In the final day of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, Governor Brian Sandoval met with President Barack Obama to discuss issues facing the National Guard, drought and wildfires, and Vice President Joe Biden on workforce development.
"Like many western governors, I am deeply concerned about the impacts of drought and wildfires in Nevada. While there is more to be done, Nevada's Drought Response Committee has been active in identifying the most severely impacted areas of the state. I welcomed the opportunity to express our concerns directly to the President," said Governor Brian Sandoval. "I also had the opportunity to meet with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss how Nevada has made workforce development a critical component of our efforts to diversify our economy. By engaging with the business community and educational institutions, we are actively taking steps to help the unemployed find work and to train our workforce for the jobs of the future."
This morning, Governor Sandoval and his fellow governors met with President Barack Obama at the White House for a broad-ranging discussion on issues of importance to the nation's governors. The governors specifically expressed concerns about significant cuts to the National Guard, which have the potential to greatly reduce state capacity to respond to emergency situations. Governors asked the president to consider both the high level of experience and the cost-effectiveness of the Guard to perform many different missions and join with them in calling upon Congress to establish a National Commission on the Structure of the Army, similar to the one Congress established for the Air Force two years ago.
Following the all-governor meeting with the President, Governor Sandoval, along with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, met privately with Vice President Joe Biden. The Vice President asked about state initiatives to get Americans working again and solicited advice to improve federal workforce training and development programs. Governor Sandoval described how the state is working with leaders in business, education and labor to help unemployed Nevadans receive the training and skills they need to compete for tomorrow's jobs. Governor Sandoval discussed Nevada's industry sector councils with the Vice President and detailed Nevada's Right Skills Now program that provides unemployed workers with in-demand, industry-recognized credentials. The Governor asked the Vice President to give states more flexibility to target federal dollars to Nevada's unique unemployment needs and to work with states to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, a key source of funding for many state workforce development programs.
This afternoon, the Governor joined six other western governors for a small-group meeting with President Obama focused on drought. Persistent drought conditions continue to ravage the west, and Nevada is in its third consecutive year as a designated drought natural disaster area. Nevada's Drought Response Committee has identified impacts to agriculture, wildfire and wildlife as the three most serious drought issues facing the state. Governor Sandoval asked the President to make appropriate Administration officials available for a follow-up meeting to discuss the specific impacts of drought in Nevada, to which the President agreed. Separately, the President asked the Western Governors Association (WGA), of which Governor Sandoval is Vice Chairman, to act as a convener and coordinator on drought issues across the west, and provide connectivity to the Administration.
Later Monday afternoon, Governor Sandoval participated in a meeting of the Council of Governors. The Council, which consists of 10 governors appointed by the President, serves as a mechanism for governors and key federal officials to address matters pertaining to the National Guard, homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also attended. Governor Sandoval stressed the need for a strong National Guard in Nevada to respond to disasters and emergencies and reiterated concerns expressed earlier to the President about the negative impact to Nevada that the proposed cuts to the National Guard would have. Governors asked Secretary Hagel to work with governors to determine the right mix of Active, Reserve, and Guard units for a 21st Century Army.