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Education funding not in Legislature’s special session starting Monday

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval early Thursday reversed course and announced next week’s special legislative session will not include budget tweaks for projected shortfalls in education funding.

“After consulting with legislative leadership I have decided that any potential budget challenges for the next biennium will be addressed during the next regular session,” Sandoval said in a statement.

“The special session agenda will be focused on the recommendations of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee.”

The governor’s announcement comes one day after he said he would also ask lawmakers to consider a “minor adjustment” to the room tax to help fill projected shortfall in public education budgets.

The much-anticipated special session will commence at 8 a.m. Monday. Sandoval will issue a formal proclamation Sunday, setting the official agenda of bills legislators will consider. Once he signs that document, legislators are banned from fundraising until two weeks after the session ends. Early voting starts Oct. 22 with the General Election on Nov. 8.

Topping the agenda will be a measure to raise Clark County room taxes to finance $750 million of a proposed $1.9 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas, the potential new home of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and UNLV football team. Included in that bill will be an additional room tax hike to help fund $1.4 billion to expand and improve the Las Vegas Convention Center.

A separate bill would authorize the Clark County Commission to raise the sales tax rate to pay for more police officers.

Sandoval last week left the door open to consider funding for education savings accounts, but took that off table Wednesday despite a push from some Republican lawmakers for a quick legislative “fix” during the special session. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Sept. 29 that ESAs are constitutional but cannot be funded with money designated for public education. Justices blocked the program from taking effect, saying a separate funding source is necessary.

The law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2015, sought to allow parents to set up accounts and claim state per-pupil funding to send their children to private school or pay for other alternative educational programs. The average annual amount per student is about $5,100. Roughly 8,000 applications have been received by the state treasurer’s office.

“I recognize the magnitude of this sweeping policy measure and consider it a major component of the reform package ushered in during the last legislative session,” Sandoval said.

The Pahrump Valley Times is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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