Democratic candidate for governor Rory Reid said he wants to help build a "fundamentally new economy" for Nevada, although he wouldn't say how he would enact his vision for reform when faced with a budget shortfall that could exceed $3 billion in 2011.
Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission and son of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed his election papers Tuesday morning in Las Vegas.
During a question-and-answer session with reporters Reid called for annual sessions of the Legislature, hinted he could balance the budget without new taxes and said if he were in the shoes of Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons he would sign a budget bill that calls for a 6.9 percent cut to the state's education spending.
"This is an exciting time because it provides an opportunity to do things we have never done before," Reid said of Nevada's budget problems and assertions from conservatives and liberals that state government needs major spending and revenue reform.
"Nevada has been doing the same old thing for decades. We've been reliant on tourism with some agriculgutre and mining thrown in," he said. "This is a time when we can expand our economy, do new things and I want to be a part of that."
Reid is the only Democrat so far in the race. On the Republican side, former federal judge Brian Sandoval leads all candidates in statewide polls, Gibbons has high unfavorable ratings and is considered a longshot to win another term and former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon is struggling to achieve high statewide name recognition.
Reid criticized Gibbons for proposing cuts to education, saying that quality education for residents is the foundation for changes he wants to see in the economy.
During a recent special session of the Legislature called to cover an $887 million shortfall, Gibbons proposed 10 percent cuts to kindergarten through 12th grade spending and more than 12 percent in cuts to higher education. Democratic leaders in the Legislature at first said they wanted to balance the budget without education cuts, then said they didn't want cuts to exceed 5 percent and eventually agreed to a cut of 6.9 percent.
Reid characterized the budget session as "taking out our bubble gum and scotch tape and piecing it back together" but said if he were sitting at the governor's desk today he would sign the compromise plan.
"A bipartisan group of legislators came together and did the best they could at the time. So, yes, I would sign the bill," Reid said. "What I'm saying is my candidacy is about ensuring that we are not in that situation again, that we are not faced with that kind of choice and if we do what I've suggested we won't be."
When asked whether he agreed with statements from Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, that Nevada's business community needed to contribute more money to support state services, Reid wouldn't comment specifically.
"Sen. Horsford is doing what he thinks is best for the state and I am really not going to comment on his point of view. I'm more interested in mine," Reid said.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at email@example.com or 702-477-3861.