Trouble for teacher loans program | NevadaAppeal.com

Trouble for teacher loans program

The legislative Interim Finance Committee on Wednesday put the brakes on a home loan program Gov. Jim Gibbons proposed to help attract teachers to Nevada. Gibbons said he was trying to do it by changing the rules in an existing program without going through the legislative process.

The issue came up with Chaz Horsey of the Housing Division requested IFC approval to use $61,200 to accept bond transfer fees for the Governor’s Teachers’ First Home Loan program.

Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said she likes the concept but wasn’t sure whether this is a new program or part of the existing first time home buyers program the state has operated for 15 years.

Horsey said it was the same program, that they were just changing it so that math, science and special education teachers get first priority for the money.

“You’re recommending changing the availability so that it’s just for teachers? ” she asked.

He said hopefully, there will still be some money available for other first time home buyers of modest income.

Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, said she too likes the idea, but that this funding request seems “an attempt to get around the legislative process.” She said it also appears to be an attempt to get around the Education First constitutional requirement that Gibbons created and requires that public school budgets be funded before any other state government budgets.

She said the idea was raised during the last legislative session.

“At that time, there was discussion there may be other deserving classes,” she said.

After the item was deferred for staff to study more closely, Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the state has shortages not only of teachers but nurses, social workers and other professions. She too said the idea has merit but needs to be thoroughly looked at and developed with legislative input.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.