Tuesday, March 22, 2011 | 6:49 p.m.
CARSON CITY — Sen. John Ensign said Tuesday that Nevada needs to reform education and the federal government needs to control its spending, in what he said will be his last address to the Nevada Legislature.
Ensign, a Republican who announced earlier this month he would not seek another term, said he would work to control spending in the 21 months he has left in office. He called for President Obama to take the lead on entitlement reform.
He said the federal government could save money and make Medicare improvements if it switched to a state block grant program. He said taking from Social Security should be “off the table.”
Ensign said the K-12 school system doesn’t need more money to improve. He applauded Gov. Brian Sandoval’s call to end teacher tenure and called on teachers to be paid based on performance.
“We have to be honest about our K-12 system. It is not measuring up,” he said. “How do we begin to bring companies to our state when there just isn’t an adequate job pool for them to hire from? We can’t.”
Ensign said companies have told him they are reluctant to move to Nevada because of the K-12 system.
“They mention that the tax climate is desirable but tell me our K-12 system is inadequate,” he said. In a press conference afterward, he said “dozens, dozens, dozens” of businesses have expressed concern about the state’s education system.
Sandoval, as recently as Monday to Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston, said businesses have not expressed similar reservations to him.
Ensign said in a briefing with reporters that he believed Rep. Dean Heller, who announced a run for Ensign’s seat, was a “great candidate, a good candidate.”