Nevada Attorney General argues challenge to vouchers program doesn’t violate constitution

Editor’s note: This article corrects the fact that Monday’s Supreme Court hearing is on the commerce tax.

The Attorney General’s office filed a brief Friday arguing the legislative vouchers program — the so-called educational Savings Accounts law — doesn’t violate the state constitution.

Instead, the 49-page brief argues that opponents of the ESA law “would challenge longstanding Nevada law and practice and sweep away much more.”

The AG has asked the Supreme Court to lift the injunction preventing the state Treasurer’s office from releasing the $5,100 per student to pay for private school tuition.

Opponents have argued the program diverts money from public schools to private schools for the rich, taking away money the public school system needs for all students.

The injunction was ordered by Carson District Judge James Wilson who agreed with opponents allowing the money to be released would irreparably damage their case because there’s no way to get it back.

Wilson said the Nevada Supreme Court long ago ruled the legislature is barred from using the state’s education money “for any purpose except that immediately connected with the public school system.”

Attorney General Adam Laxalt argued in the brief filed late Friday the state has long authorized spending General Fund money to encourage education outside the public school system.

The Friday brief says the money appropriated for public education isn’t restricted to just public schools, that the money can be used for all programs to educate children.

His brief said lawmakers are entitled to “provide for education through any means the Legislature deems suitable” — including the ESA/vouchers program.

“The per pupil funding system confirms that the point of the appropriation is to educate children, not to fund public schools,” the brief argues.

The brief says opposing arguments the state constitution forbids “funding non-public systems,” flies in the face of the state constitution that “empowers the Legislature to encourage education by all suitable means.”

The brief also argues lawmakers knew what the were doing when they enacted the vouchers program and the courts were required to give deference to those decisions, assuming they were constitutional.


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