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Dan Schwartz was elected Nevada Treasurer in 2014, but this year, he has his sights set on becoming Nevada’s Governor.
Schwartz is a Republican who will likely face a tough primary in June against Attorney General Adam Laxalt, but he thinks he has the plan to help fix some of the state’s biggest problems, including education.
“I want a total overhaul of the education system,” he told KNPR's State of Nevada.
Schwartz said despite the tax hike in 2015 to pay for education improvements four recent surveys have put Nevada's education system at "rock bottom."
He said that shows the problem isn't a money.
Schwartz said that if elected he will have the Legislature focus entirely on solving the education system problem before moving on to other issues.
“Let’s get our arms around it and fix it,” he said.
He said everything from teacher pay to classroom size should be looked at.
One of Schwartz biggest issues is the $750 million in tax money that is being funneled to the stadium.
“I will use all means at my disposal to encourage Clark County and the Raiders and the NFL to renegotiate that contract,” he said.
Schwartz said he will go as far as halting the roads that need to be build to the stadium. He said if the country, the Raiders and the NFL won't renegotiate, "I"m not going to build roads to a $2 billion Taj Mahal that we do not need."
He would rather see the money go to education or helping with the state's mental health system.
Schwartz says there is money in Nevada to help improve the ailing mental health system it is just a matter of the political will to spend that money on that problem.
“The money is there but instead of giving it to football stadiums and casino billionaires we have to decide as a society how we want to spend that money,” he said.
He feels the same way about tax abatements and credits like those given to Tesla to bring the gigafactory to Northern Nevada.
“The abatements and the tax incentives are great if you’re one of the corporations, but they’re not so great if you’re a Nevada taxpayer and you have to build schools, you have to build roads, you have to build hospitals,” he said.
Schwartz believes there are a lot of ways to grow the state's economy without giving away tax incentives.
He also wants to give some tax relief to small business by repealing a tax.
“I will repeal the commerce tax, the gross margins tax and that has hit small businesses particularly hard,” he said.
Schwartz would like to eliminate most benefits for small and large businesses and create a more "level playing field."
As far as other issues facing the state, Schwartz is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment but believes criminals and "mentally incapable" should not have access to assault rifles. He believes it is up to the state to decide how the growing marijuana industry should be watched over. And he believes the way to best tackle problems with healthcare is by trying to get the costs of the complex system down. It is said it is important to focus on what we're paying for and who is paying for it.
Schwartz has not shied away from criticizing Governor Brian Sandoval. During the 2015 legislative session, he presented his own budget proposal in contrast to the governors. Schwartz was strongly criticized by lawmakers on both sides.
He said Gov. Sandoval isn't really a moderate Republican but instead is someone who just doesn't want to do something controversial. He believes that lack of a true stand causes problems.
As for himself, Schwartz described himself as a "practical conservative."
“The focus of my campaign is education, it’s health care, it’s putting an end to the pay-to-play politics in Carson City and it’s really transforming Nevada’s economy,” he said.
He wants to solve Nevada's problems with a Republican, free market, free enterprise, smaller government approach.
Dan Schwartz is running for governor as a Republican. KNPR News sent out a questionnaire. Here are his responses:
Question: Education in Nevada is ranked dead last or close to it. What does it need to improve?
Ans.: Our K-12 system needs a total overhaul. We have spent billions and billions on our education system, with a singular result: we are ranked dead last in every major national study. First and foremost, we must focus on ACTUALLY educating our kids. That means recruiting more good teachers; encouraging parental involvement; creating career paths at an early age; and, launching comprehensive pre-school programs (for starters). Then, administratively, we need to finish breaking up the Clark County school system; reducing class size (where appropriate); and better understanding the role that poverty plays in a child’s ability to learn. If elected, I’ve promised not to sign a single bill until I have an education reform bill (including parental choice) on my desk.
Question: Mental health is becoming a growing problem in the state. To fix it would require a lot of money. Where would that money come from?
Ans.: For starters, I will redirect the $750 million in public funds that is being used to build a football stadium for the rich to education and fixing mental health.
Question: Housing costs are going up in Reno and Las Vegas, and both metropolitan areas are having a difficult time providing affordable homes or apartments to the growing numbers of people moving there. How do you propose increasing investment in affordable housing?
Ans.: The main reason for the shortage of housing is not so much lack of investment but a shortage of workers to build the houses. There are simply not enough electricians, plumbers, and other skilled tradesmen to construct new housing. Beyond that, at a Board of Finance meeting meet over a year ago I encouraged our Governor to expand the State’s affordable housing program. He refused to do so.
Question: Was it a good idea for Las Vegas to invest $750 million in room taxes to build a stadium for a professional football team? If not, why not? If so, how do you think it will benefit Nevada?
Ans.: The decision to subsidize our gaming and entertainment industry with $750 million in hotel revenue taxes is more than a bad idea—it’s outrageous. Nevada is dead last in every major national survey on education, yet we fund a football stadium for a bunch of billionaire owners and players based on highly questionable economic statistics. Moreover, the funding for this stadium has one other serious flaw: it is a $2 billion project floating on a sea of debt. There’s not one penny of equity that is supporting this project. The only “real” money is $750 million in public money that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Then, there’s $650 million in construction loans from BofA: how will that be repaid? And, then there’s $500 million in funding from Mark Davis and the Raiders, which consists of another $200 million in loans from the NFL and $450 million on the come from the sale of PSL’s and stadium naming rights. And, by the way, this stadium will cost more than the projected $1.8-$1.9 billion, say $2.2 billion with overruns. So, that’s $750 million of OUR money; plus $650 million in debt with no visible means for repayment; and a yawning bill for close to $1 billion with no financing at all. What a scam!
Question: Does Nevada need to enact any laws related to background checks to obtain a weapon in the state?
Ans.: Yes, we should enforce Question 1. Our Attorney General (my opponent) does not have the right to pick and choose what laws he wants to enforce any more than the Governor has the right to enact a margin’s tax contrary to the votes of 80% of Nevada’s citizenry.
Dan Schwartz, Republican candidate for governor