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Return budget surplus by spending it wisely

Nevada Appeal Editorial

If you asked 10 people if they’d like a hundred dollar bill, chances are the answers would be unanimous.

That’s why the surprise from a recent poll asking what should be done with a projected state budget surplus is not that 36 percent of 600 likely voters wanted a refund. It’s that the number wasn’t even higher.

Could it be that Nevadans are recognizing there’s a difference between dieting and starving?

Of the people surveyed, 21 percent favored investing the surplus in education, and 14 percent wanted it used to fund transportation projects.

Nevada is enjoying good times economically, which is why there’s a projected $521 million state budget surplus. Add to that the state’s abundant natural resources, and you’ve got the makings of a paradise.

It’s not the kind of place you’d expect to find a lowly regarded education system or a backlog of highway projects.

But only Florida and South Carolina have higher dropout rates than Nevada. Our students are consistently in the bottom 20 percent in the nation in their math and reading scores. Our class sizes are bigger than all states but Arizona, Oregon, California and Utah.

We’re not proposing that the state throw the money at our schools haphazardly, but at specific projects that are likely to pay off in more successful students who are more likely to graduate and live successful lives. All-day kindergarten may be one example.

Our lawmakers have demonstrated they’re excellent watchdogs of the state’s budget, and their philosophy is not going to change soon. But sometimes you’ve just got to spend money.

The nice thing about spending it on education is that it will pay dividends for decades to come.