I-Team: Governor Talks Education and Budget Cuts - 8 News NOW

Investigative Reporter Colleen McCarty and Photojournalist Kyle Zuelke

I-Team: Governor Talks Education and Budget Cuts

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LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County School District predicts cuts to education will mean teacher layoffs, bigger class sizes and fewer resources.

Governor Brian Sandoval's budget is expected to create a shortfall in Las Vegas of more than $400 million. But he says it is not how much you spend, but how you spend it.

Critics of the governor's proposed budget have described it as misguided, counterproductive, even devastating. Both K-12 education and the university system is expected to sustain the largest cuts in the state's history by some estimates. Yet Governor Sandoval insists his education reform proposals will improve outcomes statewide.

On the final day of Nevada Reading Month, the governor shared one of his favorite books -- Dr. Suess' Horray for Diffendoofer Day -- with students at Cambeiro Elementary. Cambeiro was the last stop on a reading tour that included two private and two public schools.

During an interview, the governor touted his own plans to improve education with proposals like school district block grants, school choice and the elimination of teacher tenure. It is reform that doesn't necessarily come with a price tag.

"You just can't equate success with dollars," he said. "I think we have to be really aggressive. The status quo has gotten us to the bottom of the heap. We need to be very passionate and very strong about improving the delivery of education in our schools."

Sandoval was also asked what he thought the class size should be for elementary kids. He said his own daughter was in a class of 25 to 30 kids and doing just fine.

The governor points out he has children in the public schools and considers K-12 education his top priority. As more money becomes available, he says that's where it will go.

A recent Impact Nevada survey found more than 50 percent of respondents believe the state should balance its budget with cuts and with taxes. Yet the governor says as we approach the halfway point of the legislative session there will be no such compromise.

But that does not mean, he says, he's not passionate about education reform.

"As you talk to different groups, everyone talks about maybe we should increase taxes, but everyone wants someone else to pay the tax. At the end of the day, it's really important to me that we strengthen our economy and get people back to work and create more jobs and bring more companies to the State of Nevada," he said.

Sandoval rejects the notion that any company has passed on development in Nevada because of the education system. He says he is committed to working with higher education to create programs based on industry need.

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