Las Vegas Sun

December 20, 2014

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Sun puts Brian Sandoval, Rory Reid in the hot seat

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Rory Reid

Rory Reid

Though some might believe the problems they are facing demand bold action, the two major candidates for governor are taking cautious approaches to questions about how they would tackle the job, if elected.

Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid and former federal Judge Brian Sandoval seem to occupy similar ground in their governing philosophies, agreeing on most issues while clamming up about what they would cut to balance a state budget expected to come up $3 billion short next year.

The Las Vegas Sun asked the campaigns of the Republican Sandoval and the Democrat Reid 10 questions about issues they are likely to confront as the state’s CEO. Both candidates are running as moderate to conservative on the ideological scale, reflecting their belief that the electorate is in an anti-government mood.

Hence, neither Sandoval nor Reid says he would raise taxes.

The first major task the governor-elect will tackle is putting together a budget while facing a gigantic difference in expected tax revenue and the cost of providing existing services.

Sandoval’s ideas included selling state buildings for one-time cash and leasing them back, cutting teacher and state worker salaries, and combining some programs while protecting services for the poor and middle class.

Reid went with the tried-and-true promise of “finding efficiencies,” “cutting waste” and “making tough choices to live within our means.”

They differ on how to diversify Nevada’s economy, perhaps the most pressing question facing the state because its reliance on gaming and development is widely viewed as the cause for its protracted recession.

Reid said the key to economic diversification is to strengthen education. He has promised to spare it from any cuts.

Sandoval said the next governor has to work harder to attract businesses and spend more on economic development.

He said it is important to keep Nevada low-tax and business-friendly.

Sandoval said he supports Arizona’s immigration law, but left himself a loophole when it came to whether Nevada needs such a law. He said he would have to consult with the state’s law enforcement officials.

Reid called Arizona’s law a “misguided approach” that was evidence of failure to enact comprehensive reform at the federal level.

They both oppose driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

They both say they would not raise taxes, but fail to detail how they would fully bridge the budget gap.

For policy wonks, the most revealing answers might have been to whether they would support giving local governments the power to raise taxes.

Reid said yes. “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,” he wrote.

Sandoval said, “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.”

What could that mean? Sandoval and Reid would put at least some of the state’s budget burden on local governments, and have them raise taxes instead of doing it themselves.

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