Newly elected in the 2022 general election, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo (R) took the oath of office on January 2, 2023. On January 23, 2023, Lombardo delivered his State of the State Address, presenting his administration’s 2023 budget to the Nevada General Assembly. Lombardo focused the address on the state budget and emphasized areas the state government should prioritize. Here are some of the policy issues that Lombardo is focusing on in the upcoming session.
Lombardo focused on several policy areas within the executive budget. The governor plans to reverse cuts made during the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to invest in different programs. The executive budget would suspend the state motor vehicle fuel tax, decreasing fuel costs and government revenue by $250 million. Lombardo’s executive budget would also lower the modified tax rate by 15%. It would include the first Commerce Tax adjustment in favor of taxpayers. The executive budget plans to increase the savings in Nevada’s Rainy Day Fund to fund the account entirely. The Nevada Way Fund, a new sub-account, will be used for economic development and infrastructure needs in emerging markets. The budget would also increase student funding to over $2 billion. It would fully fund the Pupil-Centered Funding Program, which allocates funds to specific groups of students.
Lombardo’s address focused on education and resource expansion. The governor announced that legislation would be submitted to create the Office of School Choice to ensure that information on every option for education is available and that each option is held to the same standards. To address the immediate teacher shortage, the governor plans to increase aspiring teachers’ funding and allow retired teachers to receive money from their retirement and a salary simultaneously. Lombardo also focused on literacy, advocating that students who are not proficient in reading should only advance past third grade when they reach a sufficient reading level. The governor intends to seek the repeal of the Public-School Restorative Justice law, claiming that it has led to disruptive and dangerous situations in schools. Regarding higher education, Lombardo plans to focus on reevaluating the higher education funding formula and investing in areas that will enhance high education programs.
Lombardo plans to reform the election process by reforming the mail-in ballot process, voter identification, and ending “partisan redistricting.”
To deal with possible future energy issues in Nevada, Lombardo plans to issue an executive order allowing electric providers to develop dedicated in-state generation resources, ensuring that Nevada need not rely on the broader electric market. In preparation to deal with water challenges, Lombardo stressed the importance of conserving and prioritizing water use while also strengthening Nevada’s ability to work with the seven basin states to find solutions to a possible water crisis.
Lombardo called for action on the timely release of public lands and advocated that the federal government use a more predictable approach in releasing federal lands. The governor also prioritized understanding the needs of rural areas and planned to coordinate more with rural communities. Lombardo announced a $400 million investment to accelerate statewide connectivity. The governor prioritized the relationship between the state and the mining industry. He proposed that the five key state agencies with jurisdiction over mining issues cooperate with the industry.
Lombardo plans to immediately reduce crime by introducing legislation that addresses the problem areas of the Nevada justice system and makes it more challenging to commit a crime. The governor also mentioned a disparity in Nevada’s public safety compensation structure. He proposed a two-grade increase for public safety employees to help retain workers. Regarding mental health services, Lombardo proposed investing $17 million to expand Medicaid and add up to six behavioral health centers in underserved areas. The budget also includes funds to increase forensic mental health services.
Lombardo voiced a plan to strengthen the Nevada workforce. The governor recognized the lack of coordination between workforce programs, the university system, and local government and is proposing an Office of Workforce to develop and execute an integrated plan to solve dysfunction. Lombardo plans an 8% increase in all state workers’ salaries to resettle state employment and an additional 4% increase the following year. In addition, Lombardo’s capital improvement budget funds the refurbishment of existing buildings and the construction of new state offices. Lombardo also supported the repeal of Senate Bill 4, passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, because of its unnecessary burden on hospitality workers.
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