Sandoval bent on funding education

He wasn’t hawking Fuller Brush products or reviving the role of Willy Loman, but dapper Gov. Brian Sandoval was certainly in salesman mode when he arrived at the Review-Journal’s doorstep.

Following a State of the State address, which found him making an impassioned call for improved public education funding and reform, Sandoval has been hustling to make his case for the need to increase taxes by approximately $1.15 billion (including the $650 million in so-called “sunset” taxes on the books for the past decade.)

The most politically prickly part of the tax plan is the call for a $430 million increase in business license fees just weeks after Nevada voters fired up by angry business owners rejected a similar plan by a wide margin.

Sandoval will have to enlist support from some of those same people. Turning “Death of a Salesman” into a one-man show might be easier than persuading recalcitrant business owners to see the depth of his vision.

By his count, Sandoval said he’s visited hundreds of Nevada schools, including many of those in poor neighborhoods, and discussed education strategy with public education superintendents before arriving at the plan he outlined to Nevadans.

Longtime observers of state government, even some in the anti-tax camp, have called his ideas ambitious and even brave. But those can’t yet be counted as “yes” votes.

During an hourlong Review-Journal editorial board meeting, Sandoval was the sincere and studious Nevada family man whose persona appeals to so many voters. And he sincerely wanted to sell the skeptics on the panorama of his plan.

The business license fees plan broadens the burden to make it the simplest and fairest way of raising revenue, he said, unfolding a chart that at first glance didn’t appear all that simple. But just follow the X and Y axises, he offered, and business owners will find the fee that applies.

Somehow, that might not be the most difficult element of his sales job. In the coming weeks, he’ll need to bring his A game to find enough support from members of his own party for full-day kindergarten, an increase in gifted and talented funding, and another $24.1 million in bonding for an expansion of the hotel college at UNLV.

And Democrats long aligned with the public employee unions figure to suffer from sudden deafness when it comes time to discuss additional funding for charter schools and other changes to the tattered status quo.

In one respect, that’s what makes the moderate Republican Sandoval’s sweeping approach so impressive: There’s something for everyone to love — and hate. As long as the salesman can close the deal. For a fellow known to have political ambitions beyond Carson City, that’s a genuine gamble.

“I have to do what I think in my heart is best for the state of Nevada, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

He has some advantages. The economy and jobs picture are breaking in his favor. But he also has a hard-core group of Assembly conservatives who have minimized their own opportunity to make substantive change by espousing a No Taxes Forever rhetoric that reverberates with some voters but infuriates legislators who actually think their wrenches can improve government.

“I have to embrace the moment,” Sandoval said. “We’ve done the cuts. I’ve done the consolidations. We’ve done the (revenue) sweeps. I’ve done all that. I did make up my mind that I’m not going to move backward anymore. And I also made up my mind I’m not going to put a future governor through this.”

In Nevada, with its citizen Legislature and long history of special-interest influence, it’s always been easier to disable the engine of government than increase its horsepower. In a state in sore need of a master mechanic, we’ve usually been stuck with wrench-wielding grease monkeys.

It’s not because elected leaders haven’t cared that’s kept back Nevada, but because they couldn’t close the deal that’s kept the state sputtering when it ought to have been roaring toward the future.

Sandoval surely knows that.

Previous governors have been content to have their trusted insiders to shape and spin the narrative from behind the scenes.

Sandoval appears to be going door to door. Just days after the State of the State, his office held a background briefing to help break down the numbers and take some of the sting out of the proposals.

In addition to editorial board meetings at both ends of the state, his office started an email push reminding foot-draggers of the wickedly mediocre shape Nevada’s public education system finds itself in.

If he’s wise, he’ll keep it up.

Just hours after its members were sworn in at the Legislature, the conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute sent a stinging rebuke of the tax plan under the heading, “Sandoval’s tax hike higher than reported.”

Whether it’s $1.15 billion or $1.30 billion, it’s an elephant he’s going to have to persuade his GOP friends to eat if he’s to win the day. To do that, he might redraft a line from Arthur Miller and be willing to be “liked, but not well liked.” And if he must be feared, well, maybe there’s a place for that, too.

“Somebody has to take this on,” Sandoval said sounding every bit like a man on a mission. “I’m the governor. I have to lead, and I will lead. I’m going to defend this. If there are other good ideas out there, I’m going to listen.”

So let the horse trading begin.

Soon enough we’ll all know the depth of this salesman.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Email him at or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.

A record breaking donation of nearly $9 million to Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada
A record breaking donation of property valued at nearly $9 million was made to the Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada by the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal. @bizutesfaye
Multi-agency DUI Strike Team focused solely on arresting impaired drivers
The newly formed DUI Strike Team made up of Las Vegas police officers and Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers have hit the streets looking for impaired drivers. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christmas Tree Inspection
Nevada Division of Forestry employees search for illegally harvested Christmas trees in local lots during the holidays. (Michael Scott Davidson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
One dead in a suspected DUI crash in east Las Vegas
The crash was reported just before 4:10 a.m. at Washington and Eastern avenues.
Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like