Thursday, April 26, 2012 | 7:43 p.m.
Gov. Brian Sandoval defended his budget plans, an Internet sales tax agreement and economic development plan Thursday from conservative criticism, emphasizing in an interview on “Face to Face with Jon Ralston” that he is “still a fiscal conservative.”
He also said he’d decline an invitation to be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate, to which Ralston said: “Nobody believes that.”
If called by Romney, Sandoval said, “Respectfully, I would say no ... I intend to finish my term, and run for re-election.”
Sandoval has been getting blowback from some conservatives in the state over some of his recent policy decisions.
“Nevadans are not going to be paying one cent more in taxes than when I took office,” Sandoval said. He faced difficult decisions and had to balance “senior citizens, kindergartners and university students.”
Sandoval this year decided to support extending $620 million in taxes that will otherwise expire in 2013 to build his budget. He said in the interview he did not want to cut education, and the state faced growing public health care costs. The Nevada Supreme Court decision last year that prevented the state from taking money from the Clean Water Coalition also changed how the state builds its budget, Sandoval said.
Sandoval also recently reached an agreement with online retailer Amazon to start charging sales tax on purchases.
“This is about the small businesses of the state of Nevada,” he said. “These businesses are at a competitive disadvantage right now.”
Pressed by Ralston on whether this amounted to a tax increase, Sandoval said that state law requires people to pay the sales tax individually. He also allowed that hardly anybody is doing it.
Sandoval said economic development efforts are paying off.
Conservatives have criticized the direct tax incentives that the state will be able to hand out.
“In the real world, this is very competitive,” Sandoval said. Conservative governors throughout the country are aggressively competing for businesses, he said.