Reno Gazette Journal October 14, 2018
Last week, Gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt released his economic development plan. Neatly consolidated into seven basic points, it provides plenty of depth and is more detailed than many plans put forth by presidential primary contenders.
Before we dig into Adam’s economic plan, let’s look at Nevada’s economy over the last decade. In January 2008, Nevada had an unemployment rate of 5.2%. The unemployment peaked at 13.7% in the fall of 2010, primarily attributable to the housing crisis. Since then, the unemployment rate has recovered to 4.5% as of August 2018. Our labor force has expanded and wages have edged up slightly.
While the topline economic numbers are very encouraging, it is important to acknowledge that middle class families are still struggling. Although the unemployment rate seems great at 4.5%, Nevada is currently ranked 42 out of 50 states. Include those who are underemployed or have left the workforce discouraged and the unemployment rate jumps to 9.7%. Furthermore, half the state makes less than $17 an hour, placing Nevada 35th in the nation. Add to it the skyrocketing home price and rent, our economy has plenty of room for improvement.
It is with that backdrop one needs to review Adam’s economic development plan. What levers can be pulled at the state level to increase employment and wages? How do we improve the quality of life of average Nevadans?
Adam focuses on growth by keeping a favorable tax environment and minimizing regulations. Adam correctly identifies the onerous occupational licensing regime as one of the issues. For example, the training requirement for barbers in Nevada is 890 days (almost 3 years) according to a Politico report. Onerous requirements and licensing fees like these significantly slow down growth. Adam’s plan takes a methodical approach to reviewing and reducing that burden.
Regulations are an indirect tax on business. While some of them are necessary to keep our lakes and skies blue, our forests green and our air clean, many are unnecessary. Adam takes successful practices from states like Arizona, Kentucky and Wisconsin to reform our regulatory structure.
California is collapsing under the weight of taxes and regulations. Businesses are leaving California in droves. We have a great opportunity to capture those businesses that offer high paying jobs. Adam’s plan leverages innovative methods successfully deployed in states like Arizona and North Carolina to make Nevada an attractive destination for businesses exiting California.
The new economy demands skilled manpower. Adam’s plan enhances the employability of Nevadans by placing a premium on entrepreneurship, career and technical education. From expanding broadband to ensure rural Nevada is not left behind to reducing barriers that limit access to affordable housing, Adam has put forth a solid plan that will catapult Nevada into top business destination.
One final point: We live in an era where consultants tell politicians to stay away from details. Campaigns are won by negative ads that take down the approval rating of the opponent. There is little incentive to fill in the details, as details split the coalition and become targets for opponents. By deviating from the template of broad strokes and providing specifics with his plans on economic development, education, veteran’s affairs and health care, Adam has demonstrated that he is running a campaign based on ideas.