The Final Battle approaches as the 2017 Nevada Legislature mercifully draws to an inglorious conclusion. It’s a battle over a half-loaf of bread that never should have been necessary in the first place. But when your state is led by “America’s Worst Governor,” stuff happens.
I’m talking, of course, about funding for Nevada’s landmark parental school choice program – Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
The voucher-like program was about the only good thing to come out of the 2015 Nevada Legislature – when Republicans had complete control of the government. About 8,000 families have applied for the $5,000/student stipends they can use for private school tuition, homeschooling, tutoring, textbooks, online courses, etc.
The Education Borg, naturally, sued to force Nevada’s low- and middle-income students to remain within the government-school collective. But the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the program passed constitutional muster as long as it was funded separately from outside the government-school budget.
With a $7 BILLION general fund budget, finding $140 million to get this program off the ground should have been a piece of cake for anyone who actually WANTED this program to succeed.
The golden opportunity was last October, when Gov. Brian Sandoval convened a special session of the Legislature to approve a $750 million tax hike to fund a new stadium in Las Vegas. At that point, Republicans still had the majority in both the Assembly and the Senate. And had the governor added the ESA funding matter to that special session, the fight would have been over.
But he didn’t.
Republicans subsequently, as everyone knew was going to happen, proceeded to lose their majorities on Election Day. Anti-ESA Democrats were now back in charge.
So in January, instead of including FULL funding for the ESA school choice program in his budget, America’s Worst Governor only asked for a paltry $60 million – in a budget that is jacking up overall spending by an addition $1 BILLION. So even if approved, less than half of the families who applied for the program will be able to participate in it.
And even that’s not good enough for Democrats, who only support a woman’s right to choose when it comes to aborting their children, not educating them.
What is particularly galling, though, are the taxpayer-funded education bureaucrats who have come out against this modest parental choice program. One in Clark County, Gia Moore, tweeted, “Forget voucher plan; Nevada lawmakers should give any extra money to the public schools.”
Yes, because her worst-in-the-nation school district has done such a bang-up job with the gobs of money they’ve already been given, right?
Even more galling is the fact that Moore wants to deny low- and middle-income parents the ability to choose their kids’ school while, according to Transparent Nevada, she’s hauling in almost $150,000 per year courtesy of the tax dollars those parents are paying!
Mind-blowing. Simply mind-blowing.
Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com