Lawmakers put $60 million in General Fund savings back into education
After being told updated revenue estimates and enrollment projections reduced the amount needed to fund public education by $107.1 million, the money committees voted Saturday to put some of the savings back into education to raise the per pupil funding the state provides.
A joint session of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees put a total of $60.2 million back into K-12 education. That includes $20 million in each year of the biennium plus estimated $11.1 million a year needed to cover inflation in utilities, books and instructional supplies.
Altogether, that will raise the per pupil funding in each year by $64 over what Gov. Steve Sisolak recommended in his budget. Funding through the Distributive School Account will be $6,218 in fiscal 2020 and $6,288 in 2021.
Ways and Means Chairman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said the enrollment projections were reduced because, “there just wasn’t a level of growth in enrollment that was projected.”
She said the $11.1 million a year was a recognition that there is inflation in the costs school districts face and that this is the first time in a decade lawmakers have been able to fund inflation.
“It’s about time we started adding a little here and there,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jim Wheeler.
The state DSA contribution is just under two-thirds of total per pupil funding that, with local and federal cash, comes to just over $10,000 each year.
Total funding for K-12 education totals more than $8 billion, a $740 million increase over the current budget and the majority of it — $6.7 billion — is in the DSA. That money funds all 17 school districts and public charter schools on a per pupil basis. The amounts each district receives are adjusted to compensate for local wealth.
The General Fund savings from the updated revenue calculations include $53.6 million in updated revenue calculations and $42.5 million in adjustments to enrollment projections. They also include a series of technical adjustments.
The committee vote did not address the remaining $40 million in General Fund savings.