Sandoval optimistic in State of the State address

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 10:31 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013

The Legislature convenes Feb. 4.

Sandoval also proposed expanding the national Jobs for America's Graduates program, which places a specialist in schools to assist potential high school dropouts. A pilot program operates in seven Nevada schools, and the governor wants to expand it to up to 50 additional schools and nearly 2,000 more students in the next year.

In higher education, Sandoval wants to apply enough money to support the Millennium Scholarship Fund through 2017. The popular scholarship provides Nevada students money to attend Nevada colleges.

After the governor's speech, Dan Klaich, chancellor of Nevada's higher education system, praised the governor for stopping cuts to public education, which has seen funding slashed during the recession.

"There's a lot to be thankful for," he said.

Sandoval called education "the foundation of economic growth," but said his greatest priority has been economic development itself.

Sandoval listed companies — such as Apple Inc., Urban Outfitters Inc. and NOW Foods — that have brought capital investment and jobs to Nevada, and he praised economic development officials for their work to attract more.

He even promised trade missions to Mexico and Israel, in addition to the missions he's already led to China, Korea and Canada.

"I am committed to leaving no stone unturned — no road not taken," he said in the speech.

The governor also pledged to move ahead with establishing Nevada as a leader in online gambling. His administration has legislation being drafted paving the way for Nevada to join with other states to offer Internet poker.

"No opportunity is as rich with promise as our primary industry, gaming," Sandoval said.

Sandoval's budget includes expanding Medicaid eligibility as called for under the federal Affordable Care Act, a move the governor said will insure an additional 78,000 of Nevada's neediest residents. But the governor, who opposed the federal law and hoped for its repeal, said he would insist Nevada be able to opt out of the program in future years "should circumstances change."