Rory Reid released a 30-page blueprint for Nevada timed to his announcement today that he is running for governor, and in the process he told a hard truth, wrapped in a pleasant myth.
The hard truth, which Reid doesn’t shy from: The good old days of a recession-proof, ever-growing Nevada where jobs are easy to come by are not coming back. The Silver State must change or continue its decline.
“We have a state government built for the 19th century and happy to stay there, looking no further ahead than yesterday, squandering what we have today and failing to invest in tomorrow,” he writes. “I see a different road ahead for Nevada.”
The easy myth: Changing will be relatively cost-free and just take some know-how.
The next governor will face a $2 billion budget hole, and the kinds of strategic investments needed to diversify Nevada’s economy will take real money.
Well, duh! Hardly any politician wants to scare people with all of the hard reality we're facing. That's just how our political system works, unfortunately... And just how voters prefer fantasy to reality. (Hello, Gibbons was actually elected 3 years ago.) Still, it would be nice to see Rory Reid not even try to candy-coat reality, but just tell us plainly how he will get the state out of this mess that not Gibbons put us in, but that we've been putting ourselves in for many, many decades.
But hey, at least Reid, Jr., is seriously talking about diversifying our economy. No matter how much sweet talk one gets from Sheldon Adelson, our next Governor needs to realize that tourism is no longer "the magic recession-proof bullet" that will keep this state going on its own. Nevada needs new industries to survive and ultimately thrive in the future, and those industries of the future require a more educated workforce.
That's why I hope to hear more from Rory in the coming months on his plans to lure more green-collar jobs to Nevada, invest in a strong universal Pre-16 education system, and ultimately strengthen Nevada's economy by growing these new sectors like information technology, renewable energy, and biotech research. The casinos won't and shouldn't go away, but our days of being overdependent upon them are numbered. Nevada shouldn't be a one trick pony any more, so I hope Rory proves to Nevadans that he will make a good Governor by foregoing conventional wisdom, showing reality for what it is, and offering real plans to change that reality for the better.