Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison files suit supporting Nevada vouchers law
Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison has filed suit in Clark County District Court on behalf of parents who want state money to send their children to private schools.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of families who have applied for the Educational Savings Accounts created by Senate Bill 302 of the 2015 Legislature. That law is intended to allow parents to take up to $5,000 a school year in state funds to help pay tuition for their children to attend private schools.
The law has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and others as unconstitutional because the Nevada Constitution prohibits using public funds to support religious groups and nearly all those private schools are operated by religious organizations.
Supporters of the law argue the money doesn’t go to the schools but to the parents. Opponents say since the money can only be turned over to the schools, that clearly violates the constitutional ban.
Hutchison said the lawsuit “seeks to assure those families that the ESA program will be timely and fully funded as intended by the Nevada Legislature and allow those families to access high quality education that may otherwise be out of their reach.”
Opponents also have filed for an injunction stopping the program from actually releasing funds until the legal issue of its constitutionality is resolved.
State Treasurer Dan Schwartz, in the meantime, is moving forward with the program. Regulations to implement it were approved just this week and Schwartz says he intended to begin issuing the payments next year.
Hutchison said on behalf of the more than 3,500 families who have applied for the vouchers, “we will seek an expedited decision to meet the timeline set forth by the law and, most importantly, to provide greater certainty for our students, parents, educators and schools.”