Gov. Brian Sandoval has released his much-anticipated economic development plan to little fanfare. Economic recovery through diversification was one of the cornerstones of Sandoval’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, and although his plan is understandably not complete, I’m encouraged to see it.
Sandoval’s detractors have howled that it is indeed incomplete, but this is to be expected. Nevada has a big job in trying to remake our whole entire economy, for the days of California’s prosperity funding our casinos and consequently our treasury are over. No longer can we rely solely on gambling to fund everything. We need to have a reasoned, well-intentioned push to work together across the aisle on this, and now it’s time for Sandoval to step up and take control. He needs to use the considerable tools at his disposal not only to conceptualize and create a new economic vision and framework but to sell it convincingly to the citizens of Nevada and the world.
The Sandoval administration has tapped Steve Hill to lead economic development, and this is a tough job. Politics in Nevada and in the country is more divisive than ever, and Hill’s job is going to be one of unifier, even in the face of the special interests on both sides stamping their feet because their individual legislative priorities may fall by the wayside. There is a wide assortment of groups and interests that need to work in concert to attract new industries and enrich existing ones, and both sides need to accept the fact that although they have good ideas, the other side isn’t necessarily wrong.
The right will tell you that we need to lower taxes to attract business, and the left will tell you that we need new streams of revenue so we can beef up infrastructure and education. The reality is, both sides are at least partially correct. Hill’s herculean task will be to cut through the political noise and make these people work together. The ever-present struggle between Washoe and Clark counties, as well as the struggle between the urban centers and the rest of the state—which, sadly, many residents view as nothing more than the flyover country between Reno, Las Vegas and Utah—must be addressed as well.
Nevada’s business friendly tax structure is still attractive. However, modern business leaders can afford to be much more discerning when looking to expand or relocate. Economic distress is still rampant in this country, and there are 49 other states that are working aggressively to offer a business-friendly environment through a variety of vehicles, including incentives to woo new businesses.
The left is correct that our education system needs to be enriched, for a readily available and educated workforce is essential to any long-term business plan, and our dysfunctional, irrational legislature has yet to address this for fear of retribution at the ballot box. For too long, government at every level from local to federal has sheepishly kicked the can down the road for future generations, but the time is now. Nevada is hurting every day, and we simply must do something about it. Today.
I’m glad to see Gov. Sandoval stepping up to the plate, and now it’s everyone’s responsibility to come to the table with him to try and pull us out of this tailspin.
On another note, I would like to extend my condolences to Sen. Bill Raggio’s family. He was truly one of a kind, and although some didn’t care for him, his 38 years in state government were an era when politics was civil, and working together was the order of the day. He loved Nevada deeply, and it’s with a heavy heart that we have to say farewell to Nevada’s Lion of the Legislature. Godspeed, Senator Raggio, and thank you for everything.