April 27, 2021
Las Vegas, NV - Recently, the Nevada Commission on School Funding released its official recommendations to the Governor and Nevada Legislature for a ten-year plan to adequately fund the new Pupil- Centered Funding Plan.
The report states, “Nevada ranks among the bottom of all 50 states when comparing per-pupil funding for education, which results in fewer educational opportunities for our students and hinders student success. Because we know that investing in our children’s education is the key to our State’s economic future, the Commission on School Funding was charged with recommending a pathway toward an optimal level of funding for public schools in Nevada. Enhancement of funding is considered essential for any measure of adequacy or optimality.”
After a year and a half of monthly meetings the commission came up with two funding targets, restoration of funds and adequacy per the APA study and is still defining the cost of “Optimal”.
So far because the commission was able to cost out the adequacy target they have set forth funding recommendations and plans to increase annual funding for the PCFP by $2.1 billion, which puts Nevada at around the national average of per pupil funding.
“We are glad to see the commission put forth these recommendations to our state leadership, who have the ultimate responsibility to either adopt them or identify other ways to raise the revenue the formula needs to be successful,” said Amanda Morgan, executive director of Educate Nevada Now. “These recommendations align with Empower Nevada’s Future campaign to fund students at the national average, and we urge the legislature to move forward with steps toward increasing K-12 revenue. Doing so now is critical, as we are already behind on funding the PCFP due to the economic crisis.”
The recommendations include increasing and appropriately assessing property taxes and reducing property tax abatements that have resulted in a loss of nearly $840 million to schools in just the last biennium.They also recommend broadening the sales tax base by examining exemptions for discretionary goods and considering a tax on services to make these less regressive. The report states, "Levying taxes upon non-discretionary goods and services gives rise to concerns of regressivity as such taxes disproportionately impact those with less ability to pay for them. The focus, then, should be upon discretionary goods and services." The report also mentioned considering industry-specific taxes such as a commerce tax, gaming or mining. From the report, "These sources lack the revenue generating potential needed to fund the amount required to address the education funding challenge, either individually or possible even collectively. That said, they could be considered as a part of an effort to broaden the tax portfolio, or to supplement as needed."
“We appreciate the hard work of the financial experts on the commission and look forward to supporting their efforts by urging state leadership to fund the formula they established during the 2019 session,” said Rev. Paul Hansen, a leader with Nevadans for the Common Good. “This Commission has made clear that there is a path towards appropriately serving our students.”
“After listening to the commission meetings during the last few months it has become increasingly clear that Nevada must modernize its revenue structure and now it’s up to our state leadership to move Nevada forward,” said Rebecca Dirks-Garcia, President of Nevada PTA.
During the last Commission meeting in early April, member and finance expert Guy Hobbs closed his funding presentation with the following statement:
“What we have here is an identification for funding targets for something that is arguably among the most important services the government provides anywhere and therefore our story is definitely augmented by the fact that what we are talking about here is the education of Nevada's children. We’ve identified what it takes to achieve certain milestones and we've identified ways that already exist within our system of taxation that could potentially get us there,” Hobbs said. “And I suppose at that point it becomes a matter of choice and a matter of will as to whether or not we will be moving in that direction and accepting the fact that some of these decisions are going to be difficult ones.”
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To learn more about Empower Nevada’s Future visit www.EmpowerNevadasFuture.com