Money committees met Tuesday to close major parts of much-debated education accounts, and the move would create budget holes that would force Republican lawmakers either to vote “no” or approve a tax increase — an unlikely scenario considering their as-yet unwavering support of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s plan.
“We will fund public education at a level much higher than the governor has proposed and in a way that protects public education in Nevada, because our kids are our future,” legislative Democrats said in a statement.
The statement came after Sandoval scored a political victory Monday: An Economic Forum meeting revealed $274 million more revenue than predicted in December, and Sandoval has said he will add it to education.
The add-back softens the blow — and potentially the public outrage — from his original proposal, which seeks to ease the state deficit by cutting teacher salaries by 5 percent, having employees pay into their retirements, and decreasing per-pupil spending.
Other proposals include eliminating minimum spending levels for textbooks, full-day kindergarten and gifted and talented programs. The plan puts all the money in a single pot, reduces overall funding and allows districts to choose which programs take priority.
Democrats fought back, saying schools facing an $800 million cut will see layoffs, larger class sizes and school closures even with the new revenue.
“The governor’s proposal to decimate education completely ignores the important role it has in shaping our economy and our future as a state,” they said in the statement.
They have pushed for leniency in the governor’s hard-line stance to not increase taxes or fees, but Republicans stood firmly in support of Sandoval’s plan during large group hearings on the education budget, even before the financial outlook improved earlier this week.
While Democrats maintain control of the Legislature, Sandoval retains veto power over the budget.