Assembly starts clock on General Fund spending for 2019 Nevada Legislature | NevadaAppeal.com

Assembly starts clock on General Fund spending for 2019 Nevada Legislature

The five bills that will enact the state’s $28 billion-plus two-year budget have now all been introduced as the 2019 Legislature moves into its final three days.

The last to come before committee was the K-12 education funding bill that, under the state constitution, must be the first one passed. It will be processed by the Senate.

The largest portion of that bill is the $6.7 billion in the Distributive School Account. That vast majority of that account pays for basic per pupil support to the 17 county school districts, class size reduction costs and special education.

Total General Fund money in the K-12 budget bill is $2.919 billion over the biennium. But the bill also contains funding from a dozen other sources including the marijuana tax, permanent school fund, Initiative Petition 1 room tax revenue and the federal mineral lease money.

Lawmakers were told basic per pupil support will increase about $300 each year to $6,218 in FY 2020 and $6,288 in FY 2021.

But they also were told when local revenues from the sales tax and property tax are added, total average per pupil funding will be $10,117 in 2020 and $10,319 in 2021.

The funding for each school district is calculated by a formula that takes into account local wealth among other factors so no district actually receives just that base amount.

Outside the DSA are several dozen programs including Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) at $9.5 million, some $10 million for Victory Schools, Read By Grade Three at $62.9 million, Zoom Schools at $50 million a year, Career and Technical Education at $27 million and funding for the New Nevada Education plan. That last program, which provides districts $1,200 per eligible student, is budgeted at $69.9 million a year.

Altogether, K-12 funding for the coming biennium totals just over $8 billion.

Assembly Bill 543, the Appropriations Act, contains almost all of the rest of the $8.8 billion in General Fund revenue lawmakers and the governor have to spend — $5.7 billion. In addition, the bill contains $264 million in Highway Fund money.

The Appropriations Act was introduced in the Assembly shortly before noon Friday but by law, it must sit for 24 hours before any action can be taken on it so it will be processed some time after noon Saturday. It funds the operations of general government and the Nevada System of Higher Education

The largest of the five bills is SB553, the Authorizations Act that contains almost all of the non-General Fund money and totals just under $18.8 billion. Most of that is federal money but it also authorizes the Nevada Department of Transportation to spend $971 million in highway funds.

The largest single piece in the Authorizations Act is the federal share of the $8.5 billion Medicaid budget, which comes to $6.7 billion.

Altogether, there is more than $10 billion in federal money in the state budget, the majority of it in Health and Human Services programs.

Also before the Assembly this weekend is AB542, the Pay Bill that sets maximum pay rates for all unclassified state employees — generally directors, administrators and top deputies but also special professionals such as doctors and psychiatrists — plus salary ranges for classified workers. This year, the Pay Bill includes the 3 percent Cost of Living Adjustment promised the state’s 26,000 employees by Gov. Steve Sisolak and lawmakers. Those raises will cost $62.9 million in General Fund and $13.5 million in Highway Fund cash over the biennium.

Assembly members will also handle the fifth measure as well. AB541 lays out the Capital Improvement Projects the state is funding for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years. That measure appropriates $60.8 million in General Fund cash and authorizes issuance of a total of $191 million in general obligation bonds.

Altogether, the CIP bill funds just over $302 million worth of maintenance, planning and construction projects.