Lombardo lays out a new way for Nevada | EDITORIAL

Lombardo lays out a new way for Nevada | EDITORIAL

If Gov. Joe Lombardo accomplishes even half of what he laid out in his inaugural address last week, he will have a very successful term in office.

Governor Lombardo took office on Monday, followed by a public ceremony on Tuesday. His upcoming State of the State address will provide more details, but his first remarks offered Nevadans a glimpse of how he proposes to lead. While it’s early, Governor Lombardo appears committed to the promises made by candidate Lombardo. This is refreshing.

He listed “personal responsibility, fiscal discipline and limited government intervention” as ideals to preserve. This is a welcome contrast to the Sisolak administration, which, with the help of legislative Democrats, greatly expanded the size and scope of state government.

The upcoming legislative session will present an immediate opportunity for the new governor to demonstrate fiscal discipline. The Economic Forum predicts that Nevada will have more than $2 billion to spend over the current biennium’s budget, a significant increase. Undoubtedly, there will be many bureaucracies and special interest groups eager to get a piece of this money.

But that would be short-sighted. A recession in 2023 or 2024 is a real possibility. If visitor volume declines, especially in Las Vegas, future tax collections will suffer. Better to save for a rainy day than to increase basic budgets by spending now and have to cut back later. If Governor Lombardo allows legislative Democrats to blow up the budget, he will be setting Nevada taxpayers up for slaughter. That would conflict with his commitment to hold the line on taxes, which he called “a promise I will keep.”

On education, the governor said, “I will pursue my top priorities of expanding school choice and improving school safety.”

Both of these are important. Empowering parents to explore the best educational options for their children is vital to attacking Nevada’s dismal achievement numbers. In states across the country, select programs have produced academic gains for all students. Competition is a powerful motivating factor. School choice encourages school administrators and teacher unions to work together to make things better for students.

Unfortunately, Democrats have shown more loyalty to their teacher union allies than to academically struggling kids who need options. But school choice is widely popular with the public. Governor Lombardo should draw a sharp contrast with Democrats if they refuse to engage on this issue.

He is likely to find bipartisan support for strengthening school discipline. Trying to find alternatives to expulsions and suspensions is a noble goal, but so-called “restorative justice” has not worked. Students need a safe environment to learn, and those who disrupt that process need to understand that there are consequences for their actions. Both political parties should have an interest in promoting campus safety.

On the negative side, Governor Lombardo said little about the importance of transparency. His aversion to open records was a serious liability during his tenure as Clark County sheriff. He is now leading the executive branch of the state. He should make clear to his office and agencies that he will demand a commitment to access and accountability.

Governor Lombardo will have many challenges, especially governing as a Republican with a legislature dominated by Democrats. But his inaugural remarks made many important points and give reason for optimism.

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