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Sisolak's Transition: A lot of help as he inherits a budget

Team Sisolak has representatives from business, gaming, education, law enforcement, healthcare and labor.

Thirty-one people are on the Sisolak transition team, headed by Congresswoman Dina Titus, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and former Speaker Barbara Buckley.

“What the transition team can do is help the governor in areas the governor can't reasonably be expected to know a lot,” says UNLV Associate Professor of History Michael Green.

Team Sisolak has representatives from business, gaming, education, law enforcement, healthcare and labor.

It includes people like Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, Mason Van Houweling, the CEO of University Medical Center, and Virginia Valentine, the president and CEO of the Nevada Resort Association.

There’s also Deisy Castro, a DREAMer and Special Education Teacher at Elaine Wynn Elementary, along with Gerald Gardner, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s former chief of staff.

All these people will help the outgoing Chair of the Clark County Commission get up to speed on issues facing the state of Nevada.

“The last couple days have been pretty intense, I'll say that,” Mike Willden, Sandoval’s Chief of Staff, says from his office in Carson City.

Willden says the outgoing governor and his team are working to help Sisolak navigate his new role.

“We’ve been working closely over the last couple, three days with [Sisolak Transition] Executive Director Michelle White and team members, so we’ve had a lot of face-to-face time and a lot of emailing going on over the last three-to-five days, and we’re providing documents for them to review,” Willden says.

Job No. 1 is the state budget, due in January.

Sisolak will modify the plan put together by the Sandoval administration.

“I'm sure they will have their fingerprints on the budget, and they will have initiatives that they want to do, but I don't think you're going to have sweeping changes,” Willden says.

What a difference eight years makes.

When Sandoval took office from Gov. Jim Gibbons, Nevada was mired in the depths of a brutal recession. The state’s finances were all but wrecked.

The hand-off in 2019 will have the luxury and backdrop of a good economy.

“We have a good ending fund balance. We’re in good shape as a state, so it’s a great opportunity for Governor-elect Sisolak coming in to continue on things that we think the Nevada family needs,” says Willden.

First reported by the Nevada Independent and confirmed by News 3, Sandoval will hand off a budget that spends general fund $8.8 billion.

Among the highlights: more money for schools and Medicaid, which will make the new governor happy.

“The important things to me that are in the budget are the continued Medicaid coverage is really, really important to me, and then expansion of our education spending, getting marijuana monies in there and other monies in there,” Sisolak said two days after he was elected.

The Sandoval budget appears to do that, and soon Sisolak will have his name on it for an administration that starts in just over five weeks.

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