Republican Governor Joe Lombardo delivered his first State of the State from the Nevada legislative building last night (see below). As The Globe predicted, the speech was optimistic in tone but fell short on reality as his appeal for bipartisanship hit a wall built by a Democratic majority led by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Speaker-Elect Steve Yeager.
The Democratic members rarely clapped at Governor Lombardo’s appeal for tax cuts, a one-year suspension of the gas tax, accountability in educational outcomes, increased street and school safety, energy independence, and a $1.6 billion commitment to the rainy day fund.
The Democratic majority did applaud his commitment to increase state employee pay by eight percent with annual bonuses of $2,000. Another Democratic round of applause was heard when the Republican governor committed to “equity” in education funding. Adopting the Democrats “Pupil Centered Funding Plan”, the governor will invest $2 billion dollars in new funding for public education, an increase of more than 22 percent from the current biennium. This investment will be weighted and distributed based on an equity model which prioritizes English language learners, at-risk students, and gifted and talented learners.
The governor’s budget proposes a historic increase of more than $2,000 per student next year. Working with the State Superintendent, the governor promised accountability and transparency and committed to “systematic changes in two years” if literacy rates and educational outcomes do not improve. The governor appealed to the legislature to reinstate former Governor Sandoval’s “Read by Three” law which was removed by the Democratic majority in 2019. The governor granted the public education system five years to improve literacy scores to ensure that students who are not proficient in reading be held back in the third grade until their scores improve.
Another investment in education will be a $730 million dollar allocation to the Education Stabilization Fund, which is a rainy day fund dedicated to K-12, and interest accrued on that account will provide scholarships to Nevada high school graduates who attend Nevada colleges and universities and are willing to teach in Nevada schools for five years.
The Governor campaigned on school choice, but fell short. As Victor Joeck’s of the Review Journal points out:
.@JoeLombardoNV as a candidate: Invest in ESAs, public schools need accountability and systemic change.
Lombardo as governor: If public schools don't produce results after I give them $2B then I'll demand accountability, no mention of ESAs and just $50M for Opp Scholarships. pic.twitter.com/dP0438QQmr
— Victor Joecks (@VictorJoecks) January 24, 2023
Power2Parent, the leading advocacy group for parental and school choice, believes that the Office of School Choice is the first step in a long road to education freedom and excellence.
— Power2Parent Union (@power2parent) January 24, 2023
Governor Lombardo will be submitting legislation to create the Office of School Choice within the Department of Education and will be working with Senator Heidi Gansert on expanding opportunity scholarships. The Governor stated, “for the first time, parents will have an advocate inside government promoting the expansion of school choice in Nevada.”
Governor Lombardo campaigned on election integrity, yet his proposals which included Voter ID, tabulation of ballots on election day, the elimination of universal mail in ballots, verification of ballot harvesters, and the end of partisan redistricting, is, according to Steve Yaeger dead on arrival and akin to “entering the Twilight Zone.”
Following the governor’s address, Senate Majority leader Nicole Cannizzaro reiterated that the Democratic majority is working to better the lives of all Nevadans. but did not commit on repealing the gas tax or any reform to the commerce tax or payroll tax. Cannizzaro did commit to helping non-Nevadans by prioritizing legislation to codify former Governor Sisolak’s executive order which protected women who traveled to Nevada for “reproductive health.”
Governor Lombardo closed his remarks with a quote from President Dwight Eisenhower, “The supreme quality of leadership is integrity” and committed to an administration that will govern with transparency, candor and integrity. As this was the first State of the State given in years due to Democrat’s emergency actions during the pandemic, his candor and transparency is a refreshing change, but the changes that the Governor has proposed to help Nevadan’s and businesses rely on the integrity of the Democratic majority who have repeatedly promised to better the lives of all Nevadans.Governor Joe Lombardo_2023 State of the State Address
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