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Sandoval prepares handover to successor

(Jeff Gillan | KSNV)

It’s Friday morning, and Brian Sandoval would rather be nowhere else.

“There's no other place in the world that I love more than a museum,” Sandoval told a crowd at the Nevada State Museum at the Springs Preserve.

He was here to accept, on behalf of the state, a beautiful Harley-Davidson, which was built to honor the state's 150th birthday in 2014. The bike is being donated by Las Vegas Harley-Davidson and will be put on public display.

It’s the kind of events governors do. This one was the last scheduled public event Sandoval will do as Nevada’s 29th governor, a moment that resonated with the man wrapping-up his public service.

“It's bittersweet. I'm grateful for having the opportunity to serve the greatest state in the nation,” Sandoval told News 3 afterward.

He's been governor for eight years, and what a difference eight years makes. When he took office on inauguration day 2011, this state was crippled by the Great Recession.

And so today, as we spoke on a porch overlooking the Springs Preserve and with a very different Las Vegas as a backdrop, the outgoing governor talked about what could be his biggest legacy: our state's recovery.

“We've replaced those lost jobs with 293,000 jobs. Our unemployment rate has gone from over 14 percent to 4.4 percent. One of the best improvements in the country, and actually should be lower but we're also the fastest growing state in the country,” Sandoval says.

On Jan. 7, Sandoval will turn over the keys to the state to the first Democrat to win the governor's office in 20 years.

The outgoing governor talked about the transition from Sandoval to Steve Sisolak.

“So it's been very smooth, actually. We're going to be putting the finishing touches on the budget to hand over to Governor-elect Sisolak," says Sandoval.

It is Sandoval's final budget, which the new governor will tweak or change, to present to the legislature at his state-of-the-state on January 16, in preparation for the legislative session which begins on February 4.

Friday afternoon Sandoval’s office released details of the blueprint the Republican is leaving for the Democrat. The proposed Sandoval budget is based on an estimated $8.8 billion in revenue and spends additional money on education, both K-12 and higher ed, along with redirecting the money from marijuana taxes to a school safety account. It recommends raises for state and university employees.

It will be the new governor’s decision on which Sandoval proposals he keeps, and which he doesn’t.

“We haven’t had a direct conversation with regard to that. I have heard him speak publicly – he has the same priorities as I do with regard to education and investing in that, and public safety, so I’m gonna be looking with interest,” Sandoval said Friday.

Soon, he becomes a private citizen. News 3 asked him what’s next.

“Well, the only thing that I'm firmly committed to, that I'm very excited about, is I will be teaching part time at the UNLV law school,”

Those classes start next year. In the meantime, one other important task:

“I have already drafted a letter that I'm going to put in the desk and when Governor Sisolak, after he takes the oath of office, will open that and it will be there for him to read,” Sandoval says.

Most likely, words of encouragement and wisdom, from a governor who leaves the state in better shape than he found it.

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