(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Recently announced U.S. Senate candidate Shelley Berkley spoke to the Nevada Legislature [yesteday], stressing education, infrastructure and energy independence as ways to create jobs and get the state back on track.
Berkley, D-Nev., who has served in the House of Representatives from Congressional District 1 in Southern Nevada since 1999, delivered her remarks in the Assembly in front of lawmakers, Gov. Brian Sandoval and the other constitutional officers, and the members of the Nevada Supreme Court.
Berkley’s visit to the Legislative Building comes just days after her announcement that she will run for the Senate seat being vacated by John Ensign, R-Nev. Berkley will likely be facing fellow Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in the 2012 race.
The upcoming Senate race did not come up in her remarks, which focused on how to get Nevadans back to work.
- Education is a key to this effort, Berkley said.
“Businesses coming to Nevada need and want a well educated and well-trained workforce, and they are not going to come here if we don’t deliver that,” she said.
In perhaps her most pointed remarks, Berkley acknowledged the sometimes acrimonious and partisan debate in the Assembly on Tuesday regarding Sandoval’s public education budget, saying “in my mind, gutting our education system is short-changing our children.”
Berkley said she was not leveling any criticism at the hard work of lawmakers in addressing public education funding in a time of scarce resources, but that failing to fund education is undermining Nevada’s ability to diversify its economy.
She also talked about the need to restore the country’s infrastructure as one way to create jobs, and the opportunities available in Nevada to develop alternative energy sources, which would not only provide economic benefits to the state but would help wean the country off its dependence on foreign oil as well.
“Energy independence in my mind is a national security imperative,” Berkley said. “It is incomprehensible to me that a superpower like the United States of America is so dependent on the Saudis and the Venezuelans and the Nigerians to have our energy needs met. These countries are not our friends.”
Berkley also said there is an effort under way in Washington, DC, to re-initiate the development of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump, which she said is unnecessary because of the ability to store the waste safely at the nuclear reactor sites. It is time to close the door on Yucca Mountain as a waste site, which would also save $100 billion in development costs, she said.
Berkley spoke out against a Republican proposal in Congress to replace Medicare with a voucher program, saying it would cost seniors, many of whom rely on social security to live, $6,000 in out-of-pocket health care costs.
In a brief meeting with the media after her remarks, she did say her race against Heller will present Nevada voters with a clear choice on policy issues including Medicare and Social Security.
The number one issue will be jobs, and Berkley said her position “is the correct one to move this nation and this state into the future.”