union by vetoing a school-reform bill in order to enhance his political stature with the goal of running for Senate in 2010. He didn’t make it to the Senate and was defeated by Rick Scott when he tried to return to Tallahassee as governor last year.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

Mr. Sandoval rode into office in 2010 on a no-tax pledge, promising to phase out supposedly temporary sales and business tax increases that the state’s then Democratic legislature imposed over the veto of Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons in 2009. (Nevada does not have an income tax).

Mr. Sandoval kept his promise until the Nevada Supreme Court in May 2011 blocked the state’s plan to raid local government reserves. Thereafter he backed a two-year extension of the sales- and business-tax hikes—and a year later he expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Despite rebounding sales- and gambling-tax revenues—about half of Nevada’s general fund—Mr. Sandoval pushed in 2012 for another two-year tax extension, to pay for rising Medicaid expenses and prevent cuts to K-12 education. In 2013, Republican moderates joined Democrats to extend the tax increases through June 2015.

To ward off a serious primary challenge in his bid for re-election in 2014, Mr. Sandoval steered right. His campaign website boasted that he had increased spending on education by “$486 million over the last two years—without raising taxes” and promised “more education funding” with “no new taxes” if re-elected. He promoted a tax credit for businesses that contribute to private-school scholarship funds.

Mr. Sandoval also vigorously opposed a referendum backed by the teachers union to create a new business “margin tax,” based on gross receipts, to fund schools. “The proponents of new taxes, like any good marketer, ignore what’s unpopular about the product,” he declared in a March 2014 speech. “Instead, they point to the alleged benefits of the tax, rarely mentioning the costs.”

Nearly 80% of Nevadans voted down the teachers-union referendum in November as Mr. Sandoval crushed the weak Democratic challenger, Bob Goodman, taking 70% of the vote. The governor claimed credit for sweeping unexpected GOP majorities into both chambers of the legislature that gave Republicans unilateral control of state government for the first time since 1929.

But once he was safely re-elected governor, Mr. Sandoval in January pitched a third extension of the sales- and business-tax increases—and an increase in another tax, a graduated business license fee. Under his proposal, the current business license fee would vary by industry and be based on gross receipts. Most small businesses grossing less than $250,000 would pay about $400, double what they do now. But a real-estate firm earning $8.5 million would owe $24,231 while a farmer making the same amount would be dinned $6,106.

Nevada boasts a relatively business-friendly climate due to the absence of a personal and corporate income tax. However, its tax code is complicated, narrowly-based and heavily dependent on tourism and gambling. The governor claims that his “hybrid tax model” is the “least complicated” way to raise revenues and that it borrows “the best attributes from a true gross receipts tax, a margins tax and a business license-fee structure.” The Nevada Policy Research Institute, a free-market nonprofit, says the plan is unnecessarily complicated and resembles the margin tax that voters rejected in November.

The governor wants to dump most of the $1.1 billion in projected revenues raised from his proposal into education, including new, unproven programs for failing schools. His proposal to create “Victory Schools” aims to improve student learning by providing more “family engagement” and “professional development.” Then there’s the new Safe and Respectful Schools Office, whose mission is to prevent cyberbullying. Notably absent from his budget are any tax credits for private-school scholarships.

Democrats are cheering. “I never imagined the day when a Republican governor would be proposing things I’d been fighting for all this time,” said state Sen. Mo Denis of Las Vegas. Republicans legislators appear to be lukewarm. While the Senate majority leader has shown cautious support, many Assembly Members are outright opposed. Conservative activists have threatened to recall members who vote for a tax increase.

That means Mr. Sandoval will need to win nearly unanimous support from Democratic lawmakers in both chambers. This could require him to abandon second-term policy objectives such as public union collective-bargaining reform. By becoming a champion of higher taxes, the governor has drawn applause from liberal media and boosted his bona fides as a so-called common-sense, compassionate conservative. Many a Republican has taken this easy middle road. But few have gotten very far on it.

Ms. Finley is an editorial writer for the Journal.

Two Things You Need To Know About Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval: He’s Arrogant And Not Very Smart I should know, as he’s my governor

sandovalAuthor’s note: As many people who read this space regularly know, I live in the state Harry Reid abandoned many years ago for a condominium at the Ritz Carlton in Washington DC. Many times, you will see a gap between my columns in a national forum. That is because I have written a primarily Nevada-oriented piece that is not of general interest (vacations are for sissies). Last week, Nevada’s biennial legislative session opened; and most of what I would normally have written would not concern anyone outside our borders. Except that the folks in DC seem to think our RINO Governor represents the future of the Republican Party. So, adding this note of explanation, I have sent this normally state piece out so you can see what a weasel Brian Sandoval actually is.

I’ve had just about a sackful of this arrogant, failed federal judge we now call Governor Brian Sandoval in Nevada.

Last week, after a state of the state address where he most notably told the taxpayers that we were too stupid to elect our own school boards, he released a probably illegal plan to raise about a billion dollars over two years; and then, faced with the blowback, the arrogant dolt went to the editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper and did a pretty fair imitation of Barack Obama—considering he claims to be a Republican.

He told the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review Journal that if the Legislature didn’t acquiesce to that tax increase, then there could be as much as a 20% across-the-board budget cut.

It would seem possible that the Governor is a product of those schools he says are failing. However, the truth is that he went to a pricy private school in Reno. Nonetheless, he asked for a 12% increase in spending. Failing that, he’s talking about 20% cuts. Hell, even his pet mainstream media hacks are smarter than that.

“If you’re not going to continue the sunsets (taxes) and you’re not going to do what I’m proposing, it will be devastating,” Sandoval told the Review-Journal editorial board as he pimped for his $1.15 billion plan to extend taxes and raise business license fees. “It will devastate the university system. It will devastate K-through-12.”

So now we come to the issue of his proposed increase in the business license fees (based on gross revenue).

The problem here is that any business that is either involved in interstate commerce or is otherwise subject to federal preemption can’t be licensed unless there is a compelling state interest—you know, like life, health, or safety. By the time you get done backing those businesses out of the fee increase and factor in the massive costs of inevitable litigation and the time it will take, you are left with a “fee” that discriminates against intrastate (read that: Nevada) businesses and won’t bring in nearly the kind of money the former federal judge says it will.

Further, in determining just the question of who is involved in interstate commerce, the case law casts a very wide net.

First year pre-law students study a 1942 case titled Wickard v. Filburn. In an effort to increase wheat prices during the Great Depression, Congress passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, which limited the amount of wheat that individual farmers could grow for sale into the market. By limiting the amount of wheat in the general market, Congress hoped to cut supply and, ultimately, increase prices. Roscoe Filburn, of Ohio, decided to grow more wheat, arguing that he did not plan to sell it, but rather consume it on his own farm. Claude Wickard, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, brought suit against Filburn, arguing that he could not grow more wheat than the law allowed. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wickard, explaining that even though Filburn was growing the extra wheat for private consumption, his excess wheat crop would decrease the amount of wheat that he would otherwise be buying off the market. Because wheat was sold across the country, it was a national product; and the Court ruled that Filburn’s actions would affect interstate commerce.

Like it or not—like Roe v. Wade—that’s the law.

Now, presumably, back when he was going to THE Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law in the late 1980’s, former Federal Judge Brian Sandoval came across this and other cases explaining the commerce clause in the Constitution and the case law which implements that clause. Perhaps he wasn’t paying attention that day, but I sure was when I took Constitutional Law 101 at Bradley University in 1973 and when I have covered four or five such licensing disputes which have ended up in court since then.

And that’s only one reason for Federal preemption.

Take publications and web sites—a huge new business category. Do you really think that any federal judge—especially given the Citizens’ United decision—would rule that a publication which refuses to pay for a state or local business license could be shut down? Seriously, Judge (Governor) Sandoval?

Broadcasters are exclusively regulated by the Federal Government. There’s a whole lot more gross revenue going without fees being assessed.

Do I need to keep going?

In fact, a Federal suit seeking declaratory judgment might upend most local licensing schemes in Nevada. (I’m not a lawyer, but I can play one on the radio.)

Worse (for the Guv, not the taxpayers), courts have repeatedly ruled that licenses do not exist to raise money–so that even if the state could find a compelling interest, they can only reasonably charge for the license what it costs to regulate the business in question. That makes it difficult to have a license fee based on gross revenue.

I know that the Governor’s minions do not brook this sort of criticism. They can go pound sand.

I’m not prepared to be told that mere taxpayers are a) too stupid to elect their local school boards, and then b) they have to shell out more than a half a billion dollars a year because this guy can’t figure out that more money does not buy more education. It never has, and it never will.

He can throw his Barack Obama-like tantrums all he wants, and all I see is a failed federal judge masquerading as a Republican Governor who truly has little or no understanding of reality. If we were to replace Harry Reid with him, it would be a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Stop the “SandovalTax”

Governor Brian Sandoval wants to tax you more.


Governor Sandoval wants a new fine on businesses that do good–the better a business does, the more they have to pay for a business license.  The businesses pass this cost onto the consumers, YOU.  And when you pay for that product or service, not only does it cost you more, the higher cost results in more sales tax paid.  It’s a lose-lose situation for tax papers and win-win for politicians who can’t budget.

Call or email your Legislature, Mrs Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D)  775-247-7665  –   and tell her “NO on the SandovalTax.”  She has a track record of blowing off voters’ phone calls.  If she doesn’t return your call or email, don’t vote for her again.  She’s too busy with her four babies, and a fifth baby on the way, too busy to bother with voters like you.

Republicans Schwartz, Knecht propose alternative budget to Gov. Brian Sandoval

moneyA week after Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt broke rank with GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval in joining an immigration lawsuit aimed at the federal government, more of the state’s top Republicans are turning away from the governor.

State Treasurer Dan Schwartz and Controller Ron Knecht released a three-page document Wednesday outlining an alternative spending plan after calling Sandoval’s proposed $7.3 billion budget an overreach that unduly increases taxes and focuses too much on education.

Although there’s nothing in Nevada law giving the treasurer the ability to create a budget, Schwartz said he and Knecht were approached to create an alternative by a group of Assembly and Senate Republicans upset with the governor’s proposed $1.1 billion in tax increases and extensions.

Schwartz said he felt it was appropriate because he’s the state’s top fiscal officer.

“We’re the two elected officials who have some financial responsibility in the state,” he said. “There was a belief or feeling that we were in the best position to do that.”

Former Treasurer Kate Marshall said she wasn’t aware of any previous alternative budgets being proposed outside of the governor’s office and the office historically has been mostly neutral in tax policy.

“I think you undermine what the treasurer does when you begin to participate in a kind of partisan role in respect to the numbers,” she said.

The alternative $6.8 billion budget proposal calls for tax increases on airline passengers and gambling, and would cut $20 million from various state agencies.

Schwartz said he and Knecht will meet Monday with a group of Republican lawmakers, including a member of Assembly leadership, to discuss putting the budget proposal into bill drafts.

Schwartz criticized Sandoval’s budget proposal, calling the governor’s plan to increase funding to programs like autism therapy and anti-bullying measures wasteful.

“What education needs is teachers, not social workers,” he said.

Calls to the governor’s office Wednesday were not immediately returned.

Sandoval proposed an ambitious $7.3 billion two-year budget that would inject millions of dollars into K-12 education, including programs for English Language Learners, children in poverty, gifted students and children with disabilities.

The popular Republican governor proposed a number of tax increases to pay for the expanded funding, including restructuring the business license fee to bring in $437 million over two years.


GOP stalls in effort to oust Reid

harry reid one eyed bandit

Senate Republicans are unlikely to land their most formidable recruit to take down Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

brian-sandoval-bongWith Gov. Brian Sandoval delaying any decision until summer, his indecision is costing Republicans precious time in their quest to oust the party’s biggest target in 2016.

The popular governor is at the top of wish lists for Nevada and Washington Republicans, but he has suggested he won’t run. Still, Sandoval is unlikely to make a final announcement until after the state’s legislative session concludes.
That has frozen the field for other GOP hopefuls and left national Republicans in a holding pattern.

Sandoval has said he wants to focus on his legislative agenda, one that includes tax increases that has angered the GOP base as much as it has Democrats, and he has all but ruled out a bid.

“Do you really think, if this is my last session as governor, I would propose the things that I proposed last night, thinking I might be on a ballot?” Sandoval asked influential Nevada journalist Jon Ralston in a recent interview.

When pressed by Ralston, Sandoval repeatedly refused to declare that he definitely wouldn’t run. But those close to him say he is focused on getting things done in Nevada and has no desire to commute to Washington to work in a body that has been largely dysfunctional for the past decade.

“The governor is completely focused on the legislative session. I think that will be done before he gives a final decision,” said one Nevada Republican familiar with Sandoval’s thinking. “I don’t think he’s going to run, but I also don’t think he’s ready to say ‘no’ yet.”

Republicans say current Lieutenant Gov. Mark Hutchison and former Lieutenant Gov. Brian Krolicki are both interested in running but won’t make any moves until they’re sure Sandoval is out. The same goes for Nevada state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson (R) and a half-dozen other potential candidates.

“I don’t think Sandoval is going to make a Shermanesque statement until after the session. But he’s showing no interest in running. Something really strange would have to happen for him to run,” Ralston told The Hill. “We won’t know much until the summer.”

Reid’s poll numbers have been underwater in recent surveys, and if Sandoval runs, the governor would likely start out as the favorite.

Republicans still think they can beat the incumbent senator without Sandoval, but they’ll have to nominate a candidate acceptable to swing voters. Most importantly, they need to avoid a costly primary that could produce a flawed candidate like Reid’s 2010 opponent, Tea Partyer Sharron Angle.

However, the entire race could be shaken up if Reid reverses course on running for reelection.

The 75 year-old Democratic leader suffered a bad fall while exercising over the holidays and had to miss work to have one surgery — with another expected — to try to save his eye.

The senator further stirred questions about his commitment to a sixth term in his first press conference after returning, when he made comments that some read as less than definitive.

“I plan to run,” he told reporters in late January. “My staff has continued to review my new campaign. We have quite an operation.”

Reid and his staff have since insisted unequivocally that he’ll be on the ballot in 2016.

“Sen. Reid is running for reelection, period,” said Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman.

But his injuries have some close to the senator, a former boxer known for his toughness, worried that there’s a chance that he might not run again.

“The conversations [with Reid staff] both internally and externally are all the same: that he’s running. The official line to friends and family is it’s full steam ahead,” one source close to Reid’s political operation told The Hill. “But in my gut, I’m not sure he does.”

Reid already has much of his campaign team in place. Many of the people who ran his potent field operation in 2010 never left Nevada, staying in the state to help President Obama in 2012 and continuing to work for the state party.

His fundraising operation never stopped churning either. Reid has already been raising cash this year and had close to $1.5 million in the bank at the end of 2014.

Those close to Reid admit that hiring for the rest of his staff has slowed down due to his injury. He had to cancel some candidate interviews for campaign manager and other positions during his recovery.

When he dislocated his shoulder and bruised his face during fall while jogging in 2011, he returned to work the same day. That he missed as much work as he did shows how much pain he was in.

“When he got hurt, everything was kind of put on hold. Reid couldn’t meet with potential staff; he was down for a while. There hasn’t been an update in two weeks or so because of that,” the source close to Reid’s team said of the difference in injuries. “This time, the man was out for weeks. He was in an excruciating amount of pain.”


When Members of the Same Party Face Off Sandoval-Laxalt skirmish brings to mind other examples of infighting between same-party Nevada politicians

laxalt vs sandovalBy Michael Green

Democrats and connoisseurs of the theater of political absurdity have enjoyed the recent tiff (if you could call it that) between Gov. Brian Sandoval and the attorney general for whom he so cheerfully campaigned. The gist of the spat: Adam Laxalt decided to join a lawsuit with other state attorneys general challenging President Barack Obama’s executive order halting the deportation of some illegal immigrants—except that Laxalt didn’t clear the move with Sandoval beforehand.

Let’s set aside that Laxalt may well owe Sandoval his election; that Laxalt had claimed he wouldn’t sandbag Sandoval in this way; that Sandoval was once this state’s attorney general and a federal judge who may know something about this subject; and that the national GOP has tapped Sandoval to join Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico as part of a national outreach effort to the Hispanic community (a community that might have an opinion or two on the issue of deportation).

Instead, let’s consider history.

When they wrote the state constitution, Nevada’s founding fathers anticipated a limited state government with a weak governor. While the president of the United States runs on a ticket with his handpicked No. 2 and then chooses his secretary of state, financial advisers and, yes, attorney general, Nevada’s governor isn’t afforded these luxuries; rather, the electorate tackles this chore. That’s led to politicians from opposing parties working, as you might expect, toward opposing ends in the same office. Oddly, it’s also led to politicians from the same parties working toward opposing ends.

Consider: In 1982, Democrat Richard Bryan was elected governor, with Washoe County businessman Bob Cashell, a fellow Democrat, as Bryan’s lieutenant. But they clashed on the issues, and Bryan didn’t trust Cashell to back his administration. After just a few months in office, Cashell switched parties. He was expected to challenge Bryan’s reelection in 1986 but didn’t; instead, that year Bryan defeated Patty Cafferata, then the state treasurer … and now Laxalt’s spokeswoman.

Other governors have had—or have been rumored to have—spiky relationships with fellow party members in their administrations. In 1974, Mike O’Callaghan easily won reelection. His new lieutenant governor was Washoe County District Attorney Bob Rose. Rumbling spread through Nevada that the two Democrats weren’t that close—perhaps understandably, since Rose’s predecessor was Harry Reid, who had been O’Callaghan’s close friend and former student. O’Callaghan and Rose couldn’t have matched that level of trust.

Another likely reason they weren’t particularly tight was that Rose was closer politically to Grant Sawyer, the former governor, than he was to O’Callaghan. While Sawyer and O’Callaghan weren’t enemies, they did jockey against each other a bit. And Sawyer was familiar with this sort of problem. When he was elected governor in 1958, his attorney general was Roger D. Foley—both Democrats, both liberal-minded, close in age and obviously ambitious. They respected each other but disagreed on some issues related to civil rights—Sawyer wanted to do a lot, but Foley felt Sawyer should do even more.

Foley resigned in 1962 to become a federal judge. That year, the winner of the attorney general’s race was Harvey Dickerson, who had lost his bid for governor in the 1958 Democratic primary to—you guessed it—Sawyer. When Sawyer tried to force casino operators to desegregate and warned that “we would be looking very closely at their operations”—an implicit threat—Dickerson said his boss lacked the power to do that. But Sawyer later said that “by then I was already doing it, and I continued to do it until we had a law that took care of the situation.”

Then again, Dickerson didn’t annoy Sawyer as much as his lieutenant governor did. When Sawyer would leave the state, his No. 2 would convene meetings and make appointments to office. Eventually, Sawyer sued, and the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the lieutenant governor’s powers were limited to emergencies when the governor couldn’t be reached.

In this case, the two were bound to disagree on some things, since Sawyer was a Democrat and his lieutenant governor was a Republican. You may have heard of him: Paul Laxalt. You see, he has this grandson …

Michael Green is an associate professor of history at UNLV

Proposed tax hike by Nevada’s GOP governor stirs angry revolt

brian-sandoval-bongCARSON CITY, Nev. — If 2014 was a good year for Republicans nationally, in Nevada it was an election for the ages.

Gov. Brian Sandoval won his second term with an extravagant 70 percent support. Republicans not only seized control of the Legislature — giving them full run of the Capitol for the first time since 1929 — but also staged an unprecedented sweep of statewide offices.

Sandoval then did something uncharacteristic for a Republican, especially one in a state with such a deep and abiding hostility toward government: He called for the largest tax increase in Nevada history.

And he did so after nearly 80 percent of voters in November rejected a tax hike that, while differing in size and scope, was touted as addressing the same problem Sandoval hopes to remedy with his plan: the state’s woeful public education system.

money“I know this will cause debate,” Sandoval said after springing his plan in last month’s State of the State address.

Indeed it has, along with a revolt by antitax Republicans, rumblings of a legislative recall and a man-bites-dog display of Democrats hailing the GOP governor and his brave leadership.

“The governor loves this state,” said Marilyn Kirkpatrick, the Democratic leader in the Nevada Assembly. “And he has a vision of what it needs to look like moving forward.”

Apart from turning Nevada politics upside down, Sandoval has launched a frontal assault against the Tea Party — perhaps the boldest in the country — in a state where the movement’s minimal-government philosophy has one of its strongest followings.

Sandoval’s $1.1-billion proposal would replace the state’s $200 business license fee with a levy based on annual revenue and industry type. The tax on cigarettes would increase, and a 2009 tax hike that was supposed to end in June 2013 but was extended would become permanent.

The added revenue over two years would pay for a sizable investment in the state’s public schools — among the worst-performing in the nation — including more money for English-language learning.

Gov. Brian Sandoval warned Friday that if Nevada lawmakers don’t extend sun-setting taxes and approve new tax revenue the state could face across-the-board budget cuts as deep as 20 percent, damaging an already dismal education system.

Gov. Brian Sandoval warned Friday that if Nevada lawmakers don’t extend sun-setting taxes and approve new tax revenue the state could face across-the-board budget cuts as deep as 20 percent, damaging an already dismal education system.

“If you’re not going to continue the sunsets and you’re not going to do what I’m proposing, it will be devastating,” Sandoval told the Review-Journal editorial board as he made the case for his $1.15 billion plan to extend taxes and raise business license fees. “It will devastate the university system. It will devastate K-through-12.”

brian-sandoval-bongJust days before Monday’s open of the biennial Nevada Legislature session, Sandoval said he’s been meeting with leaders of various businesses — the fuel industry and insurance companies were mentioned — who oppose his tax plan, although they agree with his goal to boost education spending, improving quality at all levels to meet the needs of a modern workforce.

The governor said he’s also meeting with leaders in the Senate and the Assembly, now both controlled by majority Republicans, to begin selling his plan for a graduated business license fee that would raise $438 million over the next two years for education reforms.

Businesses would pay from $400 to $4.3 million annually for a license, depending on a companies’ gross receipts. The scheme is attracting critics who suggest it’s too close to failed plans to tax gross receipts in 2003 and last year’s voter-rejected business margins tax.

Sandoval said he’s well aware of the opposition and he welcomes a healthy debate on any proposal put forward during the session, from a corporate income tax to a tax on services to doubling the payroll tax, or Modified Business Tax, which four out of five Nevada businesses don’t pay.

“All of them agree that we need to fund education,” Sandoval said of the business community. “What the disagreement is, is how we’re going to do it. None of these (tax and revenue raising) plans is going to be perfect.”

Sandoval’s plan, he argued, “is the broadest. It is the fairest. And it is the simplest” because none of Nevada’s 330,000 or so companies are exempt, it’s easy to collect and a business license fee, now $200 a year, is already in place.

“There may be different iterations of this,” Sandoval said of his tax plan, adding that someone suggested to him “just double the MBT and we’ll be done in 48 hours.” Others have suggested extending the sales tax to services and allow businesses “to just pass it on” to consumers. He said the state wouldn’t be able to implement such a complicated service tax plan to raise revenue in the coming two years, however, which is why he suggested studying it first.

Sandoval, a moderate Republican, said his meetings with business people as well as lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties have been positive, though conservative GOP Assembly members already oppose tax increases — the governor’s or any others.

“I think there’s general consensus the business community wants to do more for education,” Sandoval said, then joked. “Now we’ll see who runs for the hills. I’m not.”

Any tax must be approved by a two-thirds super-majority in the Legislature and Sandoval suggested he may be able to achieve that with a coalition of Democrats, moderate Republicans and conservative GOP lawmakers who can be convinced that more money for education won’t be wasted in light of improved accountability and other reforms.

“For the most part, the super-majority of the Legislature knows that this is a generational opportunity to make a difference,” Sandoval said. “And there are some who will just say ‘no.’”

Asked if he was surprised that the heaviest criticism is coming from his own party, Sandoval said, “I knew there was going to be criticism, but I have to do what’s right for the state.

“I don’t know what that means for me two years from now, four years from now,” he added. “I have to do what I think in my heart is best for the state of Nevada and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The governor said he isn’t thinking about political considerations, but is focused on ensuring he leaves the state in better shape than when he took office in 2011. During his first term, he said, he wasn’t in a position to offer bold proposals because he had to cut the budget to make ends meet in a recession economy. Then, Nevada’s unemployment rate was about 14 percent. Now, it’s dropped to 6.8 percent, and the economy is slowing recovering.

“I have to embrace the moment,” Sandoval said. “We’ve done the cuts. I’ve done the consolidations. We’ve done the sweeps (of funds to find revenue). I’ve done all that. I did make up my mind that I’m not going to move backwards anymore. And I also made up my mind I’m not going to put a future governor through this.”

“Somebody has to take this on,” the governor added. “I’m the governor. I have to lead and I will lead. I’m going to defend this,” he said of his tax plan. “If there are other good ideas out there, I’m going to listen.”

Sandoval was asked if he is prepared to give up some of his proposals in exchange for support for his overall plan. The governor said he’s “not going to pit kids against kids” or show his cards early in the game, although such deal-making is almost always necessary in the legislative process.

“I’d be like the Seahawks showing their playbook to the Patriots” before the Superbowl, the governor said with a smile.

Not only is Fiore extremely unimpressed with Sandoval’s plan to raise business license fees by several hundred million in support of Nevada’s foundering public schools, but she continues to question his Republican credentials in the run-up to the 2015 session of the Legislature.

I respect my doormat, but I still wipe my feet on it.

That’s the impression I was left with Thursday morning after listening to firebrand conservative Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore discuss Gov. Brian Sandoval’s legislative agenda during an interview with Dave Becker on KNPR-FM, 88.9’s “State of Nevada.”

Not only is Fiore extremely unimpressed with Sandoval’s plan to raise business license fees by several hundred million in support of Nevada’s foundering public schools, but she continues to question his Republican credentials in the run-up to the 2015 session of the Legislature.

Her daily roasting only appears to be growing in intensity.

“Our state cannot afford $1.2 billion in taxes that was voted down,” Fiore said. “This isn’t something that’s pie in the sky. This tax was voted down by 80 percent of the constituents who said no on a gross receipts margins tax. This tax, this $1.2 billion, $440 million of it is basically a watered down gross receipts margins tax.

“The voters spoke loud and clear. So what message are we sending to the voters? ‘Hey guys, you took the time out, you went and voted, you voted this down on the ballot, but we’re not going to pay attention to you today. And we’re just going to do what you don’t want us to do.’ How well do you think that’s going to play in the next election?”

Fiore, meanwhile, called for slashes to the public education budget teacher education incentives and classroom-size reduction.

But, really, she thinks a great deal of Sandoval.

“The respect level for our governor has always been high and will continue to always be high, but just because we disagree on policy doesn’t mean there’s any lack of respect,” Fiore said after blasting his policies and Republican bona fides. “Brian Sandoval is our governor. He’s an incredible individual.”

District Judge James Todd Russell on Thursday sharply narrowed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the governor’s Catalyst Fund.

judge_russellIn a verbal order issued from the bench, District Judge James Todd Russell on Thursday sharply narrowed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the governor’s Catalyst Fund.

That fund, with some $20 million to help bring businesses to Nevada, has been challenged as a violation of the constitutional provisions barring direct contributions of money by the state to for-profit businesses.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute challenged it on behalf of Michael Little, a southern Nevada businessman who objected to the $1.2 million award to Solar City which he said is his direct competitor.

The lawsuit was originally framed as a blanket challenge of the Catalyst Fund law.Featured Image -- 14618

But Russell Thursday narrowed it specifically to a challenge of the award to Solar City.

He said to do otherwise would necessitate bringing into the lawsuit all 13 companies that have won grants — funneled through local governments in Nevada — from the Catalyst Fund.

Those companies have effectively been awarded $9 million from the Catalyst Fund using local government entities as a pass-through.

“If we’re going to take that money away from them, I think they need to be here,” the judge said.

Russell basically ruled Little has no specific standing in the issue different from any other taxpayer.

Russell also questioned whether it’s up to the court to “second guess the Nevada Legislature as to the establishment of a business program.”

He said he wasn’t certain that’s the court’s business.

That enabled him to narrow the case to a specific challenge of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development decision to issue up to $1.2 million to Clark County for that entity to then send to Solar City — a scheme designed to get around the appearance of a direct contribution to Solar City.

Russell said the issue then becomes, “can the state indirectly do what they can’t do directly.”

“We think that’s the thrust of this issue when all the dust settles,” said NPRI lawyer Joseph Becker.

Russell directed Kevin Powers of the Legislative Counsel Bureau to prepare an order narrowing the case to that particular grant and bringing in Solar City and Clark County.

The result is even if Little and NPRI win the Solar City case, the other grants GOED has made to different businesses aren’t invalidated. That would depend on challenges of those grants based on the specifics of those individual contracts.

Sandoval unsure if he can override Laxalt’s decision on immigration lawsuit

Attorney General Adam Laxalt

Attorney General Adam Laxalt

By Michelle Rindels and Riley Snyder, Associated Press

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wednesday that he doesn’t think he legally can override the state’s challenge to an order that would spare more people from deportation, but he plans to talk with Attorney General Adam Laxalt about it in the next few days.
Sandoval made the comment Wednesday at an unrelated event in Carson City that took place just before a coalition of liberal groups launched a protest at Laxalt’s Las Vegas office. While Sandoval didn’t give prior consent to Nevada joining the suit, which includes 25 other states as plaintiffs, it’s not uncommon for attorneys general to pursue lawsuits on their own.

Critics said Sandoval should have done more to rein in Laxalt, a fellow Republican whom he endorsed in the past election, especially on such a heated issue.

“He’s the governor. He can’t act like he has no control over anything,” said spokeswoman Laura Martin of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, one of the groups involved in the protest. “Stop being aloof and be a governor.”

Laxalt announced Monday that Nevada would challenge President Barack Obama’s order to shield millions from deportation and allow them to apply for work permits. Obama promoted the move at a Las Vegas high school in November.

The attorney general acknowledged that the immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed but argued that the president was going about it illegally.

“The president cannot bypass the peoples’ elected representatives in Congress just because they do not pass the laws he wants, nor can he simply rewrite current law under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion,'” Laxalt said.

Obama has defended himself by pointing to his Democratic and Republican predecessors and saying presidents exercise “prosecutorial discretion all the time.”

Laxalt’s move to join the lawsuit drew sharp criticism from Democrats, including Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

“This is embarrassing,” Reid said in a statement. “No other state in the country will benefit more from President Obama’s executive actions than Nevada. The irresponsible decision to join a lawsuit that will cause family separation is harmful to our communities.”

An estimated 7.6 percent of Nevada residents are living in the country illegally — the largest share of any state, according to the Pew Research Center. Politicians are typically sensitive to how their immigration moves will appear to Nevada’s sizeable bloc of Hispanic voters, and Sandoval takes a more moderate tone on the matter than some Republican governors.

“Gov. Sandoval continues to encourage Congressional leadership and President Obama to work toward passing a bipartisan solution,” his spokeswoman, Mari St. Martin, said Monday. “He continues to believe that the best course of action is a legislative solution rather than legal action.”

While attorneys general at the federal level are typically in lockstep with the presidents who appoint them, the offices are elected separately in Nevada and an attorney general is independent of the governor.

What is more intriguing in this case is that while both men are Republicans and Sandoval supported Laxalt’s heated race for attorney general, their positions on immigration diverge.

“It’s politically a more interesting question than legally,” said Michael Kagan, an associate professor at Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “It shows two different visions in the Republican Party.”

THE BREAKFAST CLUB: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is set to visit a Carson City elementary school to announce a plan to expand the school breakfast program.

break fast

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is set to visit a Carson City elementary school to announce a plan to expand the school breakfast program.

The Republican governor first announced in his State of the State address that he would propose creating a $2 million program designed to expand school breakfasts throughout Nevada.

brian-sandoval-bongSandoval will join his wife Kathleen and several agriculture department officials Wednesday at Empire Elementary School to launch a challenge aimed at ramping up participation.

The challenge will help participating schools by providing technical assistance and equipment to increase the number of breakfasts provided.

Schools that see the largest gains will receive prizes when the challenge ends in the spring.

Nevada ranks 41st in the nation for school breakfast participation.

Sandoval Plans to Discuss Immigration Issue With New AG

brian-sandoval-bongCARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Gov. Brian Sandoval says he doesn’t think he legally can override Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s challenge to an order that would spare more people from deportation, but he plans to talk with Laxalt about it in the next few days.

Sandoval made the comment Wednesday in Carson City, after a coalition of liberal groups announced plans to protest at Laxalt’s Las Vegasoffice.

The groups are demanding that Laxalt reverse a decision from earlier this week that brings Nevada into a lawsuit along with 25 other states.Adam Laxalt

The states are challenging President Barack Obama’s unilateral order to shield millions from deportation and allow them to apply for work permits. Obama promoted the move at a Las Vegas school in November.

Sandoval did not sign off on Nevada joining the lawsuit.

Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett and Member Shawn Reid were reappointed to new four-year terms Tuesday by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett and Member Shawn Reid were reappointed to new four-year terms Tuesday by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

A spokeswoman for the governor confirmed the reappointments.

Burnett, 45, has headed the regulatory panel since 2012. He and Reid, 51, both joined the Control Board in 2011. Their terms were set to expire at the end of January.

“I am proud to continue serving as chairman of the Gaming Control Board,” Burnett said. “I look forward to continuing the board’s work as we regulate Nevada’s most important industry.”

The term for Board Member Terry Johnson expires in January 2016.

Prior to joining the Control Board, Burnett served as deputy chief of the agency’s corporate securities division and as a senior deputy attorney general in the gaming division. He was an associate in a Reno law firm.

pot slotsReid had been chief of Control Board’s Investigations Division before he was elevated to the three-person panel. Reid joined the agency in 1990 as an agent.

The Gaming Control Board is the state’s enforcement and investigative agency for the casino industry. The panel makes recommendations on matters to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The three members are full-time state employees. Control board members earn $135,741 annually. The chairman earns $145,986.


In case you haven’t heard, taxes are going to be big once the 2015 Legislature convenes on Monday.

In case you haven’t heard, taxes are going to be big once the 2015 Legislature convenes on Monday.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has called for increase in the business license fee (which carries the delicious acronym “BLT”), switching to a progressive fee depending on a company’s gross receipts. He’s also proposed continuing a package of temporary taxes.

But there are plenty of other things the Legislature will have to deal with in its compressed, four-month session as it sets policy for the state for the coming two years. Here’s a look at five of those pressing issues, and maybe a few more:

1. Construction defect reform: For years, Republicans have sought to overhaul the rules regarding when and how homeowners can sue construction companies or home-repair contractors for allegedly shoddy work. But Democrats successfully kept most of those bills at bay. Now that Republicans control both houses of the Legislature, things will be different.

For one, Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, is chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee (where construction defect bills will be heard). Hansen is a plumbing contractor, and has long been an advocate of a “right to repair” bill in which contractors get a chance to make a defective repair right before being sued.

For another, state Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, is preparing a comprehensive tort reform package for introduction in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said a recent breakfast forum sponsored by the Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce that Nevada’s litigious legal environment is “a hidden tax on business.” So the question is not whether the law will be reformed, but how. And how will Democrats — who count trial lawyers among their key constituencies — react to the proposals, now that Republicans have the votes to pass them even in the face of Democratic opposition.

2. Organized labor reform:Danny Thompson, the head of Nevada’s AFL-CIO, just today announced that working families are under attack by Republican lawmakers. And organized labor reforms long sought by the GOP are what he meant. Now that Republicans are in charge, this will be a prime focus. Ideas include changes to binding arbitration rules (or perhaps the elimination of it entirely), changes to the Public Employees Retirement System pension system and clearly defining a “fiscal emergency,” as well as outlining how collective bargaining contracts are to be handled in such circumstances, are going to be the subject of legislation in the 2015 session.

Once again, Democrats will find themselves playing defense, as labor unions are among the most reliable of their political base. But with a sympathetic Republican governor, they may not be able to muster the votes to stop some of the more moderate ideas. The real question: What will moderate Republicans and Sandoval do if, for example, a bill to simply end government-worker collective bargaining makes it out of the legislative building?

3. Education reform: Public schools in Nevada don’t have a very good reputation, but the prescriptions to fix them are as varied as the membership in the Legislature. Sandoval set the tone early in his State of the State address,promising to add more than $780 million to K-12 schools alone. But the Republican governor also called for reforms, and that’s where some of the biggest political battles will take place.

School choice will be an oft-debated topic during the session, including vouchers, scholarships and an expansion of the laws governing charter schools. While the state’s constitution prohibits state funds from being used for sectarian education, some conservatives believe that provision can be evaded by giving money directly to parents and allowing them to choose a private, even a parochial school, without offending the constitution.

Not only that, but reforms to rules governing teachers may be in the works, including further restricting (or even eliminating) teacher tenure. Those efforts will be staunchly opposed by Democrats, one of whom once declared teachers to be the “backbone” of the party, without whose support it would be “defunct.”

4. Voter ID: Republicans have repeatedly tried to get a simple law passed in Nevada that would require a drivers license or state identification card in order to vote, but they’ve been just as repeatedly thwarted by Democrats. In fact, the Democratic antipathy to the idea even led lawmakers in the 2013 session to reject a proposal by then-Secretary of State Ross Miller that would have used DMV photos at polling places, but would not have disenfranchised any voter who didn’t have a photo ID. Their stated reason: Too costly.

But now, with Republicans in control of the Legislature and with the foremost advocate of voter ID, former state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, in the secretary of state’s office, voter ID is at the forefront of the agenda. But instead of Miller’s proposal — the only voter ID at the time that didn’t draw the condemnation ofBrennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School — it appears Republicans will try to enact a straight-up voter ID requirement over Democratic objections and, inevitably, a lawsuit.

5. Marijuana: Once a neglected topic in Carson City (who else misses Assemblywoman-turned-Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani?!), marijuana is now the cause of the moment. Not only will the Legislature have to address problems that have cropped up with the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries, but lawmakers will also be compelled to deal with a voter-approved initiative to legalize recreational marijuana outright. (If they approve the measure in the first 40 days, it could become law right away; if not, it goes to the 2016 ballot for voters to decide.)

Although he’s now in the minority, nobody knows more about the issue than state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who will no doubt play a prominent role on the issue (when he’s not crossing swords with Republicans over labor and tort reforms).

6. And lots of other stuff: With more than 1,000 bills expected to be introduced (to say nothing of resolutions!), every subject under the desert sun will get some attention. Among the other issues are guns, especially where they may be carried concealed and whether a background check should be required for sales between two private parties. Economic development, including rules about which companies should get state incentives and how much they should pay their employees before they can get tax breaks from the state, is another one. The development of a UNLV medical school is another hot topic, one that Northern Nevada lawmakers will monitor with interest (since the only existing medical school in Nevada now is based at the University of Nevada Reno). And funding for treatment of mental health services will be an issue, spurred by negative publicity over the state’s handling of some patients who were bused to other states instead of receiving care here.

Oh, and my personal favorite: Wineries! Las Vegas may have a platoon of master sommeliers working at the various high-end restaurants in town, but there are precious few places where grapes are cultivated, fermented and bottled, to say nothing of handed out to the public in on-premises samples! Don’t make Las Vegans and Renoites schlep all the way to Napa Valley, Legislature!

Lawsuit over Obama immigration action divides Sandoval, Laxalt


adam_laxaltAttorney General Adam Laxalt announced today that Nevada will join a multistate coalition suing President Barack Obama’s contentious deportation deferral program, his first major publicized legal action and one he’s carrying out without the backing of Gov. Brian Sandoval.
“Our immigration system is broken and clearly needs to be fixed,” said Laxalt, who vowed to fight the president’s executive action shortly after it was announced in November. “The solution must be a permanent, legal result that includes, not ignores, the other branches of government and their constitutional roles.”

But Sandoval has distanced himself from his fellow Republican’s decision to join the suit, which now has the support of GOP officials from 26 states. The lead plaintiff is recently elected Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who filed the document in December while serving as that state’s attorney general. brian-sandoval-bong

“Gov. Sandoval’s position on President Obama’s executive order has not changed since his announcement in November. He believes our immigration system is broken and it is without question that comprehensive reform is necessary,” spokeswoman Mari St. Martin said in a prepared statement. “He continues to believe that the best course of action is a legislative solution rather than legal action.”

Nevada Democrats issued a statement calling the suit “partisan, irresponsible and mean-spirited” and said it was “nothing more than a slap in the face to Nevada’s immigrant community.”

“If Brian Sandoval and Adam Laxalt had their way, thousands of Nevadans could face deportation and countless families would be at risk of being torn apart,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairwoman Roberta Lange wrote.

imageTexas Attorney General Ken Paxton, meanwhile, issued his own statement boasting that the suit now has the backing of officials from more than half of U.S. states.

“Texas is proud to lead a coalition that now includes a majority of the United States standing up against the president’s rogue actions,” Paxton said.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus called the suit “one more example of the Republican war on immigrants,” while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said “no other state in the country will benefit more from President Obama’s executive actions than Nevada.”

Almost half of all undocumented immigrants in Clark County qualify for deportation relief through Obama’s deferral programs, according to a study released earlier this month by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. And Nevada has the highest population share of undocumented immigrants in the country, according to the Pew Research Center.

Astrid Silva, an activist with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada who became the face of Obama’s immigration deal after getting a presidential shout-out in November, said Laxalt’s actions are misguided and “shameful.” Silva grew up undocumented in Las Vegas before qualifying for deportation relief through Obama’s 2012 action benefiting people who arrived in the country as children.

The suit has also gotten criticism from law enforcement officials throughout the country — a response filed in court earlier this month by a group of police chiefs and sheriffs argues that stopping Obama’s actions would harm public safety operations.

Metro Police spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said the department isn’t voicing an opinion on Laxalt’s plans.

“That’s between the attorney general and the federal government,” Meltzer said. “It’s not our place to get in the middle of it. We just enforce the laws that are on the books.”

Chuck Muth-led PAC takes 1st steps to recall Assembly Republicans


A Nevada conservative activist is launching a number of PACs designed to recall three Southern Nevada Republicans who haven’t staked out a strong anti-tax stance.

Citizen Outreach President Chuck Muth said he’s helping oversee political action committees designed to recall Republican Assembly members Chris Edwards, Stephen Silberkraus and Speaker-designate John Hambrick because they haven’t publicly committed to voting against the proposed tax increases in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

Sandoval proposed adding or extending $1.1 billion in taxes over the next two years primarily to fund K-12 education.

Edwards said the PACs were “out-of-line.” Hambrick said he signed a pledge to not raise taxes several years ago, and wanted to look at the details of the budget before making a decision.

Silberkraus couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Nevada ‘InNEVation Center’ is the first public / private economic diversification effort of its kind.

InNEVation Center

The InNEVation Center is the first public / private economic diversification effort of its kind. We bring together entrepreneurs. Business leaders. Mentors. Investors. Educators. And government agencies. In other words, everyone it takes to build an economy of superheroic proportions. 



The Innevation Center is the brain child of Switch founder Rob Roy

The Innevation Center is the brain child of Switch founder Rob Roy. As the most successful technology entrepreneur in Nevada’s history, Rob is extremely passionate about enabling a more diverse Nevada economy.

The Innevation Center is a commitment to “pay forward” the success of Switch by helping to empower Nevada’s next generation of economic leaders.

It happens in a state-of-the-art COLLABORATION space through:

• Business Networks: Business luminaries and economic development engines converge here to educate, advise, connect, collaborate, host events and more. The Innevation Center is home to regular events like Startup Weekend, Funding Post, PHP Hack Night, LaunchUp, Tban, Ruby MeetUp and Southern Nevada Strong.

• Technology Networks: The Innevation Center’s mothership is Switch, the world’s most powerful technology ecosystem. That means access to faster-than-fast internet (connectivity at 1 million meg), advanced clouds courtesy of the SUPERNAP, and an extremely low cost connectivity purchasing gateway (along with proximity to a technological wonder of the world).

Political Networks: We are a partnership with the State of Nevada Economic Development Office, the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), and the Nevada Development Authorities, with Governor Brian Sandoval. This is where our state’s power brokers go to charge up.

The Nevada InNEVation Center


Governor’s budget proposal not favorable to Carson City’s WNC

we dont needno educationDespite his claims community colleges, especially Western Nevada College and Great Basin Community College, will train the employees needed by high-tech companies moving to Nevada including Tesla, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget deletes the added funding to help those schools survive formula changes.

Those formula changes left WNC and GBC in dire straits two years ago by shifting money they had received in the past south to UNLV and College of Southern Nevada.brian-sandoval-bong

University System Chancellor Dan Klaich told the combined Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees Thursday during the course of the recession all budgets including those for small colleges were cut about 30 percent.

On top of that, Klaich said the new formula developed by a study committee and the Board of Regents pretty much eliminated the “rural factor” that had previously helped those colleges survive.

“That was a significant change in the way rural institutions were funded,” Klaich said, adding their budgets “continued to fall.”

“I know you don’t want to hear things like ‘catastrophic, the sky’s falling,’ but the sky is pretty close to falling in.”  Dan Klaich, University System chancellor

Lawmakers and the governor two years ago provided some “bridge funding” to help them through the transition to the new formula and, this time, regents asked that funding continue another two years.

“We have requested you give these colleges two more years to get to the level of funding fully implied by the formula simply because the drop off is too steep for them to make that jump in two years,” Klaich told lawmakers.

Altogether, NSHE asked for $4.95 million over the biennium — $1.95 million for WNC and $3 million for GBC.

Sandoval has said several times community colleges are key to providing workers who have the technical training to fill high-tech jobs coming to Northern Nevada with Tesla and associated companies among other businesses. Nonetheless, he cut the $4.95 million regents included for WNC and GBC from the proposed budget.

Assemblymen Pat Hickey and Randy Kirner, both R-Reno, questioned the decision. Kirner was more emphatic arguing the so-called bridge funding, “isn’t all they need; they actually need more.”

“We’ve got big major companies like Tesla and Switch moving north and the community colleges are the key factor in providing skilled employees for them,” said Kirner. “With Tesla coming down the road, you have a big job preparing students for those roles. We can’t wait until they arrive.”

Klaich said he’s asking lawmakers for help on that issue.

“I know you don’t want to hear things like ‘catastrophic, the sky’s falling,’ but the sky is pretty close to falling in,” Klaich said.

Lawmakers said the issue would be discussed in depth during session by the subcommittee who reviews the system budgets.


Battle brewing over Governor Sandoval’s proposed budget “the current budget needs to be flushed right down the drain, and that 12 assembly members will vote against the budget”

budget-battle_0CARSON CITY, Nev. — Two Nevada Republican lawmakers say they have nearly enough votes to block Governor Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget, over concerns about tax increases they say will harm businesses.

Las Vegas Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and Sparks Senator Don Gustavson spoke at the Atlantis in Reno on Tuesday. Fiore said the proposed tax increases in Sandoval’s budget need to be removed after Republicans took control of the State Assembly.

She said the current budget needs to be flushed right down the drain, and that 12 assembly members will vote against the budget.

New details emerge about Gov. Brian Sandoval’s “Massive tax proposal”

taxBy Cy Ryan (contact)

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 | 2:58 p.m.

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval is putting the finishing touches on his estimated $570 million tax-increase package that would hit cigarette smokers, slot route operators, the mining industry and other businesses.
The biggest share would come from a gross receipts tax that would cost businesses from $400 to $4 million. The top of the scale would be paid by companies that gross $1 billion or more a year.

Companies now pay a $200 a year business license fee. That will be eliminated and the new tax would be based on the type of business and gross receipts.brian-sandoval-bong

Julia Teska, director of the Department of Administration, outlined Sandoval’s $7.3 billion, two-year budget today for members of the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee in advance of the Feb. 2 start of the legislative session.

Today’s meeting outlined new information about raising an additional $133 million to help fund the state’s education programs with $882 million over the next two years.

The details about the funding boost follow Sandoval’s state of the state address last week.

In his speech, the governor outlined a plan to spend nearly $1 billion on education over the next two years. He wants to raise $437 million of that by increasing business fees, he said in his speech.

As part of the governor’s plan, the tax on a pack of cigarettes would be increased from 80 cents to $1.20.

moneySlot machine route operators who have 500 machines or more or whose revenues are $10 million or more would be hit with a gross revenue tax, similar to that paid by casinos.

The change would also apply to a the operators slot parlors where the total number of machines is more than 500 or the gross win exceeds $10 million.

Casinos already pay a tax on their gross win. But they would have to pay the gross receipts tax on other revenues, such as entertainment, rooms and food.

The tentative plan calls for a 1.17 percent payroll tax paid by mining companies to be increased to 2 percent. That is expected to bring in $14.6 million over the next two fiscal years.

The gross receipts tax would yield an estimated $437.5 million and the slot tax would produce $39 million over the next biennium.

The governor also plans to make permanent so-called sunset taxes imposed in 2009 and due to expire June 30.

If the sunset taxes are not extended there will be a loss of $600 million in revenue over the next two years, Teska said.

Teska told the members of the committee the administration is keeping a “tight rein” on adding state workers. The present number of 18,406 would increase to 19,048 next fiscal year and to 19,229 in 2017.

LVRJ: A tax? For schools? Is Sandoval a Republican?

At least we now know why the Democrats didn’t recruit a substantial candidate against Gov. Brian Sandoval in the last election.

It would have been hard to find anyone capable of running to the left of our popular Republican. But given the sorry state of Nevada’s public education system, that might actually be a good thing.

The state possesses few viable Democrats with politics more progressive than those espoused Thursday by Sandoval in his State of the State, in which he called for a $7.3 billion two-year budget. That includes $1.5 billion in additional revenue: $580 million in the “endless sunset” tax extension, $80 million in increased cigarette taxes, and $440 million from a new fee on business licenses.

A Republican suggesting a big bump in a business tax?

Forgive me if canaries are circling my head. I’m feeling a little dizzy now that Nevada politics has turned upside down.

The new business tax proceeds would go directly toward Nevada’s foundering public schools with its Dickensian motto: “Please, sir, I want some more.” Although teachers union officials have stated publicly a willingness to embrace proposed system reforms, most Nevada Republicans are probably still trying to get their heads around a proposed $440 million tax increase suggested by one of their own.

But what makes critics of the governor’s plan more embarrassed: the idea of a Republican increasing the business tax to improve public education, or the fact our K-12 system ranks among the poorest in the nation?

Predictably, Nevada’s hard-core conservative Republicans had their crewcuts on fire over Sandoval’s checkbook approach to education reform. Their motto: “He wants some more!” Chuck Muth, town crier of the GOP’s new Assembly raucous caucus, lambasted Sandoval on behalf of his gang this week with a widely circulated blog headlined, “America’s Worst Republican Governor.”

Depending on whether they hold the line, and keep their voices raised to that deafening howl that has the state’s political establishment cringing, the Assembly right-wingers will be either tea party-style heroes or out-of-touch patsies. Odds are they’ll be frozen out of most of the adult discussions very soon.

With a nod during his address to former Democratic Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Sandoval’s strategy would appear to be to run to the left in order to forward what is at its heart a laudable agenda: a hint of reform with a healthy infusion of funding to help the school system climb toward a C-plus in the grade book.

Who knows, maybe it will work.

As a 35-year resident and a longtime observer of the Legislature’s biennial budget rugby, Hobbs, Ong & Associates President Guy Hobbs finds Sandoval’s passion for improving the public school system refreshing. But he’s also watched the state budget process long enough to know substantive changes to Nevada’s tax policy are much easier discussed than done.

“I think from the standpoint of biting off what you can chew, it’s a step in the right direction,” Hobbs said of the governor’s plan.

He’s right. And Hobbs was relieved to hear Sandoval’s realistic call to eliminate the “sunset” misnomer from a stop-gap business tax that has been on the books for more than a decade. Like Alaska in summer, this is an endless sunset.

Although Sandoval has what many consider substantial political capital — he would have had a lot more if he’d defeated a viable challenger last November — his legacy will surely depend on how hard he fights for the tax increases that will fuel promising programs for the army of at-risk students in our public schools.

This is precisely where his focus ought to be.

“In the 35 years I’ve lived here and watched all of this stuff develop, I don’t think there’s anybody, Republican or Democrat, that would with a straight face say they’re proud of the way the education system has performed here,” Hobbs says. “When you look at the numbers, it’s hard to be proud of some of those rankings. For Sandoval to bring that into the forefront is a very refreshing thing.”

Hobbs was on hand in 2003 when Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, also an education advocate, called for a big tax increase on behalf of public schools. He knows a lot can happen between the State of the State and the end of the session. So don’t be surprised if the increased business license fees plan morphs into another form of revenue generation.

A Republican governor just called for a substantial business tax increase and a new focus on improving public education.

Maybe that makes Sandoval a Democrat in spirit or a Republican in Name Only. But it also makes it clear he’s paying attention.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Email him or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.

Nevada’s big businesses waiting for Sandoval budget details

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $1.1 billion tax package to fund education and other state services caught some industry groups off guard, but the state’s largest business organizations say they will await specifics of the proposal before passing judgment.

Representatives of gaming, mining and retail industries say they like the Republican governor’s vision to improve education. It’s how to pay for it that is giving them pause.

Virginia Valentine, president of the powerful Nevada Resort Association, applauded Sandoval’s plan to jump-start school construction and capital improvements.

“The NRA has always advocated for increased and stable funding for all levels of education in our state,” Valentine said in an email. While admiring the governor’s intentions, she added, “We, like many other Nevada businesses, await the details.”

Getting the two-thirds votes in both the state Senate and Assembly needed to pass the tax package will not be a cakewalk for the popular governor. And lawmakers are expected to bring some of their own ideas on taxes when the 120-day legislative session begins Feb. 2.

The cornerstone of Sandoval’s proposal is an overhaul of the state business license fee. Businesses large and small currently pay a flat $200 each year. The governor wants to establish a tiered rate schedule, ranging from $400 up to $4 million, based on gross receipts.

Sandoval said the move would raise $430 million over the two-year budget cycleand pay for his plan to elevate Nevada’s education system from the basement dungeon to the penthouse suite, nurturing a workforce demanded by the high-tech companies such as Tesla that he’s worked to recruit to the Silver State.

“I realize these decisions are difficult. I know I am asking a lot from the business community. But I have explored every option and find this to be the broadest, least complicated, and fairest solution,” Sandoval said in his State of the State address Thursday, when he released the highlights of his $7.3 billion two-year budget proposal.

Mining, which escaped potentially higher taxes at the ballot box when voters in November rejected a measure that would have removed a cap on net proceeds from the Nevada Constitution, did not evade the governor’s revenue strategy. In addition to new business license fees, Sandoval wants $14.6 million more in payroll taxes from the industry.

In a statement, the Nevada Mining Association said it is passionate about Nevada’s schools and shares the governor’s concerns about closing the workforce skills gap. It’s also looking out for its members.

“We are also concerned about the current economic diversity being experienced in the mining industry — virtually no job growth, volatile mineral values and declining company stock prices,” the association said.

Sandoval’s tax plan also would:

■ Make permanent $560 million in so-called “sunset taxes” that were supposed to expire in 2011 but have twice been extended.

■ Raise cigarette taxes to $1.20 per pack, up from 80 cents, bringing in $78.3 million.

■ Impose a new slot tax on restricted gaming license holders with more than 500 machines or revenue of $10 million or more, for $39 million.

Business groups have long said they would support tax policy that is broad and fair in scope. But they want to see the fine print before signing off on the governor’s plan.

Bryan Wachter with the Retail Association of Nevada said its members range from mom-and-pop operations “to those that pay the highest taxes in the state.”

“If there are other options out there that do a better job of bringing in that additional revenue, then we’ll look at those as well,” he said.

There is also an underlying resentment that businesses who struggled to stay afloat during Nevada’s gripping recession are being asked to pony up while tax breaks are granted to new kids on the block. Tesla Motors was given a pass for $1.3 billion in taxes over 20 years to build its $5 billion battery plant in Northern Nevada.

“We’re treating businesses differently,” said Randi Thompson, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“They are just increasing the cost of business on the small folks and keep incentivizing the big folks,” she said. “After awhile, we get a little crabby.”

Thompson said she’s not against Tesla and believes it will have a positive influence on the economy. “But most of the guys I’ve worked with have never asked for a tax incentive.”

Tesla would not be exempt from the new business license fee, though it’s unclear how much it would pay.

Nevada’s two largest business organizations — the Las Vegas Metro and Reno-Sparks chambers of commerce — also hailed Sandoval’s commitment to education but are more muted about his tax plan.

The Las Vegas business group said it looks forward to working with the governor “as conversations evolve” on state revenue needs.

Tray Abney, with the Reno-Sparks Chamber, said the group has historically opposed taxes based on gross receipts. Voters in November rejected a measure pushed by the teachers union to impose a gross receipts business margins tax.

“I’m looking forward to hearing more about it,” Abney said of the governor’s plan. “I think corporate tax reform is a piece of it but it can’t be the only piece.”

Carole Vilardo, president of the Nevada Taxpayers Association and veteran of numerous legislative sessions, said the governor’s speech was impressive and covered a number of topics discussed over the years.

“Obviously the amount of new money required is what’s going to be the challenge,” she said. “It always is.”

Contact Sandra Chereb at or 775-687-3901. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

STATE OF CORRUPTION: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval used the term “unmanned aerial systems” instead of DRONES in his 2015 State-of-the-State

Nevada became one of only six national training sites for unmanned aerial systems. – NV Gov. Brian Sandoval

Drone NevadaCARSON CITY, Nev. ( & KRNV) — Here is the full transcript from Governor Brian Sandoval’s State of the State speech:

“Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Members of the Legislature, Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Officers:

My Fellow Nevadans:

I’m incredibly grateful and honored that I have the solemn privilege of serving as your governor.

Tonight I wish to speak with you, not just about the state of our state, but about a plan to modernize and transform Nevada for its next 50 years of success.

Let me take a moment to recognize Nevada’s First Lady, Kathleen Sandoval, as well as my daughters, Maddy and Marisa, my parents, Ron and Teri Sandoval, and my sister, Lauri.

Tonight we welcome 20 freshmen legislators.

Governor Brian Sandoval State of CORRUPTION

Governor Brian Sandoval State of CORRUPTION

Twenty years ago, I was a freshmen legislator, so I know exactly how you are feeling.

Will all the new legislators please stand so we can acknowledge your commitment to public service?

Sadly, since we last met, a great many former legislators have departed.

We lost a Nevada giant in Speaker Joe Dini.

A total of 19 legislators will long be remembered for their service.

Please join me for a moment of silence in their honor.

Thank you.

One month ago today, at the final event of the Nevada Sesquicentennial, I helped seal a time capsule that is now buried at the Capitol.

drone-pilot-nevadaThe contents capture a snapshot of the Nevada family today, to be presented to a 200-year-old Nevada in 2064.

I wrote a letter to Nevada’s bicentennial governor for the time capsule.

As I wrote, I realized that the success or failure of the governor and people of Nevada in 2064 will largely depend upon our decisions today.

Ladies and gentlemen, we stand at a unique moment in time.

Having just completed our Sesquicentennial, we have proudly celebrated our state’s history.

Tonight we begin writing the next chapter of that story.

We must decide if that chapter is about getting through the next two years, or about creating a New Nevada – for the generations to come.

The most recent chapter of our story required strength and perseverance as we weathered one of the worst economic storms in our history.

These times were even more challenging because they coincided with two long and difficult wars.

Even though some said it couldn’t be done, we managed to lay the foundation for a New Nevada:

Nevada became one of only six national training sites for unmanned aerial systems.

We attracted Tesla in one of the most competitive site selections in our nation’s history.

droneWe became the home to dozens of other national brands who now employ Nevadans in industries of the future – cyber security, medicine, aviation, renewable energy, manufacturing, data storage and more. During my first State of the State Message in 2011, Nevada led the nation in unemployment. We set a goal then of 50,000 new jobs – we have almost doubled that. Today, Nevada’s job growth is third strongest in the country, we have cut our unemployment rate in half, and we have the second fastest growing population in the nation. We are adding good jobs in almost every sector, with business services, manufacturing, health services, gaming and tourism leading the way.

And yet, the success of our state is inextricably linked to the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens.

And I believe we have made significant progress in that regard.

Two years ago, 23 percent of Nevadans lacked health insurance, the second worst ranking in the nation.

Today, that number has been reduced by more than half, to 11 percent, and we are the fourth most improved state in the country.Google drone delivery

The uninsured rate for our children has dropped from 15 percent to 2 percent.

Nearly three-fourths of our Medicaid and Nevada Check-Up populations are covered by care management, which saves the state $13 million, and ensures that nevadans receive timely, cost-effective and appropriate health care.

In 2013, our behavioral health system was in a crisis.

Individuals waited days to access inpatient psychiatric treatment, and emergency rooms were overflowing.

Through the work of the Department of Health and Human Services, the specially-created Behavioral Health and Wellness Council, and many others, there have been dramatic improvements.

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Gov. Sandoval: Major data center Switch project coming to Reno area

In his State of the State Thursday evening, Gov. Brian Sandoval announced that Switch, a major data center provider, picked Northern Nevada as the location for its next major expansion.

The announcement is considered a big win among economic development circles for a region that has focused on diversifying away from gaming, tourism and construction after the recession.

Full transcript of the Brian Sandoval Nevada 2015 State of the State address

brian-sandoval-bong“Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Members of the Legislature, Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Officers:

My Fellow Nevadans:

I’m incredibly grateful and honored that I have the solemn privilege of serving as your governor.

Tonight I wish to speak with you, not just about the state of our state, but about a plan to modernize and transform Nevada for its next 50 years of success.

Let me take a moment to recognize Nevada’s First Lady, Kathleen Sandoval, as well as my daughters, Maddy and Marisa, my parents, Ron and Teri Sandoval, and my sister, Lauri.

Tonight we welcome 20 freshmen legislators.

Twenty years ago, I was a freshmen legislator, so I know exactly how you are feeling.

Will all the new legislators please stand so we can acknowledge your commitment to public service?

Sadly, since we last met, a great many former legislators have departed.

We lost a Nevada giant in Speaker Joe Dini.

A total of 19 legislators will long be remembered for their service.
Continue reading

Pedro Martinez linked to Nevada education reform

Pedro Martinez liedCARSON CITY, Nev. ( & KRNV) — Governor Brian Sandoval quickly opened the book on education reform by designating millions in school funding out of his proposed budget.

“We want to invest in our education. We want to modernize, not only our education system, but the way we fund education,” says Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison.

Nevada graduation rates, however, are still last in the nation and Sandoval says improving the K-12 system is a must, not a need.

So, he announced former Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez as the Superintendent in Residence for the newly found ‘Achievement School District.’

With 10% of Nevada schools considered under achieving, the Achievement School District, through the Nevada Department of Education, will take over.

“The Governor has been very bold tonight to have so much funding to K-12 education,” says Martinez. “It starts with building leadership to make sure we’re recruiting and building incentives to make sure the best leaders are over-seeing these schools.”

Each of the 78 schools have one more year to turn the numbers around.

“If they don’t, then we’re going to come in and replace those traditional public schools with a charter school,” says Hutchison. “It’s going to give a lot more control back to the parents, to the educators.”

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval urges massive significant tax hikes to boost Nevada’s neglected education system

taxCARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gov. Brian Sandoval is urging lawmakers to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes over two years to fund significant improvements in education he says are long overdue.

The Republican elected to a second-term in a landslide said in his “State of the State” address Thursday night that Nevada’s economy is steadily growing and diversifying after suffering through the Great Recession. But he says leaders still have work to do.

Sandoval proposed a two-year budget totaling about $7.3 billion. It includes about $1.14 billion in additional revenue, mostly in the form of business taxes. It also would increase the cigarette tax from 80 cents to $1.20 a pack.

He wants to spend $781 million more on schools and another $100 million on higher education.

Gov. Brian Sandoval calls for end to state worker furloughs


State employees will finally see the elimination of the unpaid furloughs they have complained about since imposed several years ago because of the recession.

The governor’s proposed budget also includes continuation of the merit salary increases for classified employees reinstated this current fiscal year. Many particularly new state workers were hard hit by elimination of the steps, which held them for some five years at the base entry pay level where they started.

Budget officials say the state can’t afford to give workers those step raises — worth about 5 percent a year — retroactively. But the budget will continue the steps into this next biennium, which will give workers not at top scale in their classification a total of nearly 10 percent more pay over the next two years.

Those employees, however, will be hit by an effective 1.125 percent pay cut because the Public Employees Retirement system board has ordered a 2.25 percent increase in retirement premiums, split 50-50 between state and the employee.