LAS VEGAS -- Gubernatorial candidates Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval met for a one-hour debate Sunday night to talk about how they will improve the state of education in Nevada.
Democrat Reid came out aggressive and stayed that way but Republican Sandoval answered many of his criticisms.
School choice was a central theme between Reid and Sandoval, with Sandoval calling for vouchers and Reid countering that would benefit a privileged few at the expense of others.
In the televised debate, Sandoval defended his voucher proposal that would allow parents to receive the state allotted, per pupil subsidy of $6,000 to send their child to a private school. Sandoval said his plan would create competition and improve public schools as well.
Reid argued Sandoval's plan would punish poorer schools and students whose families can not afford private school tuition.
Each candidate highlighted their education differences. Sandoval wants to end teacher tenure and trim salaries for state employees.
"I will not cut education, you can count on it," said Reid. He challenged Sandoval several times during the debate saying that Sandoval's plan calls for cuts in education. Sandoval countered saying his plan calls for a modest reduction of salaries across the board in order to save jobs. "I will balance the budget without using any education dollars, Brian can't say that," Reid said.
Sandoval says the status quo of the system needs to be challenged and that was why he was willing to give up a lifetime appointment as a federal judge to run for office. "We need to break the mold. We can't wait the five years in my opponent's plan to break the system," he said.
Money became a theme during the debate. The crippling budget shortfall looms the candidates proposed plans making them very difficult to accomplish. For Sandoval's plan to work, he demands unions come to the table to take more wage cuts.
"His education plan reads like a Hallmark card. It sounds nice but there isn't much substance there," Reid countered.
But Reid's plan hopes for $615 million dollars in positive revenue and voluntary cuts by principals in the empowerment program.
The latest voter survey commissioned by 8 News NOW and the Review-Journal showed Sandoval with a 22 point lead over Reid.
The debate was co-sponsored by 8 News NOW, the Las Vegas Review Journal, Vegas PBS and the Agassi Preparatory Academy.
The debate will re-air on Channel 128 at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30.