Flores, Hutchison tout backgrounds
October 2, 2014
Nevada lieutenant governor candidates Lucy Flores and Mark Hutchison come to the issues — especially education — from diverse ends of the spectrum.
Flores, a Democratic Assemblywoman from Las Vegas, told the League of Women Voters candidate forum Tuesday at the Carson City Community Center she understands "the challenges everyday Nevadans face."
"I have experience with those challenges firsthand," she said saying her mother left when she was nine and, when she failed every exam on purpose, "no one noticed."
"I ended up on juvenile parole by 15. By 17, I was a drop out," she said.
She said she's now a practicing attorney because, "eventually, I did get someone who made a difference in my life, and surprisingly, it was my parole officer."
She said all children deserve the same access to a high-quality education and "what was done for me should be done for others."
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Hutchison, a Republican state senator from Las Vegas, said he's a third-generation Nevadan whose grandfather came to Nevada during the depression. He said his dad worked for Ahern 45 years and he started working at the business when he was 12. He went to law school and built a law practice while raising six children.
"At the end of the day, I have lived the American dream," he said. "I want to help as many Nevadans as possible live the American dream."
Both emphasized the importance of education.
"Education is to state government what national defense is to the federal government," Hutchison said. "It's the one thing you'd better get right."
He said in the 2013 session, lawmakers and Gov. Brian Sandoval pumped $50 million into English Language Learner programs.
But Flores quickly pointed out that wasn't new money.
"What is being referred to as an addition is actually a replacement," she said. "We've cut education a billion dollars but replaced only a quarter of that. I will continue to fight for a real increase in funding."
Asked whether they support the ballot question removing constitutional protections limiting taxes on the mining industry, Flores said yes, it should be replaced with "a broad-cased, reasonable tax structure so we spread that liability amongst all industries in Nevada."
Hutchison cautioned the state "not do something that constrains (mining's) ability to employ Nevadans." But he did say he voted for putting the question on the ballot.
Both said if the teacher's tax plan — the margins tax — passes, the state should make sure the money raised goes to education and isn't diverted elsewhere in the state budget.
Asked about the increased college fees the questioner said are pricing college out of reach for the average student, Hutchison said more competition would help bring prices down. He pointed to vocational schools such as ITT Tech as alternatives for Nevada's colleges and other ways such as Internet classes.
"We need really to allow people to get into good paying jobs that may or may not be going to college," he said.
Flores said Nevada hasn't done a good job of aligning workforce needs with workforce development. She said despite a longtime shortage of healthcare workers, "only recently did we start expanding our nursing programs."
Where she said she supports background checks to purchase guns, Hutchison said he saw the bill vetoed by Sandoval as creating a federal gun registry.
The only candidate for Nevada Attorney General to show up for the league forum in Carson City was Republican Adam Laxalt. Democrat Ross Miller wasn't there and didn't send a representative or statement.
Laxalt said his training and experience as a Naval officer help qualify him for the job of Nevada's top legal officer. He said that includes service in the Middle East where he worked in detainee operations, the unit setup to handle terrorists in Iraq.
He said one of the things he would do as AG is create a military legal service to support former troops.
He said he would continue Catherine Cortez Masto's efforts to aggressively attack the growing problem of human trafficking.
"We need to keep on the offensive," he said.
He said he also would work to fight against invasive federal regulations and support continued efforts to prevent Yucca Mountain from ever opening as a nuclear waste dump.