Gubernatorial Candidate Brian Sandoval Answers Questions on Issues

This morning in a statewide media conference call moderated by the Nevada News Bureau, candidate Brian Sandoval fielded questions on numerous issues including the 2003 Supreme Court ruling on the two-thirds legislative supermajority needed to increase taxes, tax policy, the Tax Pledge, budget cuts and higher education salaries, renewable energy mandates and the state’s health care reform lawsuit.

Sandoval maintained that as his press release said yesterday, he did not agree with the controversial 2003 Supreme Court ruling. He said he did not publicly state his views at the time because rules of conduct prevented him from doing so.

“The rules of conduct are such that I could have found myself subject to a bar complaint had I criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Sandoval. “However, my spokesperson at the time did issue a statement that went as far as I was able to go in expressing my opinion.”

“We didn’t seek invalidation of the two-thirds vote – the court did that on its own,” Sandoval spokesperson Tom Sargent told the Reno Gazette-Journal on July 16, 2003.

Sandoval also defended his position on taxes, saying as governor he would veto a corporate income tax.  He also said he does not believe tax increases are inevitable.

“Many believe [tax increases] are a foregone conclusion, but I do not,” said Sandoval.  “We have a spending problem in this state, and that is how I will approach the issue if fortunate enough to be elected governor.”

But Sandoval said he has not signed the Tax Pledge because it would “tie my hands behind my back.”

When asked how he can reconcile his refusal to sign the Tax Pledge with a statement made in a recent radio interview with Dawn Gibbons — in which he answered with an emphatic “no” in answer to a question about whether he would, under any circumstances, consider supporting a tax hike — Sandoval said he considered being on record enough of a “pledge.”

“I haven’t signed any pledges, and I am going to remain consistent on that,” added Sandoval.

Sandoval said that as governor he will be committed to finding cuts in the state budget and referred to the proposal he had submitted prior the special session that included a four percent reduction in pay to higher education salaries as well as the the reduction of some benefits.

Regarding Nevada’s need to attract and develop industry and create jobs, Sandoval said he is not in favor of clean and renewable energy mandates similar to the one’s passed in California but that he does believe renewable energy is an important part of the state’s recovery.

“Between solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and other clean energy sources, Nevada has some unique and valuable natural resources,” said Sandoval.  “We need to attract those kinds of businesses here.  But I would oppose any mandates that are generally harmful to the business environment.”

Sandoval also defended what some perceived as a curious delay in announcing his support for Governor Gibbons’ effort to join a lawsuit to challenge the recently passed health care reform legislation.

When asked why he had to deliberate overnight on the issue, Sandoval insisted he never had to think about it.

“We had put out a release that we opposed the bill, two months beforehand,” said Sandoval. “So, that next day, to clarify and make sure everyone knew my position, that I was consistent, I came out with statement.”

Sandoval said he believes Attorney General Masto’s duty on the issue and to the state is clear.

“If you have a client, you take the case if it has merit and if you are ordered to do so,” said Sandoval. “The governor is that client. And the case does have merit.  As the state’s attorney, she should take the case.”