- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Lucy Flores criticized Republican Mark Hutchison in a debate in Reno for opposing legislation last year to directly help the Washoe County School District repair its aging, overcrowded schools.

The two state Assembly members from Las Vegas fielded questions for a half-hour during an appearance on KRNV-TV’s “Nevada Newsmakers” that was taped on Monday and broadcast Tuesday.

Flores said Hutchison did not support the legislation during the 2013 Legislature, which would have added spending to the Washoe district’s capital fund. Instead, Assembly Republicans helped steer the issue to the Washoe County Commission, which eventually killed it.

“Unfortunately, my opponent passed on supporting a bill that would have allowed the Washoe school district to improve on their buildings and repair the very old structures of our schools here in Washoe County,” Flores said. “It was incredibly needed, and they (Republicans) punted it to the Washoe County Commission - and you can see that it did not occur.”

Hutchison said he supported the legislation enabling the county commission to raise taxes for schools, just as he did for Clark County measures allowing local government consideration of tax hikes aimed at road improvements and additional police hiring.

“I am a person who believes that local government ought to solve local issues, and I think many of my fellow legislators feel the same way,” Hutchison said.

“If there are issues in Clark County regarding school matters, particularly in school construction and school infrastructure, I think that is best handled by local authorities,” he said. “I see the same thing for Washoe County. Those government entities that are closest to the parents, closest to the issues make the best decisions.”

Lieutenant governor is a largely ceremonial, part-time job that focuses primarily on tourism. It’s getting extra attention this year because the winner would take the governor’s seat if it becomes vacant midterm. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is expected to coast to re-election in November, and there’s wide speculation that he might run against U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2016.

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