Guinn: Times are ‘difficult’ |

Guinn: Times are ‘difficult’

Merry Thomas
Brian D. Schultz/Tribune News Service Gov. Kenny Guinn speaks about the state's economic growth at the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Republican Women's luncheon Tuesday.

INCLINE VILLAGE – Gov. Kenny Guinn lamented to a group of North Shore GOP stalwarts about what it’s like to be a Republican governor who is forced to raise taxes.

Guinn began his speech before the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Republican Women’s Club luncheon meeting at the Hyatt’s Lone Eagle Grille by citing the pervasive financial problems of state governors during the last couple of years, particularly those in the western states.

“I can’t remember a time when things have been so difficult,” he said.

He zeroed in on health care and education as the topics that can most easily drain a state’s pocketbook.

“All across the country Republican governors have had to do something to increase revenues,” he said. “We’re going to have to do more long-term planning.”

Gov. Guinn said he had time to take a look at the budget and to rearrange funds. When he took office, he noticed that every two years the prison system would get significantly more money, but at the same time the state neglected convalescent care. When Guinn took office, 36 percent of Nevada’s convalescent homes were bankrupt.

“I took $18 million from the prisons and gave it to the convalescent homes,” Guinn said.

All of the privately owned convalescent homes recovered from bankruptcy and still are doing well, he said.

Another example of how he tackled the state’s fiscal problems was when he privatized workers’ compensation.

“Nevada is the only state that’s privatized workers’ compensation,” he said. “In my first year, it took almost $2 billion off the ledger.”

In contrast, Guinn said he spends a lot of time talking with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is bemoaning workers’ compensation.

In the last three years, California’s worker’s compensation has risen more than 70 percent, he said.

“Business people in Nevada netted $40 million with a credit of 12.9 percent. That, to me, is privatization,” he said.

Guinn spoke briefly about last year’s legislature sessions.

“My number was $704 million,” he said. “Republicans hadn’t done anything since 1991.”

Guinn reminded the audience that southern Nevada is “the economic engine of this state … with 72 percent of the people.” In Clark County alone, the school district has grown to be the sixth largest in the United States.

“It will open 55 new schools in the next 30 months,” he said. “And taxpayers have voted for this.”

“Nevada is still the number one growth state. We are number one in establishing new jobs, and we are number two in the quality of the job,” he said. Guinn elaborated that a higher quality of job is one that pays a livable wage and provides health benefits.

In other words, at a time when the nation’s economy has sagged, Nevada is doing well.

“We’re starting to change the way we do business here,” he said.

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