Education funding approved clearing way for passage of the 2020-2021 Nevada budget |

Education funding approved clearing way for passage of the 2020-2021 Nevada budget

By Geoff Dornan

The Assembly has given final legislative approval to the bill that funds K-12 education for the coming two year budget cycle.

That clears the way to pass the other four bills than enact the state budget.

AB555 had to be passed first as required by the Education First constitutional provision.

Now that it is on its way to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk, lawmakers can vote on the Appropriations Act, the Authorizations Act, the PAY Bill and the Capital Improvement Projects budget.

Altogether, those measures appropriate and authorize the expenditure of more than $28 billion in the coming two fiscal years.

The K-12 budget bill alone contains a total of just over $8 billion.

The Distributive School Account that pays for the basic per pupil support to the 17 county school districts as well as class size reduction and special education totals $6.7 billion. The DSA funding guarantees an average per pupil amount from the state of $6,218 in 2020 and $6,288 in 2021.

When local money from the Local School Support Tax and school support property taxes are added in, total per student support totals more than $10,000 each year.

But as Ways and Means Chair Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, pointed out on the floor, the state puts millions more into public education every biennium. She pointed to the $219 million in the Zoom, Victory Schools, Read By Grade 3 and similar programs that are outside the DSA but still funded with General Fund money. In addition, there is $69.5 million a year in the New Nevada Education Plan program that provides an added $1,200 per eligible student.

The largest of the bills is the Authorizations Act that contains almost all non-General Fund money, the largest piece being federal funding that totals more than $10 billion. The largest piece of that is the $6.7 billion federal share of Medicaid.

The Pay Bill sets maximum salaries for unclassified state administrators and contains the 3 percent raises promised by the governor and lawmakers. The Appropriations Act lays out how the General Fund revenue not in the K-12 bill is spent and the CIP bill the state’s maintenance and construction plan for the next two years.

All four have already been approved by one house. The Authorizations Act by the Senate and the remaining three by the Assembly.