On January 17, 2017, Governor Sandoval gave his last State of the State address indicating his priorities for the 2017 Legislative Session.
We are encouraged and applaud the Governor for making the implementation of the Weighted Funding Formula one of his top education priorities. Although his budget only calls for $107 million, it’s a starting point for legislators. Funds included $42 million for Zoom Schools, $30 million for Victory Schools, $30 million for Special Education, and $5 million for GATE. Full implementation of the Weighted Funding Formula is CCEA’s top legislative priority. Senate Majority Leader Ford agreed that Democrats fully support funding to implement the Weighted Funding Formula. Again, this is a good starting point. We emphasize, a starting point. More money has to follow the student into the classroom.
Adequate money must follow the student. Categorical programs were the right thing to do when they were first introduced but now it is time to transition to full implementation of the weighted funding formula for students. Nevada is at a crossroads. This is our opportunity to finally get on the road of adequate funding for every student’s public education.
True to his word, the Governor stated that $60 million in funding Education Savings Accounts (ESA) is also his priority. Democratic leadership disagreed with a compelling argument to protect public education. There is no question that funds from public education cannot be diverted from students in public schools. The Governor did not say how he would fund ESAs though it appears it may be from a 10% excise tax on the sale of recreational marijuana.
As CCEA predicted three months ago, resolution of these two issues will determine the future of funding for public education in Nevada for the years to come. Gridlock politics will not advance Nevada’s education.
The Governor opened his address by saying he wanted bipartisan cooperation to find common ground to work through challenges and find solutions that both parties can work with. Democratic leadership agreed that both parties have to work together. CCEA welcomes this type of leadership. A Legislative Session of accomplishment cannot happen without this approach. Stay tuned! More information will be available as we analyze the budget.