RENO – The two major party candidates seeking the job of lieutenant governor in the November general election both endorsed the Tesla deal in a debate recorded Monday for the Nevada NewsMakers television program.
Republican Mark Hutchison and Democrat Lucy Flores, both of Las Vegas, spoke favorably of the deal to bring Tesla to Northern Nevada, citing the job creation potential that comes from winning the fierce competition to have the electric car maker’s battery factory located in Storey County.
“The most important thing that we brought with Tesla, in my view, was opportunity,” Hutchison said. “A good job will solve so many challenges.”
Flores said the people of Nevada “got a very good deal” with the Tesla decision to locate here.
The half-hour discussion produced no serious dust-ups, although Flores did take Hutchison to task for not supporting legislation in the 2013 session to directly help the Washoe County School District repair its aging schools.
The issue came up during a discussion about Tesla and what impacts the Gigafactory will have on local services given the estimated 6,500 jobs and $1.3 billion in potential tax breaks provided to the company over 20 years in exchange for coming to Nevada.
Instead of taking direct action, the Legislature passed enabling legislation to allow the Washoe County Commission to authorize tax hikes for school construction, but the commission never took a vote on the issue.
State policy makers must ensure that school districts have the revenue they need to address this concern, Flores said.
Tesla has committed to a $7.5 million contribution per year for five years to public education in Nevada, but the funding won’t begin until 2018.
Hutchison said he supported the legislation enabling the Washoe County Commission to raise taxes for schools, just as he did for Clark County measures allowing local government consideration of tax hikes aimed at road improvements and additional police hiring.
“Local governmental authorities closest to the people tend to make the best decisions,” he said.
Both Hutchison, a state senator in the middle of his first term, and Flores, a two-term Assemblywoman, also pointed to their records in the Legislature, including working with the other party, as why they are qualified to serve as acting governor should Gov. Brian Sandoval leave office in the middle of his second term in 2016 if he wins reelection in November.
There has been speculation that Sandoval might challenge U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in the Senate race in 2016.
Flores also dismissed a Review-Journal poll evaluating lawmakers in the 2013 session that gave her the worst grade among members of the Assembly.
“It was a poll of a handful of people, political insiders, who apparently voiced some displeasure in the things that I do,” she said. “But I will never apologize for being a fighter for my community; for achieving really good things.”
The half hour debate will air in Las Vegas on Tuesday on Cox Cable Channel 123 at 4:30 p.m. It will also air Saturday on KSNV- Las Vegas – Channel 3 at 5:30 a.m. and will be available on the NewsMakers website at http://www.nevadanewsmakers.com/ by 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Contact Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.