Committee passes education shortfall bill |

Committee passes education shortfall bill

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted Friday to recommend passage of a bill containing $71.75 million for Nevada’s public schools this year.

The money in AB253 will make up a shortfall in public school funding between now and the end of June. Schools fell short of the revenue they expected because of a drop in sales tax collections following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Unlike other public agencies, per-pupil funding for schools is guaranteed by the state, so the general fund must make up any shortfall in the local school support tax.

Fiscal analysts say the amount will almost certainly be higher when the bill finally makes it through the Senate. Analyst Mark Stevens told the committee the amendment will be made by the Senate Finance Committee after the state receives the March sales tax numbers in the next two weeks.

But budget division analysts say that number is already at least $3 million higher than the $71.75 million in the bill.

That legislation accounts for the vast majority of supplemental appropriations before the 2003 Legislature. Supplementals are additional funding necessary for agencies and state funded programs to make it through the end of this fiscal year.

The next largest on the list is to balance the Medicaid budget. The Medicaid caseload is now about 162,000 — significantly higher than expected when the current budget was built. Administrator Charles Duarte told the committee that final number will also change a bit in the next week. The budget contains an additional $9 million to cover the costs.

In addition, $1.1 million is needed by the Department of Child and Family Services to cover higher medical costs for children and $613,557 for the Mental health and Developmental Services, for psychiatric services and clinical hours at rural clinics.

The Supreme Court needs $500,748 added to its budget to cover a shortfall in expected collections of administrative assessments during the past year and DMV needs $470,000 to cover increased postage and mailing costs.

There are several other smaller supplementals facing lawmakers. Altogether, the total is about $87 million — most of it in AB253.