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Interview: How Sandoval Pulled Off Nevada's Biggest Tax Hike

The Nevada legislature has wrapped up its 120-day session after making the historic decision to approve more than a billion dollars in tax hikes for K-12 education. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reached out to Fred Lokken, professor of political science at Truckee Meadows Community College, to learn how such a controversial tax package gained so much momentum and support.

According to Lokken, passage of this bill really came down to two things: Sandoval's leadership and fracturing of the state Republican party. 

"What we saw was the exercise of a brilliant tactician," Lokken said about Sandoval. "He talked to legislators, engaged the process, and was omnipresent. He used the power of his popularity with the public as a very strong tool of persuasion."

But Lokken doesn't credit Sandoval with everything.

"I actually think it was probably more the leadership of the conservative trust. Michele Fiore and Ira Hansen, I think, succeeded in driving a wedge that broke that block. We literally lost any elements of unity."

Despite having concerns earlier this session about legislative productivity, Lokken points out in this interview that a remarkable number of bills made it through. His conversation with KUNR's Michelle Bliss also includes examples of how both political parties managed to hinder and help the legislative process. 

If you're a political junkie, don't miss this extended 15-minute interview with Fred Lokken. Extra topics include Governor Sandoval's political future and what the repercussions could be for Republican lawmakers who voted for the state's largest tax hike.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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