Oceguera calls for civility and bold ideas in opening speech
By Nevada Democratic Party
By Anjeanette Damon
CARSON CITY — In his opening speech, newly-elected Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, called for both civility and bold ideas as lawmakers face the challenges of addressing a $2.2 billion budget shortfall and jumpstarting the recession-battered economy.
“We have a big decision to make,” Oceguera said. “Do we just patch things up for another two years? Or will we take this opportunity to be bold — to make fundamental changes needed to move our state forward by rebuilding and investing in Nevada?”
Since taking the helm of the Assembly, Oceguera has struck a cooperative tone, eschewing the more combative stance of his colleague Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, in the face of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget.
He continued that tone in his opening speech, but he also served notice that many of the cuts proposed by Sandoval likely won’t be tolerated.
“Now it is the job of the Legislature to determine if the sacrifices placed in the scales to balance the budget can be sustained,” he said. “Or, if they are too much to ask of Nevada’s citizens who have already lost so much in the recession.”
Incoming Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, also struck a cooperative tone in his brief opening remarks, calling on lawmakers to disregard old grievances and find common ground.
But he also foreshadowed what will likely be come sticking points as lawmakers delve seriously into the budget debate.
“I know we are facing some difficult decisions and some of that will be perceived as partisan as we move forward,” he said. “In reality, we will be represent what our constituents demand of us. We need to provide reform if we are going to provide any long term prosperity for this state.”
Also today, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in his opening statement called for a balanced approach to the budget and setting aside partisan differences to come up with long-term solutions for the state.
He said Sandoval’s cuts to education and social services are too high.
While he took pains to wish Sandoval success, he said: “The governor, and some in this chamber, suggest that Nevada’s kids can withstand deep and severe cuts to their education ... Wait for the economy to recover and only then, perhaps, rebuild. That theory for achieving success has been tried and disproven. You cannot build a strong economy – or a strong future – on a foundation that is faulty and frail.”
He said that the budget can be balanced - “if we leave the elections and partisanship aside – starting with myself.”
Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, had no prepared remark. He only said of the budget: “I think we’ll all have a good time debating that and coming to a positive conclusion.”