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October 21, 2014

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STATE GOVERNMENT:

Las Vegas consultant Tom Skancke to replace attorney general on transportation board

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Sam Morris

Tom Skancke speaks at the Nevada Development Authority’s annual luncheon Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.

Tom Skancke, a transportation specialist from Las Vegas, has been named to the Nevada Transportation Board by Gov. Brian Sandoval under a new law designed to give Southern Nevada more representation on the panel that makes funding decisions for state road projects.

The 2013 Legislature, at the urging of Southern Nevada lawmakers, passed a bill to replace Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto on the transportation board with a representative from Clark County.

The board now has two representatives from Clark County, one each from Washoe County and the rural counties, Sandoval, the lieutenant governor and the controller.

Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, the main sponsor of the bill, said he thinks Skancke will be fair. He said, however, that Skancke never talked to him or other members of his transportation committee.

"I don't think he's a bad choice," Manendo said, "but I don't know who else was considered."

Over the years, Skancke has been named to various transportation study committees by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the late Gov. Kenny Guinn and former Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Skancke was appointed in 2006 by Guinn to the State of Nevada Blue Ribbon Task Force on Transportation, which reviewed financing Nevada’s highways. Gibbons selected him to serve on the Transportation Transition to help set priorities for infrastructure issues.

“I’ve been around the block, and it’s a great opportunity for me,” said Skancke, who has been involved in the industry for more than 25 years.

The transportation commission is probably second only to the state Gaming Commission in importance, he said. It has a big influence on such things as getting children to school, making it easier for tourists to come to Nevada and being involved in the international economy.

He said that in the next two months, he will be boning up on the issues facing the transportation system and will be meeting with the governor to discuss his goals and objectives.

Skancke said people like to “pitch a north-south” battle, but he’s going to look at his new position “with a statewide perspective.”

“I’m not going to get into a north-south split,” he said, adding that the highway system must be positioned to be in a global economy.

Clark County has claimed it is being shortchanged in the money being spent on state roads compared with the amount of money the state collects from the gasoline tax.

The state transportation department has been studying a plan to change the funding of highway construction through a tax levied on miles traveled rather than on gallons of gas purchased.

Skancke called this “the wave of the future.” He said he was the only member of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Committee to make a recommendation that the miles traveled be taxed.

Skancke will start his term on the board Jan. 1, 2014.

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