Nevada governor touts education investment, suspends gas tax

CARSON CITY, Nevada (AP) — Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo on Monday slashed business taxes, suspended the state’s gas tax for a year, made the largest education investment in Nevada’s history, and pushed a budget surplus. You said you would like to propose using financial savings. .

Republicans also proposed tougher criminal penalties, expanded school choices, and created a new state office to raise salaries for state employees by 12% over the next two years. He argued that all initiatives could be accomplished without new taxes.

Lombardo also announced plans to unveil the new facility alongside Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday, revealing plans to build a $3.5 billion manufacturing facility in northern Nevada. Announced. This is part of his determination to further diversify Nevada’s economy, which relies heavily on casinos and tourism.

Lombardo’s lofty legislative goals took center stage in his first state speech in a packed chamber in Carson City, where he saw Democrats rule after his very thin victory in the western swing states. set the stage for how to work with Congress to

At a post-speech press conference, Democratic Party leaders reacted lukewarm to the speech. Said. Details.

Lombardo said the unprecedented surplus “not a penny” would be used to recurring funding for the two-year $11.4 billion budget. Rather, he said his plan emphasized savings and his one-time programs such as a gas tax moratorium and his $313 million into a rainy day fund to be used in emergencies. I was.

Lombardo proposed adding $313 million to what was announced as the “Nevada Way Fund.”

“In simple economic terms, we buy with cash, not credit,” says Lombardo.

Along with creating the Office of School Choices within the Nevada Department of Education, Lombardo announced $50 million in funding for opportunity scholarships. This is the program he created by the Republican majority in 2015. This allows the vouchers to be used towards lower and middle income tuition fees previously paid by companies that received tax credits for donations to the programme.

“Private schools, magnet schools, charter schools, micro schools, virtual schools and homeschooling are all viable alternatives that can increase a student’s chances of success.”

This is part of Lombardo’s proposed $2 billion increase in education funding over two years, increasing spending per student from $10,290 this year to $12,881 by fiscal 2025. Nearly $730 million will go into a new, adjusted emergency budget, the Education Stabilization Account. Towards education, like a rainy day fund.Nevada has long been near the bottom of the national education rankings and fundraising.

To address the pervasive teacher shortage, interest from the Stabilization Account will go towards public college scholarships for residents who have committed to teach at least five years in Nevada schools.

Still, Lombardo said underfunded schools are no excuse for poor grades. “Without seeing results, I would be standing here two years after him calling for systemic change in governance and leadership in K-12 education,” he said.

Three weeks into office, Mr. Lombardo has already enacted four executive orders. One of which he will task the Department of Administration with to deal with a vacancy rate of about 24% in state employees. The order also directed state agencies to return to pre-pandemic operations, including normal face-to-face hours, by July 1.

The former Clark County Sheriff was the only Republican to defeat an incumbent Democratic governor in November, an important win in a western battleground state where a wave of Republican victories was expected.

It’s the cornerstone of his campaign on criminal justice, pledging to repeal recent criminal justice reforms by Democrats that he called “soft on crime.”

He expanded his plan to repeal parts of the 2019 Criminal Justice Reform Act, admitting he did not oppose the bill at the time, but said it “made things worse” three years later. rice field.

Lombardo said he would introduce legislation to strengthen or expand certain criminal penalties. This includes reducing the weight of possession and trafficking while increasing penalties, lowering the threshold for felony theft, and reducing the eligible weight of possession and trafficking of certain drugs while increasing penalties for “narcotics.” law enforcement, etc.

In 90 seconds of media availability in the congressional corridors, Lombardo acknowledged that criminal reform proposals may be the most difficult goal to pass through the Democratic Congress.

At a rebuttal press conference, Democratic Congressional Speaker Steve Yeager agreed with Lombardo’s statement that imprisonment should be a “last resort,” but opposed Lombardo’s efforts to repeal the Criminal Justice Act. , said the governor was “disappointed to be relied upon.” Hard on crime stories.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro noted that, in addition to the pay raises typical of public school teachers, the governor’s failure to address reproductive rights and access to affordable housing.

“I think there are still a lot of details that we don’t know about, so we’ll have to check these bills,” she said.


Associated Press writer Scott Sonar contributed to this report from Reno, Nevada. Gabe Stern is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Follow him on Twitter. @gabester326.

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