Nevada education needs more money combined with accountability, but it’s too early to promise funding for Education Savings Accounts. There also isn’t a way to repeal the commerce tax next legislative session, and a gubernatorial debate is unlikely after Steve Sisolak rejected an invitation to debate on statewide TV. That’s according to Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt.
“The number one priority for all Nevadans and myself is education,” said Laxalt while filming Nevada Politics Today. “We have to turn the corner. Being at the bottom is simply not acceptable. I do think some of the reforms over the last few years have started to help us down that path. So I’m committed to those reforms and keeping them.”
Laxalt has promised to increase education spending by $500 million. He said Nevada “had a surplus going into 2017, and we certainly anticipate a similar or higher surplus going into 2019.” That money should go into a variety of educational programs, according to Laxalt.
“One area that I’m really focused on is trying to do a lot more with charter expansion as well as career and technical schools — trade and vocational training,” he said. “We have a great opportunity in this state to expand those. We’ve got waiting lists in every one of those places. We need to meet those needs. At the other side of those particular types of schools are really great jobs. Jobs that can be transformative for those families.”
As an example, Laxalt discussed students leaving a Las Vegas CTE school having learned skills that allowed them to work in Elko mining industry. “We need to make sure that we’re committed to matching our education system to the economy,” he said.
“We’re not just going to throw money in and hope it works out,” Laxalt said. “We need to make sure that we’re targeting the spending. We need to make sure it’s going into priorities.”
Laxalt said he supported school choice programs and wants to grow Opportunity Scholarships. Asked if he would provide at least $60 million in funding for ESAs, Laxalt said it would be “irresponsible for me to commit specifically, but it will be a priority.”
“I hope to convince the other side [that ESAs are] great for kids across our state,” he said. “This is great for kids in the lower economic stratosphere that they get a chance to be able to have opportunities that maybe they don’t in a failing school. We’re going to work to get that number as high as we can get it.”
The commerce tax will be included in Laxalt’s budget if he is elected, because “I don’t think there’s going to be any way to repeal the commerce tax,” he said.
There’s not likely going to be a debate between Laxalt and Sisolak, either, despite Laxalt accepting a debate invitation weeks ago.
“We’ve been waiting to debate Steve Sisolak,” said Laxalt. “We accepted a debate that was going to be statewide TV. It was going to include the largest paper in the state. It was going to include Telemundo.”
Sisolak announced recently that he wouldn’t be participating in that debate and proposed a debate hosted by a different Las Vegas TV station.
“Unfortunately, it’s going to be very hard to trust their camp that they’re going to be able to actually come with a plan and commit to a debate,” Laxalt said.
Asked about rumblings that independent candidate Ryan Bundy wanted to meet with Laxalt and possibly endorse him, Laxalt said that Bundy “never reached out to me. I read that in the paper just like you.”