Gov. Steve Sisolak gave his first State of the State address Jan. 16, and Nevada voters now have a better understanding of his priorities. I wrote three months ago I wouldn’t vote for Sisolak because the Las Vegas politician would be beholden to teachers’ and construction unions and other liberal causes. We all – myself included – hope and pray that Sisolak’s vision for the state leads to the continuation of our economic growth, because this is our home and we want the best for our children and grandchildren. But it now appears my prognostications were spot on.
Sisolak has called for a 3 percent increase in state employee — and teacher — salaries. This kind of across-the-board salary increase is a clear attempt to shore up support from a voter base. It doesn’t single out high performers – it just says “give ’em all a raise.” It’s an effort to cement a voting bloc, not recognize the most inspirational teachers or civil servants.
And he is calling for collective bargaining for teachers’ unions. I recognize that the labor movement has improved the lot of workers in the past, and I’ve supported unions in their effort to give a voice to workers to negotiate with management. But when it comes to public sector unions, management is taxpayers. I don’t support the idea that teachers need the support of labor unions to represent them against taxpayers. Sisolak’s promise to the teachers’ unions is a payoff to a large voting bloc. That’s tawdry.
The governor has also called for “prevailing wage” in Nevada, especially for school construction. This is a blatant attempt to enlist the support of construction unions, and I’m as troubled by this as I am by his promise to teachers he would support collective bargaining. It’s a transparent payoff to a small segment of the state economy and doesn’t benefit the entire state.
Sisolak’s comments on regulations concerning firearms is misdirected and will have absolutely zero impact on so-called gun violence. He has called for a ban on bump stocks – the type of gun modification that allegedly allowed Las Vegas shooter Steven Paddock to kill so many people on Oct. 1, 2017. Bump stock sale is opposed by the NRA and is already being taken up at the federal level, where it should be. With the single exception of the Las Vegas shooting it has not been an issue in American gun violence. It’s a “feel-good” proposal with no future impact.
He has also called for universal background checks for gun transfers, specifically mentioning “gun show and internet sales loopholes.” I have written about this before — right now no one can buy a firearm at a gun show or on the internet without going through a federal background check. The only transfer that will be impacted by this is if I want to give a gun to my grandson or lend one to my neighbor – transactions that won’t impact gun violence.
Our governor has promised not to spend “a single penny” debating climate change. That’s the liberal approach all across this country: “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts.” Forget for a moment how closed-minded this position is, let’s just say if he really wants to reduce carbon emissions, the most effective way would be to commit to nuclear energy generation, not to increase wind and solar generation, with all their ecological and tourism problems.
Sisolak closed with the promise his door is open to the 63 legislators watching his address. One can only hope he will also listen to the rest of Nevada’s voters.
Fred LaSor retired from U.S. government service 30 years ago and lives in the Carson Valley.