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Gibbons criticizes Sandoval on state building lease back proposal, Sandoval says Gibbons budget plan raises taxes


CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons today criticized a proposal by GOP opponent Brian Sandoval to let private investors take over state buildings as investments in exchange for upfront payments as a way to help balance the state budget.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, presented the idea at a legislative hearing on Thursday, saying it could bring in as much as $250 million in upfront cash to help solve the state’s nearly $900 million budget shortfall.

Raggio said the state would make lease payments to the investors over 20 years in exchange for the cash, and that the idea came from Brian Sandoval, a Republican running against Gibbons for governor. Raggio said the idea has been pursued successfully elsewhere, including Arizona.

“This scheme is riddled with short-sighted problems,” Gibbons said, “Nevada will end up paying rent and other expenses for the buildings, so there is no real reduction of state spending.”

In a news release from his campaign, Gibbons said the proposal reflects a lack of leadership experience on the part of Sandoval.

“Sandoval’s idea merely delays solving our budget problems,” Gibbons said. “Just like kicking the can further down the road, it does no real good for Nevada’s working families in the long term.”

“Now is not the time to quit, it is time to show foresight and creativity,” he said, “Nevada is already $900 million in the hole. We need ideas and plans to reduce spending, not ideas that just hide the problem or leave it for someone else to solve.”

Sandoval said the proposal is a responsible approach to balancing the budget and an improvement over Gibbons’ plan, which he said raises taxes.

“I believe the vast majority of Nevadans will think my idea is better than raising more than $100 million in new taxes, laying off thousands of teachers, and cutting vital  programs for foster children, mental health patients, and senior citizens – all of which the Governor is planning to do,” he said.

Gibbons said he has already proposed a plan to bring the state’s budget back into balance without raising taxes, although some elected officials and others consider his idea to reduce the amount of deductions on the net proceeds of minerals a thinly veiled tax increase. Gibbons said the proposal is not a tax increase, and that it would bring in $50 million to help with the state’s budget deficit.

Raggio said he presented the state building lease idea because of a belief that between $200 million and $300 million of Gibbons’ plan to balance the budget was unworkable. He called a couple of the proposals “ridiculous,” and said the minerals proposal, an auto insurance verification program and “questionable estimates” for some elements of Gibbons plan make alternative solutions to balancing the budget necessary.

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