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January 26, 2015

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Imagine the state of the state two years down the road

Dear fellow Nevadans, legislative colleagues, trusted lobbyists and out-of-work educators:

I stand before you, here in 2013, after my first two years as governor of this great state of Nevada, having not (pause for applause) raised (pause for applause) taxes (enjoy the applause). I want to again thank everyone who voted for me and my platform of not raising taxes and not being named “Reid.” I appreciate the chance to serve this great but still overtaxed state.

When I assumed this office in 2011, I gave an inaugural speech in which I talked about optimism and opportunity. Indeed, I used the word “optimism” 10 times and “opportunity” 13 times. And I’m proud to say that those subliminal messages have paid off. Traveling across Nevada in the past two years, everywhere I’ve gone I’ve seen optimism on the faces of our citizens, or at least I’m told it’s optimism. And I choose to believe that. I mean, anyone who thinks this isn’t a time of opportunity hasn’t talked to a mining-industry lobbyist.

But my governorship has been about more than buzzwords, like “opportunity.” It’s also been about catchphrases, like “no new taxes.” Taking office, I vowed not to raise them, not even to save education, and I lived up to that promise: We didn’t save education.

But as Nevadans, we must look at this situation through the lens of optimism: All the cutting we did, and the massive tuition increases we forced upon higher education, provided valuable math lessons for Nevada students. And the social skills they develop in 75-student classrooms will come in handy in the job market of the future.

Speaking of which, I have talked a great deal about the vital importance of diversifying our economy. Of the need to keep taxes low so we could attract new companies to our state. Create jobs. I pushed hard for that initiative, even though many people said that without a good education system, Nevada could not attract new business.

So I’d like to thank the self-storage companies, warehousing firms, call centers and payday lenders who have responded by moving here. Not one of these companies, I might add, raised “education” as a concern about relocating. And to those critics who mock the “dozens of jobs” created by these businesses, I ask this: Did you also count the security personnel? Because that really does bring the total up.

Before the last Legislature, special-interest groups said we couldn’t balance the budget without revenue increases. But it turns out that we could — it just takes a willingness to make tough choices for other people. And I have that willingness. And, frankly, those departments of government that remain are operating with marvelous efficiency. Plus, we now have plenty of empty schools we can rent to those call centers.

We also learned that if the state takes money from local governments, and local governments are forced to increase fees to cover their own deficits, I still didn’t raise taxes. (Pause for applause.) And I think it’s important to keep that in mind, at least for a few more Novembers.

In closing, my fellow Nevadans, we’re in a time of shared sacrifice — from your perspective, probably more sacrifice than sharing, to be honest — and maybe what that requires us to come to terms with is, instead of the great state of Nevada, we’ll have to settle for the still-existing-in-concept state of Nevada.

But I want to end on an optimistic note, and so I offer these four words of comfort: I’m not Jim Gibbons. (Pause for applause.) Thank you, and God bless.

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  1. All the sugary rhetoric in the world won't make the Gov's proposed "sacrifice sharing" palatable. It's a recipe for disaster.
    And it's a totally disingenuous lie.
    There will be sacrifice, but it will not be shared.
    As usual, however, those that would greatly benefit from some REAL shared sacrifice and some REAL common ground here, will rail on about how fair it IS. Go figure.

    The big difference between Gibbons & Sandoval is the smile.

  2. Very well said. Scott has accurately described the future and he didn't need a crystal ball to forecast it.

    It takes money to run a household, business or yes the state of Nevada. Oh but I forgot the recession, reduced property tax income, lost jobs thus lost income didn't contribute to the state's deficit it was those lazy, overpaid, worthless state employees!! Let's not blame the no "new taxes we don't need money" governor."

  3. Scott, I think that your assessment of two years hence is incredibly, overly optimistic, failed to mention the canned applause machine and unduly kind to Governor Sandtrap.

    Before you go to the northeast corner of your garage (that is still for rent, right?), light a candle for Nevada and stand before the altar of self-flagellation...

    You must take a bow for this unusual display of creativity and reread the list of new businesses and where they are setting up their new businesses.

    Scott...your the BOMB!!!

  4. Frightening. Just frightening. Will we ever learn? Will Nevada ever change?

  5. And btw, I love it when teabaggers compare us to California. It's as if they subconsciously know "no new taxes" is no kind of winning argument, so they have to resort to "The Great LIB'RUL California Boogeyman!!!" And funny enough, they don't even know what's happening there. Because the Prop 13 property tax scheme (allowing corporations to pay as little as pennies per acre on their massive properties!), massive corporate tax loopholes and giveaways, and everyone wanting everything from more prisons to bigger freeways without having to pay for them, California is a basket case. The only way they will get out of their mess is if they realize they need a more progressive tax structure, and the only way we will get out of our mess is if we stop coddling our ultra-rich and start investing in our infrastructure.

  6. It is amazing how you all can be wrong !!!

    Doesn't anyone have any solutions other than raise taxes? Isn't anyone calling for parents to get involved with their kids education? Lets try building closer families and relationships. Lets Try leaning on our families rather than government. Governments can't "fix" everything. It is up to people and families.

  7. The last thing anyone wants is to raise taxes on themselves. But the size of this budget deficit is huge, it is somewhere (depending on who you believe and what you count) upwards of 1/3 to 1/2 of the Budget. That is the equivalent of shutting down the whole State Government for a year or, at best 8 months. If you don't want to shut down everything, then the next biggest slice of State Expenditures is K-12. We could shut that down entirely and balance the budget.

    And no one is dealing with the problem of pensions, which if we used businesslike accounting practices, would vastly increase the real deficit.

    Do families pave the roads? Do families maintain the prisons or supervise released prisoners? Should these be up to families? If so, what would be the difference between Nevada and Somalia? Both will be failed states.

  8. I'm sorry, Rick, but when I see someone lay down on railroad tracks...

    Everybody is wrong but you, huh?

    Toot! Toot! Get off the tracks, fella!!!

    The Leric 8:39 Express just ran over you.

    Aw, too late...dead guy!

  9. Rick - when the State AGAIN robs Clark county of property tax money don't you think the county is going to have to raise fees, taxes, etc on us??

    You sound like one of those people who can not see reality - thinking everyone else is wrong and you are right.

  10. Dependency upon another - particularly governments - does nothing to help. What is happening in our economy is that those who are unwilling to make a greater effort are standing around while those willing to dig deep and do something are accomplishing it. This economy is either an opportunity to succeed or an opportunity to whine. Take your pick.

    Further, all the hand-wringing over diversification has become little more than a Silver Bullet promise. Is diversification important? Sure. Is it critical? Nope. It's more important to think back before the past 20 years, back before the construction-fueled boom brought 1.3 million new people, many with unrealistic expectations, to our valley, and get realistic about what Las Vegas is.

    We live and die by being an adult vacation destination that cashes in on an ethos that is not available anywhere else in America. It's time to reverse all that bland "progress" we have made, that strip-mall mentality that has stripped Las Vegas of its Vegas-ness, and get back to what we do best. Moreover, it's time we admitted that our economy can healthily support a ratio of 23-to-1 annual visitors to residents. The last few years have been around 19 or 20 to 1, meaning we need to attract millions more visitors or shed a few hundred thousand residents.

    Anyone waiting around for "better education" and "economic diversity" has a long wait that would be better spent either participating in what we have rather than wishing it was something else.

  11. Sandoval should give up his government taxpayer paid for medical insurance. Go buy your own policy Brian.

    Scott, go buy a 4 x 4, you'll need it to negotiate the pot holes and washouts.

  12. Just for the record, California's new (old?) governor Jerry Brown has also pledged "no new taxes" and is proposing similar cuts in spending, cuts in education spending, cuts in medicaid (Medi-CAL) spending, cuts in retirement benefits to state workers and on and on. The simple fact is that the political party doesn't matter on this one. WE NEED TO CONTROL SPENDING! Even our Democrat governor, Jerry Brown (who I didn't even vote for) realizes that. Of course, he's trying to get around the "no new taxes" by holding a special election for tax increases, therefore (assuming it passes, likely not) he can say the people voted to raise taxes, not him. Of course in the months leading up th this special election, we will see all of the ads on TV showing closed down schools and talking of police and fire personnel losing their jobs in order to scare the voters into approving the taxes.
    Things will get worse before they get better, for both states.

  13. Excellently written Scott. Thank you.

  14. 'Make all people receiving unemployment benefits work! If they want a check require a certain number of hours of hard labor everyday...'

    What a great suggestion! That idea should be sent to the governor immediately.

    The "hard labor" part should get these cretins motivated to get an education...

    And if you're right (and you probably are) about all of these people getting jobs in a couple of weeks, that would drastically cut the high unemployment of almost 15%.

    Lazy, lazy people, sitting around in their beautiful homes, likely lounging by a heated pool with NO intentions of even LOOKING for a job.

    ...but if these unemployed "loads" would just get a job like YOURS...

    ...then they could be perfectly positioned to pass judgment on complete strangers, out of a nearly jobless market.

  15. Taxes stabilize governments for, by, & of the people.