A gubernatorial candidate's announcement speech

News item: National report card shows Nevada is seventh worst in nation in education.

News item: National Democrats give up on targeting Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

I imagine a speech:

I am here today to announce my candidacy for governor because the state I love is not the state it should be. I like Brian Sandoval. I think he loves this state as much as I do. But despite what he says, the skies are not sunny. And this nice guy is going to help us continue to finish last.

It’s time to believe in a new Nevada – a place where education is valued, where fair share really is fair and where silly tax pledges are replaced with thoughtful public policy.

We have been a state of half-measures – nay, quarter- or eighth-measures – for too long. When I hear the governor’s administration say it is pleased with this national education report card, I am shocked. And, yes, I am ashamed.

Sure, the governor will tell you he is the first chief executive to ever put money into English Language Learner programs. Good for him. But he approved $50 million, which will help a handful of schools while most are left to struggle.

Pilot programs, fractional funding – that’s the old way. It’s time for a new Nevada.

The governor is right that better education in Nevada is not just about money, that it’s about reform, too. But passing policies to stick a thumb in the eye of the teachers union doesn’t help. And ending social promotion in the third grade? That sounds wonderful – tough, even. But these kids are being set up to fail by the lack of resources, the semi-commitment to all-day kindergarten.

The margin tax, which the governor makes sound like the apocalypse, is not the answer. But who can blame anyone for supporting it because of the governor no-tax pledge, which has as many asterisks as the baseball record book, the Legislature’s serial inaction, compounded by buck-passing "enabling" tax measures.

I have thought long and hard about this, and I will not vote for the margin tax. Setting tax policy at the ballot box is a terrible last resort, and I’m here to tell you I have another plan.

Here’s what I will do: When I am elected, I will propose a new tax structure, one with a tax on businesses that I believe most will consider fair. We will repeal the payroll tax, which is the dumbest tax this state has passed, and replace it with a graduated tax that will be fair to all.

Many businesses in this state are only too willing to contribute if the tax is equitable and if they can see some accountability. I will provide both – a way to make bigger businesses pay more and to force school districts to be accountable or lose their share of tax money.

I’m not going to take a poll to see if this is popular. It’s my job to sell this to the Legislature and to the public. It’s time to stop letting fear of retribution govern those who should govern.

That was the old way. This is the new Nevada.

My campaign will not just be about education, either. I will talk about the forgotten issues, too. Governor Sandoval ignored the problems with patient dumping in this state until he could ignore them no more. We need to dramatically increase funding for mental health in Nevada, and I will do so.

But the centerpiece of my campaign will be education, and I will not forget our university and community college system. The mark of great cities and great states is a vibrant, well-endowed higher education system, with graduate programs that are the envy of all. I am sick of hearing how we are up to 85 percent of an antiquated funding formula. We need to fully fund higher ed, too, and part of my job will be to get private donors more involved at both universities and the community colleges.

For too long, higher ed has had to compete with lower ed. Not anymore. That was the old way; this is the new Nevada.

I know the governor is trying. I know he is committed. But Nevada still has the highest unemployment rate in the country, our economy is still too one-dimensional and the future of the state is at risk.

During this year of the sesquicentennial celebration, I hope the governor will agree to debate me across Nevada, to talk seriously about these issues, to honor the proud legacy of leaders who came before us during the last 150 years.

I know Governor Sandoval has been anointed. I know how effective anointments are in Nevada. But I am here today to tell you: I am the fly in the anointment.

It’s time for a new Nevada.

Just a fantasy?