Nevada governor wants to cut business taxes and suspend gas tax


Anchorman Sam Shad (left) and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo during the Nevada State Newsmakers, which was published on June 1, 2022.

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo said Monday he wants to cut business taxes, suspend the state gas tax for a year, make the biggest investment in education in Nevada history, and raise public employee salaries by 12% over the next two years.

In his first State of the Union address in a crowded joint session of the Democratic-controlled Legislature in the Carson City Convention Hall, the Republican also proposed tougher penalties for criminals, the creation of a new state agency to expand school choice, and the repeal of electoral reforms requiring mail-in ballots to all voters. He insisted that all initiatives could be implemented without any new taxes.

Lombardo announced plans to join Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday to unveil the new facility, which he says is part of his determination to further diversify Nevada’s economy beyond its heavy reliance on casinos and tourism.

Lombardo said the automaker’s development will include “an all-new $3.5 billion cutting-edge manufacturing facility in northern Nevada for the company’s all-electric semi-trailers.” Tesla already operates a huge plant 20 miles (32 km) east of Reno that makes batteries for electric vehicles.

Lombardo’s lofty legislative goals took center stage in his speech, setting the stage for what could become a militant legislative session in the wake of his razor-thin victory in the western swing state.

“My budget doesn’t include a single cent of new taxes,” Lombardo said, claiming his plan cuts taxes for households and businesses, pays off debt, and saves “1 dollar for every new dollar spent in the general fund.”

The former Clark County Sheriff, who replaced Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in November, said Nevada’s economy is “getting stronger every day.”

He said he is determined to work with both majority Democrats and minority Republicans to deliver on an ambitious program that he says will make the state even stronger while spending within its means.

“As governor, I am full of hope and optimism about what we can achieve if we just show the will to work together,” Lombardo said in a speech in the state capital. “On the one hand, we have exciting opportunities, but on the other hand, we must resist the temptation to overspend.”

“Not a penny of the state’s one-time surplus will be used to fund recurring programs,” he said.

Lombardo was the only Republican in the country to defeat a Democratic incumbent governor in November, a significant victory in a western state where the predictable wave of GOP victories would not otherwise materialize.

He said the executive budget, which he will present to lawmakers when they return to Carson City in two weeks for the biennial legislative session, will ease the tax burden on working families and businesses. He said his proposal to suspend the state auto fuel tax for the next 12 months would save consumers and businesses about $250 million.

“For a family of four, that means saving hundreds of dollars a year,” he said on Monday.

“My budget also saves taxpayers more than $260 million in bond interest payments, allowing us to create more construction jobs in the coming years, among other things.

Lombardo also detailed plans he discussed during the campaign to reverse Sisolak’s criminal justice reforms, which he called “soft on crime”.

As a nod to bipartisanship, his opening remarks included a moment of silence in memory of Nevada’s many leaders. Among them was the late U.S. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, “a man who, whether you agree with him or not, never stopped fighting for Nevada all the way to the top.”

In his first three weeks in office, Lombardo has already issued four executive orders, including one that directs the Department of Administration to address an approximately 24% vacancy rate for civil servants. The order also directed government agencies to return to pre-pandemic work, including regular business hours, by July 1.

Another executive order requires all agencies, departments, and other executive bodies to review all existing rules to recommend which ones should be repealed, as well as explain why the new rules are subject to exceptions.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers teased a bill that, if passed, would test Lombardo’s use of his veto power.

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