Reno Gazette Journal Q&A

On April 14th, I submitted answers to the Reno Gazette Journal's candidate questionnaire. Please see their questions and my answers below.

Taxes and Housing

• Do you support property tax cap reforms that would reset depreciation upon transfer of the property?

This is an important issue and one that I’m currently reviewing. I’m making a point of talking with the people who are or would be affected by this policy, but as Governor I will be committed to not raising taxes on anybody.

• Should Nevada spend more of its own money to build affordable housing? How much?

I do not believe that having state government directly spend additional taxpayer dollars to build more housing is the best approach to this issue. I am open to exploring ways to make it easier for developers to build new housing that will help us address this challenge.

• What additional steps, if any, would you support to ease the statewide affordable housing crunch?

This is a challenge for many of our local communities. That’s why I’m spending time meeting with a lot of business owners, leaders, and citizens around the state, looking at this issue and how it is affected by our continued growth. Their input will be invaluable in order to determine the proper role for the Governor to play in addressing this challenge.

Education

• Should Nevada change the education funding formula?

This is an issue that’s been talked about going back a long time. It’s certainly something I’m willing to look at and consider. But we have to keep in mind that the most important question is whether we are spending our education money as efficiently and effectively as we can and targeting it to the areas that will best improve student achievement. That’s why I’ve proposed an “Education Checkbook,” an online, easily digestible report of each county’s education spending. We want to be sure that these dollars are making their way to the classroom. That will be my top priority when it comes to education funding.

• Should private schools receive any form of public funding, including student vouchers?

Our goal needs to be making sure every student has access to a quality education. I support school choice, including charter schools, Opportunity Scholarships, and Education Savings Accounts, because I believe that increasing educational options is a great way to ensure every child gets the education that’s right for them. In these cases, the money follows the student. That is important to keep in mind because, unfortunately, there are some common misconceptions as to how this works. We’re not funding private schools; we’re funding an education for our students. And because those dollars only follow the students who choose to get an education outside of the public system, per-pupil funding in our public schools does not decrease one bit.

• Should private schools receive more public funding? From where?

See above answer.

• Should public schools receive more public funding? From where?

I’ve said I’m committed to maintaining current public education funding levels at a minimum — we will never go backwards when it comes to education funding. Fortunately, Nevada is experiencing tremendous economic growth right now and we expect to see an increase in revenues. Some politicians will offer pie-in-the-sky promises for more money without looking at the facts. I don’t believe that’s responsible or fair to our students and teachers. So, we’ll have to see what those precise revenue projections are, and if there’s an opportunity to increase funding in the areas where it will have the greatest impact on education, then that certainly will be a top priority of mine.

• Would you seek to repeal Nevada’s existing commerce tax? If so, what revenue stream, if any, should replace it?

I opposed the Commerce Tax when it was debated at the time and that’s still my position today. It’s important to remember that the Commerce Tax is a General Fund revenue source that accounts for only 2.3 percent of General Fund revenue, and less than 1 percent of total state spending. I’m confident that the combination of the economic growth we are experiencing, plus bringing more efficiency to our state government, will preclude any need for tax increases on hard-working Nevadans to replace that revenue. I will not raise taxes, period.

Guns

• Should there be increased restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms? If yes, which such restrictions would you support?

I support the Second Amendment and believe that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right. I also think the record is clear that increasing restrictions on law-abiding citizens’ access to firearms is not effective in reducing gun violence.

• Should Nevada enforce Question 1?

I believe that Nevada should always implement ballot measures that are passed by the voters, and I have always supported and defended that approach as Attorney General. In the case of Question 1, however, the initiative was written in a way that the Governor and the Department of Public Safety — who would be responsible for enforcement — cannot enforce the initiative legally. As the initiative was written, the FBI must be the entity to conduct the background checks. The FBI has said repeatedly, under two different administrations, that it won’t do so. So the initiative can’t be enforced. And it’s important to remember that the responsibility for that fact rests with the out-of-state activists who wasted millions of dollars on an effort that was doomed from the start, because they didn’t bother to familiarize themselves with either Nevada law or FBI practices.

• Should Nevada municipalities be allowed to ban bump stocks on firearms?

Six months ago, I joined a bipartisan group of attorneys general in asking the federal government to review how it regulates bump stocks. I believe we will see them regulated at the federal level, which should adequately resolve this issue.

• What additional measures, if any, would you support to prevent future school shootings?

Our children must always feel safe in our schools. We cannot expect them to do well if they are afraid when they walk into the classroom. Making sure our state is safer — especially our schools — will be a top focus for me as Governor. My Attorney General’s office convened a summit in March to bring together law enforcement and education officials across the state to identify gaps in the system that could lead to a tragedy in one of our schools. At this summit, we addressed many important areas to enhance school safety, including: training and protocols for responding to active shooters; enhancing security measures to make our schools safer; examining whether we have enough law enforcement officers to keep our schools safe; identifying how schools and law enforcement can better share information; exploring how predictive analytics can be used to identify future threats to our schools; and establishing mobile law enforcement and mental health teams.

Health care and social issues

• Should the government play any role in providing health care?

I believe generally that government’s role in health care should be to provide access to care for those who truly need support and can’t get health care on their own.

• Do you support a single-payer health care system?

No.

• Should the government tell people which types of bathrooms to use based on birth gender or any other type of distinction?

This is an issue that recently has come up predominantly in the context of our public-school policies. As a father, I hope that our schools do not put biological men with our little girls. But it’s important to note that I also want a safe environment for all our children. Nevada has the proper anti-discrimination and anti-bullying laws on the books to make sure that is the case. My record as Attorney General shows I’ve prioritized protecting the vulnerable.

• Should the government impose additional work requirements on recipients of food stamps, Medicaid, housing aid and other forms of social welfare?

I support a safety net for those who are truly in need of these programs. Let’s not forget our overall goal — to increase economic prosperity and opportunity, so that working-age, able-bodied Nevadans can go back to work, get job training, and volunteer, and so that aid can be preserved for those who can’t help themselves.

• Should abortions always be legally available?

I reject the premise of that question. That’s an extremist phrasing of the issue that’s never been supported by either the U.S. Supreme Court or the people of Nevada, which is why there are already some restrictions in place today, such as partial-birth abortion and late-term abortion, both of which I’m against.

• Should federal funding be provided to Planned Parenthood?

I’m running for state office and this is an issue for our federal representatives to address.

• Should marijuana use be decriminalized at the federal level?

I’m running for state office and this is an issue for our federal representatives to address.

Yucca Mountain and public lands

• Should nuclear waste be stored or reprocessed at Yucca Mountain?

No.

• Should nuclear weapon tests be conducted in Nevada?

No.

• Should the federal government have less control over public lands in Nevada?

Yes, and I’m proud of my record as Attorney General in pushing back against federal overreach. I look forward as Governor to working to increase Nevadans’ access to our natural resources, our lands, and our water. I believe this is an important part of growing our economy and opening the door to more prosperity and opportunity, particularly in our rural communities.

Economic development

• Should the government use tax credits, abatements and other subsidies to incentivize economic development?

In general, I favor a more free-market approach to economic development where government doesn’t get involved in picking the winners and losers in our economy. But as opportunities arise, I will always examine each case individually. I will ensure that any incentives that are provided come with full transparency in the process, as well as strong safeguards to protect Nevada’s taxpayers. My goal in economic policy will be to create an environment where all of our businesses — large and small — can grow and thrive.

• Has Nevada doled out too many such inducements in recent years? Too few?

My concern is what we do going forward, and that involves honoring the commitments we’ve made and making sure we implement policies that will lead to a stronger economy and more prosperity and opportunity for Nevadans.

Immigration

• Would you support a ban on sanctuary cities?

We need to be clear on what this debate is about. It’s about local governments harboring criminal aliens and refusing to cooperate with the federal government in their efforts to ensure that dangerous criminals are kept off of our streets and out of our communities. This poses a real threat to our citizens, and I’m proud of my efforts to combat this dangerous practice. Alarmingly, legislative Democrats introduced legislation last year to make Nevada a sanctuary state. As Governor, I will vigorously oppose all such efforts.

• Do you support Trump’s border wall?

I support securing our borders and I believe the federal government should take the most effective and efficient steps to accomplish that goal. It is the responsibility of federal policymakers to identify what those appropriate steps are. This issue is not just about illegal immigration; it is also about stopping sex traffickers, drug traffickers who are amplifying our opioid crisis, and other dangerous criminals from getting into our country.

• Which, if any, undocumented immigrants should be granted legal status in the U.S. and why?

I share the frustration many Nevadans feel over the federal government’s failure — by both parties and over the course of decades — to adequately address this challenge. This is something our national leaders must resolve. I hope that all parties in Washington, D.C., can come together to compromise on solutions that secure our border and take all situations into account.

• Which, if any, undocumented immigrants now in the U.S. should be deported and why?

Our main focus should be on illegal immigrants who are felons. They should be our top priority when it comes to deportation.

MeToo movement

• Does the government need to take additional steps to fight workplace sexual misconduct? If so, which measures would you support?

We have measures in place that address this and I strongly support those measures. I have two daughters, so I want to make sure when they enter the workforce they are treated with respect. Workplace sexual harassment is unacceptable, and I believe the most important thing government can do in this area is fulfill its obligation to enforce our measures that are designed to protect people in the workplace.

• Has the government done enough to address existing sexual misconduct claims against elected officials? What steps, if any, should be taken to improve the reporting and handling of such sexual misconduct claims?

Like all Americans, I’ve been sickened to learn about the instances of sexual misconduct by elected officials. I believe it is the responsibility of each government jurisdiction to take the steps necessary to deter such behavior, protect its citizens, and pursue justice in cases of misconduct that arise. As Governor, I will carefully review what safeguards our state currently has in place and will work to implement any and all reforms that are needed to put an end to this problem.