Education joins agencies warning of cuts if taxes aren't increased

The Department of Education has joined a growing list of state agencies issuing warnings about budget cuts if the governor's tax increases are rejected.

In a memo to Nevada's 17 school districts, Superintendent Jack McLaughlin said the money the state guarantees public education would be reduced $126 million a year if the 2003 Legislature fails to enact tax increases needed to erase the $704 million deficit Gov. Kenny Guinn says state government faces over the next two years.

According to the chart McLaughlin provided, the cuts would cost Carson City schools $3.3 million a year and Douglas $2.8 million. Lyon would lose $6.8 million and Storey $378,596 annually.

Unfortunately, school districts must submit their tentative budgets to the departments of Education and Taxation by April 15 -- well before the Legislature will take action on the state's contribution to those budgets.

The Feb. 17 memo recommends school districts "include reductions necessary to bring expenditures in line with a loss in revenue resulting from the possibility that sufficient revenues are not generated to fund the governor's proposal."

It estimates that, if lawmakers reject the entire tax package proposed by Guinn's administration, "the effect on the public school system would be a reduction of about $300 per student each year.

"While we are hopeful that additional revenues will be generated through the legislative process, there are no guarantees," the memo warns.

And it advises school districts to "advise their constituents of the potential effects if the additional revenue is not provided."

The Department of Corrections issued a similar warning directly to lawmakers Feb. 14, advising that failure to approve the governor's recommended budget could force the release of up to 2,600 inmates classified as minimum custody. And other departments and divisions have also sought to warn lawmakers they will have to make drastic reductions in service if they don't get the money proposed in their budgets.


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