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September 30, 2014

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The governor’s race:

Candidates for governor answer questions carefully and with few specifics

Candidates have lofty goals for Nevada, but keep specifics on ideas to a minimum

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Rory Reid, left, says, “Strong schools key to attracting new jobs.” Brian Sandoval, right, says, “It’s time to make jobs a priority.”

How would you close the state’s estimated $3 billion budget gap? If your plan includes cuts, please note where they would be made

Rory Reid: I look forward to debating this issue during the Sun-sponsored debate. I will release a detailed budget plan in the coming weeks. To ensure a balanced budget, we need to grow our economy and cut back some areas by:

• Finding efficiencies wherever we can and cutting waste.

• Reinventing Nevada’s outdated state government for the 21st century, using new thinking to do better with less.

• Making tough choices to live within our means.

Brian Sandoval:First, I think it’s important to note that we are still unsure of the exact amount our state’s budget will fall short. That said, my short-term budget deficit plan (tinyurl.com/2d6aeuv) would serve as the foundation for solving the deficit. I understand that my plan makes tough decisions, but I firmly believe these decisions are better than mass layoffs, deficit spending and/or increasing taxes. Those principles will be the hallmarks of any plans I put forth.

Is there any circumstance in which you would consider raising taxes or renewing taxes set to expire next year?

Reid: Now is not the time to raise taxes on Nevada families. People are hurting, with unemployment and foreclosures at an all-time high, and we can’t aggravate the situation further by taking money out of families’ pockets. However, I will not cut education further because strong schools are the key to building a better economic future and attracting new jobs.

Sandoval: No. I believe that raising taxes is exactly the wrong thing to do. As a former judge, I look at the evidence, and nowhere have I seen any evidence that raising taxes creates jobs.

How will you and your team work with Gov. Jim Gibbons’ administration to ensure a smooth transition?

Reid: Coming from local government, I’m accustomed to problem solving that sets aside petty partisanship. As a Clark County commissioner, I have balanced a roughly $6 billion budget for eight years without raising taxes. I have worked with a variety of departments and constituents to ensure work gets done. The governor’s staff has already reached out, and I trust they will work with us to ensure a smooth transition for the good of all Nevadans.

Sandoval: If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I would hope to work with the governor and his staff on all levels to ensure a smooth transition. We have already agreed to work together to establish open lines of communication with those in the administration in order to be prepared to hit the ground running.

Why has Nevada failed to diversify its economy during recent decades and what would you do differently to ensure it happens now?

Reid: The reason we are in this situation, where painful cuts are necessary, is because the root problems — strengthening education, and doing the heavy lifting to bring new industries — have not been addressed. Today Nevadans feel the pain of this recession more than in other parts of the country because our state has relied almost entirely on tourism. That’s why on the first day of my campaign I released a detailed plan for economic diversification and job creation.

Sandoval: The reality is we have to become more aggressive in recruiting businesses to Nevada, but equally important is protecting the invitation — keeping Nevada a low-tax, business-friendly environment. As governor, I will personally work to recruit new businesses to our state and keep the businesses we have in Nevada here. To get Nevada working again, it is vital that we diversify our economy to bring new and dynamic businesses to our state.

Besides a state budget, name three bills you would propose and promote next year.

Reid: During this campaign, I have offered detailed policy proposals for rebuilding our economy by drawing new industry and jobs; transforming our education system as the foundation of our economic future; and building a foundation of trust through greater transparency in government, stricter ethics laws, and ending the revolving door of lobbying. Those priorities would be reflected in my first-term agenda as governor.

Sandoval: End teacher tenure, end social promotion of our children and give parents choices to seek the best possible education for their children; increase the budget for economic development; and make the director of economic development a cabinet-level position — it’s time to make jobs a priority.

Should local governments, including counties and school boards, be given the power to raise taxes?

Reid: Yes. I come from local government and have been a Clark County commissioner since 2002. The state has continually used local governments’ funding as a way to plug its own budget holes. I would not be in favor of raising taxes at the local level. However, local governments and school boards should be given more autonomy over their budgets and laws. In short, I favor increased home rule.

Sandoval: I believe government closest to the people is the best government. I believe local governments should have the authority to budget their own funding. That said, with the transfer of taxation authority comes a duty/burden to deliver services. A sensible and timely transition of authority should occur before local governments can ultimately stand as independent taxing entities for themselves.

Many lawmakers believe Clark County pays a disproportionate share of taxes relative to what it receives in state funding. Is this a problem and if so, how would you address it?

Reid: We are one state, and we have an obligation to support all of our citizens, regardless of where they live in Nevada. That’s why we have a Distributive School Account that equalizes funding for education, for example. At the same time, the state should not take disproportionate funds from Clark County services to balance the state general fund.

Sandoval: I think we have to carefully explore a fair-share distribution of taxes based on the revenue we receive on a county-by-county basis. As a former legislator, I understand the budgeting process. That said, we have to make sure that we are meeting the needs of taxpayers where they live and that our tax policy is consistent with the delivery of services and we diligently distribute a fair share of appropriations.

Would you support or oppose an Arizona-style immigration law being proposed for Nevada?

Reid: Instead of a common-sense approach, what has occurred in Arizona is a misguided approach to a serious issue — and evidence of what can happen in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. It opens the door to violations of fundamental civil rights, drains public resources and undermines the relationship between law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve. I would not support this approach for Nevada.

Sandoval: As a former federal judge, I support Arizona exercising its right as a state when the federal government has failed to do its job securing the border. If Nevada is going to enact legislation, we must consult with law enforcement and other interested parties.

Do you support or oppose driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants?

Reid: After studying this issue closely, examining how solutions adopted by other states have been implemented, I do not believe that Nevada should issue driver’s licenses to the undocumented. I believe that comprehensive immigration reform must happen at the federal level, and states should not be left to implement piecemeal solutions to address such serious issues.

Sandoval: I oppose giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Nevada law requires proof of legal residency and a Social Security number to obtain a driver’s license. I support the law and oppose any changes to the law.

Do you support or oppose the initiative petition to require negotiations between local governments and public employee unions to be held in public?

Reid: I oppose this initiative. Contracts between unions and local governments are already open and acted upon in publicly posted and noticed meetings. Residents have ample opportunity to view and comment upon every contract — including union contracts — prior to approval by elected boards. I believe in transparency in government and propose a number of programs to make the state more open and accountable. But the only thing transparent about this initiative is its political motivation.

Sandoval: I am an ardent supporter of the open meeting law and as attorney general I made upholding it one of my highest priorities. Personnel matters and contract negotiations are specifically exempted from the open meeting law and I believe those exceptions are reasonable. Furthermore, all public employee contracts must be ratified by an elected body in an open meeting. Those elected officials should be held accountable. Given that, I believe this initiative is unnecessary.

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