(Chris Woodward) – Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo signed legislation to transfer millions of dollars from the state’s general fund to the education fund.
The $70 million transfer comes from Senate Bill 124, which ends a mining tax prepayment in the current fiscal year as opposed to the first year of the next biennium.
Due to what he called “budgetary flexibility,” the governor said it makes sense to end the mining tax prepayment this fiscal year.
“This new deposit of $70 million in the State Education Fund, however, is currently unbudgeted,” Lombardo said in a press release. “I believe we should follow the recommendation of the Commission on School Funding and begin offering state-supported transportation to Nevada’s charter school students.”
The governor now plans to work with legislators to utilize a “portion of these new funds” and make that possible.
“The mining tax prepayment was a provision that began a dozen years ago to mitigate a downturn in state revenues during following the 2007-09 recession,” according to Kevin Dietrich, communications director at Nevada Policy Research Institute. “State revenues recovered long ago, so the prepayment has not been justified for a long time and it’s encouraging to see that the legislature has finally recognized this reality.”
Dietrich added that, among the many encouraging features of charter schools, is that they operate at lower cost than district-run schools.
“Charter schools in Nevada must finance their facilities out of basic student support rather than levying additional charges on local taxpayers as school districts do, for instance,” he said.
While it may be frustrating for parents that most charter schools do not offer transportation services like district-run schools, Dietrich said charters do have the option of doing this already if that’s how they choose to allocate their budgets.
“However, transportation could be challenging for charter schools because their student body, by design, does not draw exclusively from the surrounding neighborhoods – students from anywhere within the state can choose to attend these schools,” Dietrich said. “A better approach than committing tens of millions of dollars in new funding would be to make it easier to open a charter school so that more families have these options available within close proximity to their homes.”
Earlier this month, Governor Lombardo ordered all public schools districts in the state to undergo an audit. Lombardo said in his State of the State address that he wanted to see greater transparency and accountability in education.
“If we don’t begin seeing results, I’ll be standing here in two years calling for systematic changes to the governance and leadership in K-12 education,” the governor said.
Chris Woodward | The Center Square