Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006 | 7:02 a.m.
Gov. Kenny Guinn leaves office tomorrow after eight years, having changed state government in ways not normally associated with a Republican, especially in an era when too many Republicans demonize government.
His legacy will include:
Guinn took considerable criticism for raising taxes (and didn't get much credit for pushing a $300 million rebate two years later), but it was the right thing to do, coming a dozen years after the last state tax increase. While conservatives played Chicken Little, saying the economy would crumble after the tax increase, the economy came back stronger than ever.
Despite his calm, easygoing demeanor, Guinn was active in his two terms. He opened his first term in 1999 by auditing state government and then reorganizing it, cutting 800 positions and freezing another 1,600. He also privatized the state's workers' compensation program.
Guinn pledged to help improve health care in Nevada and had success beyond Senior Rx, restoring money to mental health services and opening a new and much-needed psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas.
Guinn made missteps to be sure, notably serving as the Nevada co-chairman of President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign after the president approved the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Still, Guinn did make Yucca Mountain a priority, pushing the state's legal fight and leading a fundraising drive to pay for it.
Above all, Guinn didn't let partisan desires drive his time in office and governed from the center. While we sometimes disagreed with him, we believe he had the best interest of the state in mind.
In the end, he leaves a legacy to be proud of.