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Governor Sisolak Wants To Raise Pay But Not Taxes--How?

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Associated Press

Gov. Sisolak being sworn in early this month.

Governor Steve Sisolak outlined an ambitious agenda in his State of the State speech a week ago.

Raises for state employees, including teachers, increased funding for health and education, and maintaining many programs, like Meals on Wheels for the growing, older population in Nevada.

The two-year budget he proposed is almost a billion dollars more than the previous budget.

And, he pledged, it won’t require new taxes but he is planning to ask for taxes established in 2015, which are set to expire, to be extended. 

“It is clearly not a new tax. It’s a tax that is in existence today, we’re just extending the sunset on the tax,” he said, “If the Republicans want to cut Meals on Wheels or reduce the number of mental health counselors that we’re putting into schools or any of the other programs we’ve decided to fund, let them propose that.”

Throughout the campaign and in his State of the State address, Sisolak said that he will prioritize education and getting teachers raises.

“Our educators not just teachers, all educators whether they be counselors, librarians, bus drivers, kitchen workers have all gone without raises. We feel that it is well overdue," he said.

He believes that to recruit and retain teachers the state and local jurisdictions need to pay well.

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“The fact that they have not gotten a raise through the state in a decade or more is just unconscionable to me," he said, "We can afford to give them a raise and I think they deserve a raise.”

Beyond raises, he would also like to work with local school districts on reducing class size, pulling back on the number of tests required and increasing how much teachers are reimbursed for school supplies.

Education is not the only item on Sisolak's agenda. He also supports efforts to address Nevada's growing affordable housing crisis.

“Affordability and affordable housing are something extremely important to me,” he said.

He said his administration has allocated $10 million to the problem, which he admits is not the solution but a first step to addressing it. He also said it will take some time before the money really makes an impact.

“I do not want this to be a generation that does not have the American Dream of being able to afford their own home,” he said.

Another important item on his agenda is implementing the voter-approved gun background check. 

“I’m confident that we have a plan to implement background checks moving forward. It is a priority of mine. It is a priority of our attorney general, Aaron Ford. I don’t think it was a priority in the prior administration to implement that,” he said.

Sisolak said he doesn't think that assault-style weapons are really for hunting and they're often misused by people, but his priority is not banning those weapons. Instead, he plans to focus on the background checks and banning bump stocks.

The new governor says he's getting his feet under him in Carson City and right now is living in an apartment behind the governor's mansion while it is being renovated. 

He said he is bringing a unique perspective to the legislative session because of his experience on the county commission. 

“The demand for resources is incredibly high," he said, “When you’re a growing state like we are in Nevada and you’ve got more demands on education – both K through 12 and higher education – you’ve got more demands on social services. You’ve got higher prices for homes. You have got to try to do everything you can to balance all of those interests and make it as fair as you can for everybody.”

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Gov. Steve Sisolak, Nevada

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