CARSON CITY -- After being sworn in as governor on a snowy but sunny Monday, Brian Sandoval vowed to return recession-ridden Nevada to its former greatness within three years.
"The Nevada of my youth was a place of pride, activity, optimism and opportunity," the state's 30th governor -- and first Hispanic governor -- told a crowd of 400 gathered outside the Capitol in sub-freezing temperatures. "This has long been our state's heritage. And it must be our future as well.
"By 2014, we will emerge with a smaller, more efficient state government, an education system we can be proud of and a supply of good jobs transformed by a forever-changed economy."
He said that on the state's 150th anniversary on Oct. 31, 2014, days before the end of his term, "Nevada will be Nevada again."
That statement brought the most cheering from the chilled crowd.
Sandoval quickly followed up on his goals with action. Within moments after his 12-minute inaugural address, he issued two executive orders and a proclamation that indicate where his administration is headed.
"The key is getting people back to work," he said as he signed an order suspending any new executive branch regulations until 2012.
Sandoval said he wants to show business owners considering Nevada that the state will not impose any additional regulations or costs that would dissuade them from moving here.
"The worst thing that could happen is raising taxes in our state," he said.
In the meantime, he wants state agencies to review regulations and rescind those that harm business development. His order will not affect new rules needed to protect Nevadans' health and safety.
While reporters crowded around him in his Capitol office, Sandoval said the next state budget will be based on the $5.33 billion in tax revenue projections made by the Economic Forum, and nothing more.
The forum of five business leaders by law determines how much money the state will have available to spend in each two-year budget cycle.
"The state has only so much money to spend," he said.
Also, Sandoval signed an executive order that prohibits any state official from accepting gifts or compensation from any companies doing business with the state. He said that he wants prospective businesses to know of the order and that he intends to be on the phone every day talking to their CEOs about moving to Nevada.
The anti-gift order covers state workers, including Sandoval, his staff and members of his Cabinet. Food can be accepted, but only if it is part of a meal.
The father of three school-age children, Sandoval issued a proclamation calling on parents to dedicate at least 30 minutes every evening reading with their children at home.
He said the nonbinding proclamation is part of his effort to improve education and ensure all children read at grade level.
He also wants to develop a "new common assessment" to measure the reading proficiency of second-graders before the end of the current school year.
He added that he and his family -- which includes his wife, Kathleen, and three children, James, 15, Maddy, 14, and Marissa, 6 -- moved into the Governor's Mansion on Sunday night.
He said he would not require state workers or others to do anything he would not do himself. So the new governor also will be reading to his children.
"I take my oath proudly optimistic," he said after being sworn into office by Chief Justice Michael Douglas, the state's first black Supreme Court justice.
"My optimism is rooted in the spirit of Nevada. ... Together we will not fail. Together we must craft a new promise of opportunity for tomorrow, even if it means sharing in sacrifice today."
In his 1,383-word speech, Sandoval used the word "optimism" eight times and "opportunity" 10 times.
Before swearing in Sandoval, Douglas administered the oaths of office to Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, Secretary of State Ross Miller, Treasurer Kate Marshall and Controller Kim Wallin. All won election to second terms on Nov. 2.
U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who attended the inauguration, said Sandoval "delivered an inspiring speech, a great speech."
Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev, said Sandoval was "very direct" in his address.
"He had to be very honest with the public," Heller said. "These are tough times."
"I am impressed with him," added former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, R-Nev. "He is going to be a great governor."
Las Vegas businessman Bill Brady, a former legislator, said it was a terrific speech.
"More importantly, this is a governor who knows where he is going and how he wants to get there," Brady said. "He is committed."
Former Govs. Robert List, Richard Bryan and Bob Miller all sat at the podium as guests of Sandoval during the inaugural ceremonies. Sandoval said he would call on them for advice.
Ex-Gov. Jim Gibbons did not attend. Sandoval defeated Gibbons 2-to-1 in the June Republican primary. Sandoval said last week he has not spoken with Gibbons since a debate in May.
But the new governor thanked Gibbons for his "years of public service."
He also thanked former Gov. Kenny Guinn, whom he described as his "friend and mentor," saying "God saw fit to take him home sooner than we would have liked."
Guinn died when he fell from the roof of his Las Vegas home in July.
Sandoval also thanked former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, now 88. Sandoval said his first political job was as a Laxalt intern. Laxalt could not attend the ceremony, but Sandoval said he would be listening over the Internet.
Sandoval becomes governor in what might be the worst economic climate in state history. Unemployment is 14.3 percent, and state government revenue will be at least $1 billion short of what it was two years ago.
"We live in a time when the odds seem to be against us," he said. "The earth has shifted beneath our feet. The old rules no longer apply in a new global economy. And for some, the results have been disastrous. Nevadans from all walks of life are faced with unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcy -- hardships forged in the crucible of three long years of economic crisis. But character is measured in times of crisis."
He did not mention in the speech his campaign mantra of no new taxes, but he said the state must make "the tough choices, the right choices" if its future is to be bright.
"I believe it can be done," he said. "And I am optimistic that Nevada's best days are yet to come."
Fully aware of the potential battle ahead with the Democrat-dominated Legislature, Sandoval scheduled his first state dinner for state legislators Monday evening.
Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Reno, and Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, a minority whip, also sat on the podium.
"I am calling on all Nevadans to come to the table ready to tackle our problems without regard to political party, geography or personal agenda," Sandoval said.
The governor said last week his proposed two-year budget, which will be delivered to the Legislature on Jan. 24, will include budget cuts and salary reductions for state employees.
He said he will take a 4.6 percent reduction from his $141,000 annual salary, though by law he could receive an $8,500 boost in pay to $149,500.
To become governor, Sandoval gave up a lifetime appointment as a federal judge, which paid $172,000 a year. He is a former assemblyman, attorney general and Gaming Commission chairman.
He spoke of how he is an example of what opportunity can bring.
"My father was one of 10 children. My mother and her sister lived with their family in a tiny, two-bedroom house.
"When I was a boy, my parents brought us to Nevada in search of opportunity. From a little house in Fallon to my job cleaning sheep pens in Sparks, I learned the value of a day's work. I learned that service above self is a way of life," he said.
"The Nevada I know will choose action, courage and opportunity. We will choose optimism."
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.