Although Democrats are expected to maintain control of the Assembly for the foreseeable future, how much control the party will wield in the chamber remains in doubt and will be decided in districts like Assembly 13.
That's where Democrat Louis DeSalvio and Republican Dennis Paul Anderson are campaigning to represent the swing district. Democrats controlled 26 of 42 seats in the 2011 session. They need 28 to hold the two-thirds majority it would take to approve tax legislation without negotiating across the aisle.
The winner in Assembly 13 on Nov. 6 will replace Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, who is running for a term in the state Senate.
The suburban Las Vegas district is closely divided with 11,980 active, registered Republicans, 10,790 Democrats and 4,888 nonpartisans, according to the August figures.
And each candidate brings a different political philosophy to the table. Anderson says the Legislature should make improving the business climate a priority and DeSalvio says improving education is the best route to improving the economy.
"Business growth, job growth," Anderson said in response to a question about his top priorities. "We need to support the governor and his initiatives to eliminate some regulations."
On taxes, Anderson said he doesn't necessarily agree with Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval that more than $600 million in temporary taxes need to be extended for another two years.
Anderson said it is too early to make that decision, despite Sandoval's earlier statements that he plans to include that revenue in his upcoming biennial budget.
"(Sandoval) has worked that into the budget cycle but that is based on the forecast and we are above the forecast," Anderson said. "I think there is a little room for negotiations on that."
Anderson didn't identify any specific programs or services that should be cut if state revenue can't cover expenses, although he said he agrees with Sandoval that many vital services have suffered enough.
"Most of our budget goes into education and health and human services and those have been cut significantly," Anderson said. "I would agree with the governor that we can't cut those any further."
For DeSalvio, who ran against Hammond for the seat in 2010, improving the state's education system is critical.
He said cuts to education funding have hurt programs aimed at helping young people identify and improve skills that will help them land a career.
"We were exposed to certain things, you were either going to go to college, you were going to go into the military or you were going to get a trade," DeSalvio said, describing programs to help kids prepare for a vocation or college. "By the time you graduated you had a general idea of what you wanted to do. They don't offer that anymore."
DeSalvio said he doesn't yet know where the money to pay to restore such programs would come from. He offered cuts to administration costs and potential partnerships with private employers as possible solutions.
"I need to see the budget. I need to see exactly how it is being spent to see exactly where it should come from," DeSalvio said.
On taxes, DeSalvio said the focus should be on value for taxpayers, not merely the amount of money paid.
For example, he said he favors "responsible bidder" legislation. That means contractors seeking to do work on public projects would need to show workers were trained through qualified apprenticeship programs.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285.