What Happened To New Funding Raised For Education?
It seems that nearly every year lawmakers celebrate all the new money going to public education. But anyone who has been paying attention knows that Nevada continues to rank near the bottom in school funding.
How can this be?
Room, marijuana, commerce, and other taxes…why haven’t we seen more resources in our schools with all these new revenue sources?
A Dark History of Supplanting
Taxes are often raised “in the name of education,” but when it comes time to determine the budget for public education, these new revenue sources often SUPPLANTED, rather than SUPPLEMENTED, the K-12 budget. This means the state often used the new revenue going into the education budget as an excuse to REDUCE funding to education from the state’s general fund. And with Nevada’s old school funding formula, this shell game often went unnoticed.
In total, nearly $2 billion has been supplanted over the past decade. That’s money that should have increased resources for schools, but simply did not.
A Path Forward
So why would anyone want to raise taxes for schools knowing the state’s sordid history of supplanting.
In 2019, advocates urged lawmakers to develop a new school funding formula. Though not perfect, one aspect of the new formula creates much greater transparency around revenue raised for public schools and how it impacts the budget. Further, the formula includes language aimed at ensuring the Governor’s budget increases the state general fund contribution to the public education budget, to the extent practicable and in a way comparable to economic growth.
So now what?
The new funding formula improves our state’s ability to increase funding that actually reaces our schools. Now, we must actually fund it! Nevada continues to receives an F in funding effort, a measure of how our state’s GDP (economic health) compares to the dollars we invest in our schools. We have the means, but we haven’t made the effort.