Las Vegas Sun

September 25, 2016

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Reid, Sandoval clash over state budget in lively governor’s debate

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Ross Andreson / AP

Gubernatorial candidates Brian Sandoval, right, and Rory Reid debate Tuesday night at Great Basin College Theater in Elko. Insults were traded and reputations questioned in a feisty debate over the state’s budget crisis, political ambitions and job experience as early voting winds down and Election Day looms.

Gubernatorial debate

Gubernatorial candidates Brian Sandoval, right, and Rory Reid debate Tuesday night at Great Basin College Theater in Elko.  Insults were traded and reputations questioned in a feisty debate over the state's budget crisis, political ambitions and job experience as early voting winds down and Election Day looms. Launch slideshow »

In the most lively governor’s debate yet, Democrat Rory Reid aggressively attacked Republican Brian Sandoval for not presenting a budget plan, as the GOP frontrunner defended himself as being responsible and deliberate before telling voters what he’d cut.

Sandoval said he wanted to roll back spending to 2007 levels. Since then, he said, the state has lost population and caseload growth in many areas have been flat. He did not go into specifics on how he’d balance the state’s budget, other than to say he couldn’t promise higher education, K-12 and health and human services would be spared without raising taxes.

He has promised not to raise taxes.

Sandoval said voters needed someone who would be “up front with the state of Nevada.” He said Reid’s plan “balanced the budget through fantasy money.”

Early voting ends Friday and with election day a week away, Reid pressed Sandoval repeatedly on what he would cut from the state’s budget to maintain his promise not to raise taxes.

Reid said that Sandoval should be “ashamed” and “embarrassed” for not releasing a plan, his harshest criticism yet of Sandoval.

Out of the three debates, this was Reid’s most forceful, a reflection of the fact that Reid trails significantly in public polls. He had been criticized for a tepid response during the last debate, but Reid started off by pulling out another legal pad (white this time, instead of yellow) to demonstrate that Sandoval has not released plans on the budget or creating jobs, and has proposed cutting $533 million from education.

Reid’s campaign and other Democrats challenged Sandoval’s figures after the debate.

Spending passed in 2005 was at $5.8 billion; in 2007 it was $6.8 billion; currently it’s at about $6.3 billion for the general fund, according to Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas.

“To reset the budget to $5.2 billion, that would take us back to 2005 levels at best,” Horsford said after the debate. “Brian Sandoval wants to move us back to 2005.”

(Sandoval’s campaign said it was comparing spending to fiscal year 2007, which was passed in 2005.)

In the debate, Sandoval said that Reid’s promises to protect each area of the budget amounted to pandering, and would lead to him supporting a tax increase.

“If he’s presented with a budget with a tax increase, he said he’ll sign it and raise taxes on every single Nevadan,” Sandoval said. “Creating jobs — creating an environment for job creation, is the single most important thing a governor should do. The next governor must hold the line on taxes.”

Reid accused Sandoval of passing the buck, and allowing local governments to raise taxes and take on added services.

Sandoval did not deny that. But he pointed to a Las Vegas Sun questionnaire in which Reid supports giving local government home rule. (Reid later pointed out that his budget plan doesn’t rely on shifting services and taxes.)

Reid said under Sandoval, corporations would not get any tax increases. He said when he wakes up at 2 a.m., “I hear a voice saying it — that his real intention is to raise your property tax, raise your sales tax.”

Sandoval said, “With all due respect, I don’t dream about you.”

Reid said, “Those aren’t dreams. They’re nightmares.”

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