Sisolak’s reviews: Lots of raves, but some wariness too

optimisticbut also wary maybe
Members of Make the Road Nevada watching Gov. Steve Sisolak's State of the State speech Wednesday. Photo: Jeniffer Solis

Enjoying the luxury of inheriting what is projected to be a growing state budget, Gov. Steve Sisolak in his State of the State speech Wednesday proposed more money for K-12 and higher education, expanded and new health programs, a raise for state employees, and additional funding for a host of public services, from foster child care to substance abuse treatment to Meals on Wheels.

And all, as expected, without raising any taxes.

“Nevada’s economic growth happened under our current revenue structure — and as
they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Sisolak said.

Sisolak also proposed an admittedly modest tax credit program for developers of affordable housing, growing the state’s Rainy Day fund, diverting a portion of marijuana tax revenue to school safety, and tighter restrictions on guns.

Saying “I will not spend a single second debating the reality of climate change,” he called for 50 percent of Nevada’s electricity to be created through renewable energy. (The full text of Sisolak’s remarks as prepared are printed at the end of this story).

The agenda Sisolak outlined Wednesday must ultimately be worked out in conjunction with legislators over the next several months, and some of Sisolak’s proposals weren’t details of plans as much as general support for concepts. For instance, he said he is “committed to working with the Legislature — and the business and labor communities — to raise the minimum wage.” And “we need to … find a consensus on paid leave for Nevada’s workers,” he said. He offered no specific preferences on either issue.

He called for longer early voting and same day voter registration, a “Patient Protection Commission” to protect people “from being gouged on prescription drug prices,” and said he is opening a Governor’s Office for New Americans to help immigrants “navigate government services, build new businesses, and let them know that they are welcome here.”

It was not the speech Adam Laxalt would have given.

State Sen. Kelvin Atikinson said there wasn’t anything thing he hoped to hear that was left out. “I’m happy with the speech,” he said. “He talked about education, health care, the minimum wage. The question is, can we get it all done (in the session).”

Meanwhile, although for different reasons, progressive activists and business leaders shared similar reactions to Sisolak’s speech – optimism, but wariness, and an eagerness to see details of legislation.

A “persuasive vision”

In Las Vegas, members of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada were playing State of the State BINGO with topics they were hoping to hear during the speech.

Issues like health care, mass incarceration, renewable energy, and minimum wage were marked off.

“I think Gov. Sisolak laid out a very persuasive vision for Nevada,” said Laura Martin, the executive director for PLAN. “It’s about addressing systemic issues.”

Martin is eager to see how some of those topics play out in the next 120 days.

“I want to hear more specifics about housing,” Martin said. She adds that though “he didn’t say a number” when it comes to raising the minimum wage, having a governor address that it needed to be raised is a step in the right direction.

Many members of the audience leaned in on their seats as Sisolak began talking about criminal justice reform.

Part of this included plans for parole and probation. “I am recommending we add new staff who will focus on supporting mental health and substance abuse programs and handling the increased caseload in the Parole and Probation division,” Sisolak said.

“Parole and Probation need to know they are not Robocop, they are case managers,” Martin said. “They need to help people get back on their feet and stay out of prison.”

At a separate watch party held by Make the Road Nevada, the overall mood was enthusiastic, and advocates described Sisolak’s priorities as “esperanzado” “optimistic” and “hopeful.” But they were also cautious.

“We all heard what the governor said and we know he’s not saying all that because he wanted to but because there is a community pushing him to address our problems,” Jose Macias, an organizer for Make the Road said. “I think our role now is to keep organizing.”

As he announced a 3 percent raise for teachers, the governor declared “Let’s show them our appreciation. But our educators deserve more than that. They deserve a raise.”

Adam Berger, a special education teacher at Oasis High School, was less than impressed.

“What worries me is that he didn’t say how long that 3 percent raise would last,” Berger said. “Is it going to be for one year? Is it going to be for two years? To me, 3 percent is not enough. It averages out to about $125 more a month. Teachers pay that amount of money out of pocket for  school supplies for our students.”

“For me, the most important thing is that he hardly talked about immigration,” said Martin Macias said in his native Spanish. “He’s always talked about immigration with Hispanic people but I didn’t hear any of that. So that worries me a little bit, because when someone wants to help they say it from the beginning. To get to where he is, he received a lot of the support from the Hispanic community. But I didn’t see a lot of support for our community.”

Macias promised that the community will pressure Sisolak to come back to discussing immigration as he did during his campaign, “presionando, presionando, presionando” said Macias. Pushing, pushing, pushing.

With the first majority women legislature, Olga Riepe, 70, was disappointed Sisolak did not mention criminal justice sentencing reform and the rising number of women in prison for non-violent crimes.

“I’m glad they are giving them classes and training them for when they get out,” Riepe said, referring to initiatives Sisolak outlined during his speech. But that doesn’t address the issue … there seems to be more women in prison than there needs to be.”

“It was like there was just a little appeasement for everyone, but it’s just a start,” Riepe said. “That can’t be the end.”

Business: Supportive, but also a “cringe-worthy moment”

Sisolak gave a shout out to the state’s 78,000 businesses with 100 employees or less. Those small businesses are likely to be among the most vocal opponents to his proposal to increase the minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 an hour for workers who receive insurance
benefits and $8.25 for those who do not.

“I think there’s a general gut level response of no increase at all for the minimum wage,” says
Scott Muelrath, President and CEO of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, which has 1,700
members. “The great majority of our members will be opposed.”

But Muelrath says being engaged in the process is better than being on the sidelines.

“Something’s coming. Just saying ‘no’ won’t be an effective strategy. We’ll work with the
governor and the Legislature to find an acceptable increase.”

Several proposals to increase the minimum wage are before the Legislature, including a joint
resolution, which, if passed by both houses, would appear on the 2020 election ballot and
presumably help drive Democrats to the polls.

“We’d like to see what the proposal is and the specifics and we look forward to learning more,”
said Cara Clarke of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. “I think minimum wage is an issue
that needs to be worked through the legislative process rather than be put on the ballot. That
gives everybody an opportunity to have a voice and look at unintended consequences rather
than lock us into something that may be unsustainable.”

Clarke says the Chamber also wants to see specifics on the governor’s proposal for sick leave
before taking a position.

Muelrath says many of his members are “already doing the right thing” when it comes to sick
leave.

“I would be confident it’s not something our members will support,” he says of the governor’s call
for leave. “I would hope there’s a carve out for small business and a scaled process if this
becomes reality.”

But Muelrath notes benefits such as sick leave are becoming essential to retaining good
employees.

“It’s a very competitive labor market and you need to offer the right benefits. In this economy
people will be changing jobs if you don’t.”

Muelrath says the governor’s call to clear the way for state employees to engage in collective
bargaining won’t be popular with his members, and he called Sisolak’s proposal to reinstate
project labor agreements for all public works projects, including schools, a “cringe-worthy
moment.”

“We really applaud him, first and foremost, for working within the current revenue streams to
address his priorities,” said Clarke, who also praised the governor’s commitment to supporting
small enterprises via a new Small Business office within the Lt. Governor’s realm.

Muelrath also praised the governor’s capital commitment to higher education.

“I was glad to see him single out Nevada State College and College of Southern Nevada as far
as capital.” Muelrath said. “That was an important priority for the Chamber last year to support
workforce development. We’ll definitely be backing that up.”

“I’m also pleased to hear about the STEM training. Those are gaps we’re looking at from a
workforce development standpoint. You can ask almost any company. The lack of technical
skills is a big issue.”

The Nevada Resort Association also expressed support for much of Sisolak’s agenda, if cautiously. “We look forward to learning more details about the proposals unveiled tonight and working with the Governor and the legislators,” said association President Virginia Valentine.

Meanwhile, the hospital industry welcomed Sisolak’s announcement of the largest dollar amount committed to Medicaid in state history and an increase in hospital reimbursements for neonatal and pediatric patients.

Raising Medicaid reimbursements across the board is a priority for Nevada hospitals, which
have endured relatively flat rates for decades.

“Sunrise Hospital is pleased with this positive first step that the Governor addressed in his State
of the State comments,” said Todd Sklamberg, CEO of Sunrise Hospital.

“We look forward to working closely with the Governor and Legislature to continue to enhance
reimbursement for Medicaid in our state.”

 

—————–

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s State of the State Speech, as prepared for delivery

Mr. Speaker, Majority leader, legislative leadership, Madam President, distinguished
members of the Legislature, Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, constitutional
officers, Honored Guests …

Thank you all for joining me here tonight.

To my family – particularly our incredible new First Lady: Thank you for standing with me
on this journey… and for guiding me through this next chapter.
I also want to take moment to recognize a great Nevadan who passed away recently,
but left behind a legacy of fighting for the Silver State, former Governor and U.S. Senator
Paul Laxalt.

The start of the year, the start of a new legislative session, is a moment for reflection
— a time to think about the progress we’ve made.

Tonight I speak to the legislators who will make up the 80th Session of the Nevada
Legislature. And for the first time in Nevada state history — and in the history of the
United States — it’s a Legislature that is majority women.

Tonight, we are joined by the newly-elected and appointed women who took the leap
this past year — and together, made history.

Would you all please stand?

Let’s give them a round of applause.

This is a milestone that’s been generations in the making — thanks to women like Dina
Titus, who not only served in this legislature, but has gone on to represent us in the halls
of Congress. And tonight we’re joined by two of the pioneers who also helped make it
possible:

Barbara Buckley, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the Assembly
and Sue Wagner the first woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor in Nevada.
Barbara and Sue: Would you please stand as well?

To them…
To all the women here tonight…
And all the women who have served before — including the one and only Debbie Smith,
who I know is smiling down on us…
This night belongs to you.

And as a dad of two daughters, I am especially grateful to know that every little girl in
Nevada has role models in all of you. And let me just say, that includes our lieutenant
governor, Kate Marshall. Kate – I look forward to working with you on behalf of the
people of Nevada.

And that work is important because for the last decade our economy and our families
have faced some of the hardest economic times.

Tonight, we can acknowledge the progress that’s been made. And that’s important to
do. But before we get lost in celebrating, we have to remember our families who haven’t
felt the recovery – who are still working two jobs, who are worried about paying for
college for their kids or a medical bill for their parents .

The budget and priorities that I will outline tonight are focused on this objective: making
sure that Nevada’s economic recovery reaches every family, that our schools prepare
every child to reach their potential, that our health care system is there for every
Nevadan that needs it.

The time is here to ask what kind of state we want to be. It’s on all of us – Democrats and
Republicans alike – to reach higher than we ever have and to ensure economic success
makes it to every dinner table in Nevada.

And so…While we have work to do, I stand before you and am proud to announce that
the state of the state is full of opportunity.

Let’s start with some numbers.

We are anticipating General Fund revenue of more than 4.3 billion in 2020, up nearly 3
percent from 2019. And in 2021, it’s projected to rise even more — to nearly 4.5 billion.
Nevada’s economic growth happened under our current revenue structure — and as
they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s why this budget is presented without any new
taxes . Let me say that again. This balanced budget does not contain any new taxes .
While revenue is up today, our history tells us what pain an economic downturn can
bring.

At the height of The Great Recession, difficult choices were made including cuts to
education, medical services, and job training, at the very moment people needed them
most.

Then-Speaker Barbara Buckley sponsored legislation to require the Governor to reserve
one percent of our total anticipated revenue for the Rainy Day Fund.

As she put it at the time: “Creating programs in good times to slash them in bad times is
senseless.”

She’s right. This isn’t only the fiscally responsible thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.
Besides, how can we tell our children to save their money for a rainy day if our
government doesn’t even do it?

Last year marked the first time since the law passed in 2011 that Nevada lived up to
that commitment…

…and today, I pledge to make this a pattern: My budget will include annual savings of
$45 million for the next two years to preserve and grow our Rainy Day Fund for those
dark days when we will truly need it.

As we saw in our latest jobs report: Businesses are propelling our economy.

We now boast of being home to companies like Tesla, Google, Apple and Amazon- just
to name a few. We have welcomed Hyperloop One, and a burgeoning drone industry.

And we have become ground zero for the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will come
with blockchain technology.

Last fall, Tesla, Blockchains LLC and other high-tech neighbors in Northern Nevada
became part of what is now known as Innovation Park – a place to incubate visionary
thinkers, developers, and others who will design our future.

And just last month, several of our legislators formed a Technology Caucus, to review
the needs of our growing tech sector, and promote the success of these ventures.

We are also working to ensure that we give our students the skill sets required to
succeed in these industries, with STEM education being more important than ever
before.

And when it comes to jobs, we are now one of the fastest growing states in the nation.
Over the past year, non-farm employment has increased by more than 45,000, with
gains in construction and manufacturing; education and health services; trade and
transportation and more.

We have our business community to thank—not just large companies whose arrival in
our state makes headlines , but small businesses too – including the over 78,000
employers in Nevada with 100 or fewer employees.

As Governor, I will work to make it easier for our small businesses to thrive by
streamlining complicated processes, eliminating red tape and needless regulations,
and putting a Small Business Advocate in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. Let’s
give our small businesses a hand!

One of those sectors is the rapidly growing marijuana industry. That’s why I’m
announcing that next week I will sign an Executive Order creating Nevada’s first-ever
Cannabis Compliance Board, which will ensure this critical part of our state’s future
economy is positioned to become a gold standard for the nation.

We will manage and grow this new industry strictly and fairly and in a way the State can
be proud of.

But with new jobs and economic growth comes an added challenge – making sure
everyone who wants to live and work here can afford to do so.

To that end, I will be supporting the recommendation to create a new program which
will offer $10 million of state tax credits per year for the creation and preservation of
affordable housing.

I want to thank the Chair and members of the Committee that studied Affordable
Housing this past interim for their hard work on this proposal.

This, alone, won’t solve our housing crisis — but it’s an important first step… and will
make a real difference in the lives of low-income Nevadans who will have a safe and
secure place to call home.

At the root of our affordable housing crisis lies another fundamental problem – too
many Nevadans are making too little.

That needs to change and it needs to start by giving Nevadans a well-earned raise.

Even as our economy improves, too many folks are still working two jobs to get by
— even more are living paycheck to paycheck.

That’s why I am committed to working with the legislature — and the business and
labor communities — to raise the minimum wage in our state. It’s impossible for an
individual, let alone a family, to live on $7.25 an hour.

And not only that – we need to ensure equal pay for equal work and to find a consensus
on paid leave for Nevada’s workers. It’s the right thing to do for our families.

At the same time, I’m recommending a 3% pay increase for our state employees
— whose work enables us to provide medical and social services to our people, assist
new businesses; and keep our roads and highways safe.

During The Great Recession, many of them took pay cuts — or went without salary
increases — but they continued to faithfully serve Nevada. Their skills, knowledge,
experience, and devotion have been invaluable to our state.

We are in a position to give our workers a raise, and we expect great return on that
investment. I also believe they should be empowered to bargain collectively in the years
ahead.

And to our state agencies – we must open our doors. It’s time to let employees know
what options they have.

And while on the subject of wages, I want to make one thing clear:

This session I will work to return prevailing wage to public construction projects–as it
was before the 2015 session–including, and most importantly, for our children’s schools.

Not only do prevailing wage laws support highly skilled workers in Nevada, they
guarantee our children are learning in well-constructed, high quality educational
facilities. Let’s do this.

As we work to improve our wages and continue to focus on economic development, it’s
critical that we invest in a workforce that will be job ready.

That’s why I plan to increase funding for graduate medical education by $2 million per
year. Because the medical students of today will be the doctors of tomorrow.

We must continue to invest in our higher education system. In addition to funding for
student enrollment growth, I am recommending funding for two new buildings: a health
and sciences building at the College of Southern Nevada and a new education building
at Nevada State College.

When we invest in building these places of learning, we create the educators and
medical professionals of tomorrow.

And I appreciate NSHE’s efforts to improve our graduation rates and overall student
success.

Obtaining that degree or certificate is challenging for many of our students. That’s why
we will increase funding for Nevada’s scholarship programs to open new opportunities
for thousands of Nevada’s students to earn their degrees and workforce credentials.

But there’s another element of higher education that too often doesn’t get the respect it
deserves….apprenticeship and job training programs.

Success doesn’t always have to start with a four year degree. Quality job training
programs, apprenticeships, business partnerships, and community college degrees can
help Nevadans of all ages get the skills they need for the jobs that are out there today.

That’s why I’m recommending increased funding for Career and Technical education to
serve an additional 2,000 students.

So far we’ve talked about a number of important issues, but there is no issue more
important to me than making sure every child in every classroom gets a great
education.

And you know what? That starts with having a great educator at the front of the room.
These are the people we are entrusting to prepare our kids for the future. They need to
be treated as the professionals that they are and respected for the job they do. Let’s
show them our appreciation.

But our educators deserve more than that. They deserve a raise.

It has been over a decade since the state has directly funded a raise for our K-12
educators. Tonight, I want that to change.

Legislators, I am asking you to stand with me and stand with our educators by including
them in the 3% pay raise for state employees for the first time in 12 years.

Right now, too many teachers have been forced to dig into their own pockets to make
sure their students have basic supplies—like markers, erasers, pencils. It’s a beautiful
sign of their commitment. But it’s also grossly unfair.

So I am proposing additional funding to reimburse teachers for supplies they need for
their classrooms — raising the total from $100 to $180 per teacher.

I am also including a one-time appropriation for Washoe County to correct an $8.6
million mistake that was made in the past. But to be clear, those kind of mistakes will not
be tolerated under my watch. The time for band-aids and short-term fixes is over.

I also look forward to working with Legislative Leadership to review the decades old
Nevada Plan to ensure that tax dollars for education follow the student. We have to
make sure our statewide funding formula is equitable for every student in every county .

My recommended increase in funding for the New Nevada Plan will increase from $36
million to $70 million per year meaning that an additional 28,200 at-risk students will
receive the academic support they need, no matter what school they attend.

Additionally, I am recommending for the biennium:

$44.7 million to ensure access to quality pre-school development programs;
$63.4 million for Read by Grade 3.
Approximately $100 million for Nevada’s Zoom Schools.
And $50 million for Victory School programs.

Because not only do we ask our educators to teach our students, we rely on them to
keep them safe as well. The need for safer schools is a dark reality today, and we need
to fund these initiatives.

I want to thank the Statewide School Safety Task Force for their hard work identifying
key proposals to enhance security at our schools , including more police officers, and
funding for additional social and behavioral health workers.

We cannot expect to successfully address violence and issues in our schools unless we
invest in people like Arika Marquez, who is here with us tonight. Arika is a counselor at
Clayton Middle School in Reno.

By doing her job every day, counselors like Arika are preventing violence, helping
students, and saving lives.

Arika, please stand and be recognized for your work.

That’s why a portion the 10 percent marijuana tax will go towards preventing violence in
our schools.

As Governor the safety and security of our families is my most important job.
Our country is plagued by the epidemic of gun violence —something Nevadans have
come to understand all too well. We are still reeling from the losses we suffered on 1
October. And now , at long last , we’re going to take action .

I am working with the Legislature to implement commonsense background checks on
all firearm sales in Nevada.

We will outlaw bump stocks.

And we will address the threat gun violence poses to victims of domestic violence in this
state. Those subjected to restraining orders should not be allowed to buy a firearm.

Back in 2016, Nevadans voted to close the dangerous and deadly loophole in our law
that makes it far too easy for convicted criminals, domestic abusers, and others with
dangerous histories to buy firearms at gun shows and online with no background check
and no questions asked.

It’s long past time we listen to the voters, and enact these changes. Because
background checks save lives.

As public servants, we have a responsibility to promote the health and wellbeing of the
Nevadans who sent us here.

Let me start by saying: as long as I’m in office, Nevada will continue supporting and
defending the Affordable Care Act, including all protections for those with pre-existing
conditions.

That’s why I am proud that Nevada has signed on to an amicus brief asking the courts
to prevent the Trump administration from rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s
requirement that employers include birth control coverage in health plans.

As Governor, I am committed to adequately funding women’s health care. Currently,
Nevada ranks last in the nation in the number of women who have a dedicated health
care provider. We don’t fare much better when it comes to cervical cancer screenings
or other forms of family planning. That’s going to change.

And that’s why we’ll be allocating 3 million dollars per year to provide more of these life
saving services statewide.

Like the life of Reno-native Ann Mackey, who in her early 20s started to have health
complications, so she scheduled an appointment at Planned Parenthood. During that
visit, they found early signs of cervical cancer that had gone undetected. Today, 20
years laters, Ann is doing well and is certain that Planned Parenthood saved her life.

We have to make sure that quality health care continues to be offered to every
Nevadan, not just those who can afford it. Our state took an incredible step when we
expanded Medicaid. It gave the chance for hundreds of thousands of Nevadans to go to
the doctor and gain the coverage they need.

My recommended budget represents the largest investment of general fund dollars to
the Department of Health and Human Services in Nevada history.

Here’s how.
—first, by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for Neonatal and Pediatric
Intensive Care Units, we can provide for our youngest patients and make sure they have
access to the health services they need.
—second, we’ll reduce the waitlist for children with autism to get assistance
—third, we’ll increase access to mental health services, upping the hours that our
Mobile Crisis Units operate.
—and finally, too many individuals and families struggle with substance abuse. We can
and should do more to make the healthcare system work for everyone.

People like Nikki and Kayden Yowell from Winnemucca, who are here tonight. Nikki lost
her husband and Kayden lost his father to substance abuse. What Nikki and Kayden
have faced is unimaginable–but it’s all too common.

We can no longer allow this epidemic to plague our communities and destroy our
families. It’s time to fix it.

This investment will let Community Behavioral Health Centers expand from three to ten,
allowing them to serve additional adults and children with substance abuse issues.

But it’s not enough to just put numbers on paper.

I am committed to working with legislators, the Department of Health and Human
Services, and community stakeholders to ensure this funding gets down to the
Nevadans who need it.

In the coming weeks, I will create a Patient Protection Commission. Our goal will be to
take a comprehensive view of health care in Nevada–to evaluate what we’re doing well,
and more importantly, what we can do better including protecting Nevadans from being
gouged on prescription drug prices.

Now let me turn to another important issue —

I’d like to ask all of our active military and Veterans, including Brigadier General William
Burkes and Lieutenant Colonel Retired Gary Utterback who led us in the pledge to
please stand and be recognized.

The plight of our Veterans is too often ignored. These are the heroes who risk their lives
for our country—and our state. And yet they don’t always receive the support they need
when they come home.

For example, we have an estimated 5,000 underserved veterans in the Fallon and
Pahrump service areas – a number that triples if we consider family members eligible
for services.

And we know that Veterans – like others in rural areas – have difficulty accessing health
services. They also face poverty, homelessness and substance abuse, but services are
available only if they can access them.

That’s why we are adding additional Veteran services officers to help them access the
federal benefits they deserve – more than $114 million in federal funds annually that will
improve the quality of care and quality of life for our Veterans and their families.

We also need to look out for our fellow Nevadans who need a little help to get by.

From our elderly residents, who rely on food from Meals on Wheels to our foster families,

I want you to know that you will not be forgotten.

This year, we will increase funding for Meals on Wheels by more than $800,000 , allowing
us to to feed over 8,700 seniors and eliminate the current wait list.

And then, for the over 2,000 foster family homes across our state, we’re going to
increase funding to help foster parents cover the cost of child care.

There’s another conversation that we need to have, and it’s about our criminal justice
system.

We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different results.

We can be tough on crime…and still reduce recidivism.

We can lock up violent criminals…and work to identify the low-level offenders who are
ready to earn their second chance.

That’s why I am recommending we add new staff who will focus on supporting mental
health and substance abuse programs and handling the increased caseload in the
Parole and Probation division.

This will be coupled with an increased investment in a pilot program aimed at providing
education and skills training for inmates – first championed by then-Senator Aaron
Ford.

In the first year of this program, over 80 percent of the inmates enrolled graduated with
either credits going towards a traditional college degree or a pre-apprenticeship
experience.

I’d like to recognize a special guest here with me tonight: Professor Kevin Mitchell, of the
College of Southern Nevada. Professor Mitchell has years of experience teaching in the
CSN prison education program and currently teaches at High Desert State Prison,
which the First Lady and I recently toured. He has seen his students reintegrate into our
community and start productive careers. Professor Kevin Mitchell, please stand.

This additional investment will reduce the recidivism rate, save our state tax dollars, and
make our streets safer.

We are all lucky to live in the most beautiful state in the country. Hands down. But to
keep it that way, we need to recognize the serious environmental threats facing our
state.

Let me be clear: I will not spend a single second debating the reality of climate change.

It is real, and it is irresponsible to ignore the science that proves it — and the lives it has
already upended, especially across the West.

As Governor, I am committed to making Nevada a clean energy leader — not only to
combat the effects of climate change for future generations, but also for the
abundance of green-collar jobs we can create right now.

Nevada used to lead the nation in producing renewable energy. Sadly, we’ve fallen
behind. Take our Renewable Portfolio Standard. We used to be number one, and now
we’re not even in the top ten.

That’s why I strongly support the goal of achieving a minimum of 50% in renewable
energy by 2030. And I know we can meet these standards without raising the cost of
electricity for the ratepayers of our state. It’s time to make it happen.

In 2017, the Legislature proved they have the political will to reclaim our spot as the
nation’s clean energy leader. When you send me that bill, this Governor will sign it.

Because allowing Nevada to lead when it comes to renewable energy isn’t just good for
job growth or energy rates, it helps preserve and protect Nevada’s incredible natural
beauty.

We have some of the nation’s most amazing public lands in our state. These lands
contribute to this state’s unique beauty, connect us to our past, and are the driving force
behind our thriving eco-tourism industry. We must continue to protect these
irreplaceable treasures.

And speaking of treasures, let me make something perfectly clear: Not one ounce of
nuclear waste will ever reach Yucca mountain while I’m Governor. Not on my watch.

We will work hand-in-hand with our congressional delegation and use every resource
possible to stop the federal government from turning our state into their nuclear waste
dump.

One thing remains clear across all these proposals – when you invest in Nevadans the
return can be immense.

And it’s why I am opening a Governor’s Office for New Americans — which will support
our newest neighbors, help them navigate government services, build new businesses,
and let them know that they are welcome here.

It will also provide assistance to DACA recipients and applicants — like a DREAMer I
met on the campaign trail named Deisy.

Deisy was brought to Nevada as a kid. She didn’t have documentation, but she cared
for her community and worked hard.

When Governor Sandoval did the right thing and signed a bill in 2015 that allowed
DREAMERs to obtain a teaching license, she jumped right on it.

Today, she’s a special education teacher at a public school in Clark County, helping
children with autism realize their potential.

I know Deisy is watching on tv so let’s give her a round of applause.

The Governor’s Office for New Americans is for people like Deisy who invest in the future
of our community every day.

We need to make sure each and every voice is heard. At the Capitol. In our
communities. And at the ballot box.

This past November, Nevada made clear that they support Automatic Voter
Registration. — and now, it’s on us to get it done.

So I look forward to making this a reality alongside Secretary of State Cegavske and the
legislature.

Voting is a fundamental right, and we should be looking for even more ways to make
sure eligible Nevadans can exercise it… which is why I am committed to working with
the legislature and local election officials to expand early voting — and to implement
same-day voter registration.

And I am committed to making sure every Nevadan is counted in our census. Because if
one of us is left off, that hurts all of us.

That’s why I am recommending additional funding for in-state efforts to ensure all
Nevadans are counted.

The proposals laid out tonight are presented with the goal of ensuring that every family ,
sitting around every dinner table , sees the benefit of the economic recovery that those
at the top have already felt.

Those in this room will not agree on everything. For example, some here might cheer for
the Wolf Pack, and some might cheer for the Rebels…but we can all agree that the
Golden Knights are the best hockey team in the state of Nevada…

These chambers were built to house debates worthy of the Nevadans we represent and
the futures they have ahead.

But in those debates over the paths we take, we must not forget what can happen when
civil discourse turns into partisan gamesmanship – it’s the people who ultimately lose.

Look no further than what’s happening in Washington D.C., where federal workers –
including 3,000 across Nevada – have become pawns in a political battle.
Nevadans deserve better, and we owe it to them and this great institution to show the
rest of the nation how it’s done.

So, I have a message for every legislator in this chamber tonight — whether you are a
Republican or a Democrat. We’ve got a busy four months ahead, we’ve got a lot of work
to do, and we’re going to be spending a lot of time with one another.

I want you to know that my door is open. We need good ideas from everyone . That’s
how we work together. That’s how we get things done. And that’s how we build an even
stronger Nevada.

Because I know that when every Nevadan has the opportunity to succeed, the state will
reap the benefit.

That will be my mission as your Governor…
…and the chance to see it through is the honor of my lifetime.

Thank you all.

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.
Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.
Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

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