LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Gov. Steve Sisolak discussed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nevada, our state’s economy, schools and much more during Tuesday’s “State of the State” address. Sisolak summarized COVID-19 in Nevada, saying:
- Nevada’s first case was reported on March 5, 2020
- As of Friday, Jan. 15, state has had over a quarter of a million cases
- Over 3,700 Nevadans have died
During the pandemic, there were many notable achievements. The state’s Department of Agriculture served around 250,000 Nevadans per month. Sisolak also said ConnectingKidsNV connected all students currently learning online with internet access at their homes and computers.
The Nevada National Guard is also in the midst of its longest and largest activation in the state’s history, the governor said.
Full State of the State address:
He started out outlining his priorities, which include winning the fight against COVID-19. Other priorities include:
- Vaccinating Nevadans
- Getting students back int he classroom
- Providing teachers with the proper tools they need for success
- Getting our economy back on track
- Growing infrastructure
Sisolak called the Silver State’s economy the hardest hit due to the pandemic, as it relies so heavily on tourism.
He says that needs to change, and it’s time to bring in other industries and jobs.
Sisolak’s plan focuses on renewable energy, fast tracking infrastructure projects and help for small businesses — all of this trying in with his focus on jobs.
He outlined five initiatives to create a brighter economic future:
- The Energy Economy
- Creation of Nevada Innovation Zones
- Preparing workforce for new economy
- Building the state’s infrastructure
- Making the government work better
The governor wants to add $50 million to a fund for small businesses. He noted they account for nearly half of the state’s jobs.
Sisolak also announced $25 million to continue construction at UNLV’s medical school to help end the state’s doctor shortage.
He also wants to upgrade technology in state, including the computer system used at the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR). The governor says DETR could handle its average 20,000 claims a week before the pandemic. That number jumped to 370,000 claims, which the archaic system just couldn’t handle.
Sisolak says nearly one in four Nevadans are on Medicaid, another result of massive job losses in a state which relies so heavily on one industry.
He wants to bring in other industries and train Nevadans for new opportunities.
“We will support our current industries, like tourism, while developing new industries, embracing innovation, workforce training and investing in infrastructure to create a more robust and sustainable economy,” Sisolak said during the speech.
With his economic plan, the governor is looking to create 30,000 short-term jobs and over 165,000 permanent jobs.
Medicaid and education numbers were of the most notable in the governor’s proposed 2021-2023 executive budget. Click HERE to read more about the budget proposal.
The proposal lists general fund expenditures $8,688,624,000, a 2% reduction from 2019-2020.
In November, Sisolak asked state agencies to propose 12% cuts in their budgets. Over the summer, lawmakers convened in a special session to offset a budget shortfall of more than $1 billion.
He reiterated he wants students back in classrooms. He says the state has worked to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) and rapid testing for all school districts.
Teachers are being prioritized to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which was another focus of the governor’s speech. He says the state’s biggest challenge is running the largest vaccination campaign in history. Sisolak blamed the federal government for a lack of resources and coordination, but he says the state is ramping up distribution efforts.
Sisolak noted that over 100,000 initial and secondary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far.
Assemblywoman Dr. Robin Titus, minority floor leader, delivered Republicans’ response to the governor’s address. She criticized the state’s COVID response and also spoke of a lack of resources in our overall state healthcare system.
Full Republican rebuttal:
Titus also spoke of how the pandemic runs much deeper than just COVID.
“Our healthcare crisis goes beyond the pandemic itself,” she said. “Opioid abuse and mental health problems continue to devastate the lives of many of addicts. We can’t ignore these issues, but we also shouldn’t exacerbate the problem through restrictive policies.”
Titus discussed education and how remote learning should only be a short-term option. She also stressed the state should focus on continuing to create jobs, as Nevadans attempt to recover from the first mandatory shutdown.