Nevada's Dem Gov. Sisolak lauds parent voices in schools, vows more police funds, as tough reelection looms

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Democrat Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in his Tuesday State of the State address welcomed parent involvement in schools and vowed to increase police funding in comments that amounted to a rejection of some of the most progressive voices in his party.

Sisolak faces a tough reelection race in November that’s rated a “toss up” by the Cook Political Report. And candidates in the GOP primary are hammering the governor over his COVID-19 response, the economy, the state’s schools and more. 

The governor pushed back on the criticism against him in his address, arguing that things are looking up for Nevadans. 

“Today, our economy is one of the fastest growing in the country,” he said. “Tourism is up, unemployment is down. Our students are back – with 100% of our classrooms in person. Gaming revenues are at an all-time high, and, more importantly, wages are up, too.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak provides an update on COVID-19 regulations in Las Vegas on Aug. 16, 2021. Nevada and its casinos stopped requiring people to wear masks in public on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022 joining most other U.S. states lifting restrictions that were imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that the state no longer required face coverings in most places, "effective immediately." (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File) 

But he also acknowledged issues Republicans have been grumbling about for months, and appeared to take a step toward the center on many issues.

Sisolak said education is “one of my very top priorities.” He touted state investment in schools during his term and also lauded increased parent involvement in schools – even as many other Democrats decry parents who want to help shape their children’s education.

“Your voices, your involvement, your thoughts are an important part of great schools. I will always support a strong parent involvement in making our education the best it can be,” he said. “I really believe the future of our state is directly tied to the quality of our schools. Last year, I worked with the legislature to commit $200 million to get our students caught up after the pandemic.”

It’s unlikely that those comments will placate Republicans angry about critical race theory, how long it took to get all of Nevada’s schools open, and that the governor did not lift school mask mandate until this month.

FILE PHOTO: A child wears a face mask on the first day of New York City schools, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. September 13, 2021. Nevada didn’t remove its school mask mandate until this month.
(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo)

“They’re going to try to gaslight Nevadans… and tell them that life isn’t as bad as they’re living today,” Nevada GOP Senate candidate Adam Laxalt said of Democrats ahead of Sisolak’s speech. 

But Sisolak’s comments are starkly different what some other Democrats said recently about whether parents should have a role in public education. The Biden administration even solicited a letter from the National School Boards Association comparing parents to domestic terrorists.

Sisolak also promised increased police funding – a position at odds with “Squad” members like Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who still advocates for defunding police. 

The percentage of our state budget devoted to law enforcement is number one in the country

“We’ve seen crime rates rise across the country… It’s unacceptable,” Sisolak said. He crowed that under his administration, “the percentage of our state budget devoted to law enforcement is number one in the country.”

The governor further promised to ask the legislature for a salary increase for police officers. 

Sisolak also decried national inflation and swore there will be “no new taxes” as part of an effort to keep costs down for citizens.

“The cost of everything is rising. We all see it. Nevada families are getting squeezed at the pump and at the grocery store. Child care, housing and health care costs are eating too much of a family’s income,” he said. “While I can’t promise to solve the national inflation problem, I can promise to do everything in my power to help families with the rising cost of living.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak attends the launch of the 100-megawatt MGM Resorts Mega Solar Array on June 28, 2021 in Dry Lake Valley, Nevada. Sisolak promosed more investment in green energy in his Tuesday State of the State address. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Among those steps, Sisolak said, is to invest in more child care, rental assistance, and increasing housing supply. He also touted efforts to grow the state’s economy including through clean energy and tourist destinations, like Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders. 

“Ultimately this is about making life better for the people we love,” Sisolak said. 

The comments come as many Democrats are warning progressive “Squad” politics could prove fatal for many in their party come November.

These fears were underscored by the recent recall of three progressive school board members in San Francisco amid criticism that they spent too much time on equity projects and not enough effort trying to run an effective school district. 

“The political earthquake that just occurred in San Francisco should be a dire warning to the national Democratic Party,” ex-Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg warned. 

Fox News’ Peter Hasson contributed to this report. 

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