Several members of the money committees objected Tuesday to specific cuts to K-12 education funding in the governor’s recommended budget.
Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno objected to the $78 million cut in class size reduction funding. He said classes are already 40-plus pupils in high schools and that the state doesn’t need to do that in grades one through three as well.
Joined by Sen. Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, and Assemblyman Tom Roberts, R-Las Vegas, he also said he would have a tough time supporting the more than $16 million reduction in the Read By Three program that aims to have all elementary students able to read by the third grade.
Gansert said she thinks Read by Three is a critical program and that it would be at the top of her list for an infusion of the increased General Fund revenue authorized by the Economic Forum.
Gansert and Roberts also backed the higher weighted average per student for the Gifted and Talented programs and convinced a majority of the joint Senate Finance/Assembly Ways and Means meeting to add the $5.2 million to pay for it.
But the subcommittee got hung up on the “hold harmless” mechanism to protect county school districts that would otherwise lose revenue under the new pupil-driven school funding system that will replace the 50-year-old Nevada Plan.
According to staff, five counties – Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, Storey and Washoe – would lose money without hold harmless language to protect them.
They instructed staff to put actual numbers on the projected impact of hold harmless and without hold harmless so they can actually see what would happen.
Staff will have to put those numbers together fast because the full joint committee is scheduled to resolve those issues and finalize the K-12 budget Friday morning.