weather icon Clear

Nevada Gov. Sisolak lays out plan to achieve ambitious agenda

Updated January 20, 2019 - 7:18 am

CARSON CITY — Minutes after laying out an ambitious agenda in his first State of the State address, Gov. Steve Sisolak spoke with the Las Vegas Review-Journal about his goals for his administration and how he plans to follow through on his promises for Nevada.

His pledge of no new taxes grabbed headlines and even earned some praise for the Democratic governor from Republican lawmakers. But Sisolak’s blueprint for the Silver State also called for significant increases in education spending, including a pay raise for educators, along with stricter gun laws, increased Medicaid reimbursements and more.

“That’s what I campaigned on, that’s what people voted for, and that’s what we’re going to deliver,” Sisolak said in the interview.

He’ll have the benefit of a Democratic supermajority in the Assembly and a a near supermajority in the Senate. But Sisolak, who earned a reputation as a deal-maker in his time as a higher education regent and Clark County commissioner, knows that accomplishing his lengthy list of goals will take compromise, and he’s promised to work with Republicans to make his vision for Nevada a reality.

“We need to put partisan gamesmanship aside,” Sisolak said “We’re here to do a job. Let’s get the job done. Let’s listen to everybody and come up with reasonable proposals.”

While Republicans expressed support for his pledge of no new taxes, leaders of the party caucuses, including state Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, say Sisolak’s proposal to retain two taxes that are scheduled to be reduced or phased out is effectively a new tax.

“When a tax expires and you renew it, I think the N-E-W part of that means it’s new,” Wheeler told the Review-Journal Thursday. “Unless they can make some kind of deal with the Senate on that side, I believe it will fail.”

But Sisolak reiterated that he is “not proposing any new taxes,” and he said that if Republicans disagree with his budget, they should propose cuts.

“You’re always going to find people that want to criticize every proposal,” Sisolak said, noting that his budget calls for increased funding to education, mental health and substance abuse programs, prison and juvenile justice reform and Meals on Wheels for Nevada seniors.

“Do they want cut Meals on Wheels? Do they want to cut help for foster families? That’s the kind of thing that we’re talking about,” he said. “If they want to start cutting out of the budget and cut Meals on Wheels or cut mental health care, let them start making those proposals.”

Sisolak also called on Nevada lawmakers to pass a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage. The wage has not increased since 2011, when it went from $6.55 an hour to the current $7.25 for jobs that offer health insurance.

In 2017, a bill that would have raised the Nevada minimum wage to $12 for employees without employer-provided insurance and $11 for those with insurance passed on party lines. Then-Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed the bill, saying it could undermine the state’s economic recovery.

Sisolak has not set an amount for such an increase.

“I want the legislators and I want the affected interested groups, both the individuals and business groups, and everybody to sit down at a table and say, ‘Look, this is what we can agree on. This is what we can’t,’” Sisolak said. “Those are the kinds of discussions we need to have.”

However, the new governor was specific about one plan for raising pay. He is calling for a 3 percent raise for state workers and educators. State workers have not seen a pay increase in more than a decade.

Sisolak had discussed his desire to raise teacher salaries on the campaign trail, and he said in the interview that it is important to “show them that we care about them moving forward.”

“Teachers are underpaid, underrespected and overworked,” he said.

In his speech, Sisolak said he will create a Cannabis Compliance Board, which he envisions operating like the state’s Gaming Control Board.

“I am extremely proud of the gaming industry and the ways it’s regulated in Nevada. I don’t think anyone can argue (with the notion) that our gaming industry is the most well-run, well-regulated gaming industry in the world,” he said. “If we’re going to be in the cannabis business, and we are, I think it’s important that it is also a well-run, well-regulated industry.”

The governor said he sees the new board handling licenses, product testing, banking, advertising and any other number of topics relating to Nevada’s burgeoning marijuana industry.

He also said he hopes the board can create a universal set of regulations for the industry, rather than having cannabis businesses deal with varying local rules.

“I think it’s important that we have one good set of rules and everybody has to follow them,” Sisolak said.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation - VIDEO
The former senate aide claims Biden assaulted her in 1993 when he was a senator. Biden first denied the accusations via a public post on Medium. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RJ interview with Sisolak on the reopening plan for Nevada - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on the plan for reopening Nevada during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak reacts to Goodman CNN interview- VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman repeated her call to immediately reopen businesses during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, leading to a reaction from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak praises Nevadans for staying at home, saving lives - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday it’s still too early to know when the state’s COVID-19 shutdown orders could be lifted or when businesses could start to reopen their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump gives governors 3-phase approach to open US - VIDEO
President Donald Trump declared victory in America’s war against the “invisible enemy” as the president’s Coronavirus Task Force released “Opening up America Again” guidelines. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump names Jacky Rosen to task force on reopening economy - VIDEO
President Donald Trump named Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to be a member of his Opening Up America Again Congressional Group Thursday to advise him on coronavirus policy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for president - VIDEO
On April 13, former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his official endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders drops out of 2020 Democratic race for president - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont officially announced an end to his 2020 presidential bid on Wednesday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic National Convention postponed - VIDEO
The Democratic National Convention was set to take place over four days in the middle of July. Democratic officials have now confirmed the convention will take place the week of Aug. 17. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson allows immediate sale of alcohol with curbside pickup - VIDEO
The city of Henderson decided Thursday evening to allow alcohol to be sold by restaurants as part of their curbside pickup service during the COVID-19 crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak signs order banning any gathering of 10 or more people - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed a new order banning any gathering of 10 or more people in Nevada in another step the state has taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Takeaways from the president's daily briefing on coronavirus - VIDEO
RJ Washington correspondent Debra Saunders talks about today's daily White House news conference regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judicial Department 5 Debate - Video
The Las Vegas Review-Journal hosts a debate between the 3 candidates running for Department 5 in Clark County District Court. Participating are Veronica M. Barisich, Terry A. Coffing and Blair Cowan Parker.
Trump cancels Las Vegas trip because of ‘coronavirus outbreak’ - VIDEO
President Donald Trump canceled planned travel to Las Vegas ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump signs $8.3 billion coronavirus package - VIDEO
President Trump signed a bill providing $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreaK, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Cortez Masto shows support for Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto shows her support for senior state District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench in Nevada. (Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto)
Sen. Rosen supports Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen shows her support for Nevada Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench. (Sen. Jacky Rosen)
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews resigns following series of controversies - VIDEO
The "Hardball" host announced his departure Monday night, March 2, 2020, effective immediately. The anchor recently came under fire for comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucasus to the Nazi conquest of France in 1940. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Candidates file for office in Clark County - VIDEO
Amy Klobuchar drops out of 2020 presidential race - VIDEO
On March 2, campaign officials announced Amy Klobuchar’s decision to suspend her presidential bid. The news comes on the eve of Super Tuesday and just one day after Pete Buttigieg also announced his decision to depart from the race. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime cancer doctor takes the helm at FDA

New to Washington after a storied career in medicine, FDA chief Stephen Hahn talks about the coronavirus, hydroxychloroquine and his role in President Donald’ Trump’s coronavirus task force.

Trump praises Secret Service, says ‘vicious dogs’ were ready

President Donald Trump on Saturday claimed that many Secret Service agents were “just waiting for action” and ready to unleash “the most vicious dogs, and the most ominous weapons, I have ever seen” if protesters angered by his response to George Floyd’s death had crossed the White House’s security fence.

Secretary of state: Mail ballots distributed properly

The Nevada secretary of state’s office took an extra step Friday to clarify “ongoing confusion” over the all-vote-by-mail June 9 state primary, seeking to clarify misunderstandings over how mail ballots have been distributed.