A bill to create a reserve fund for education has support throughout Nevada’s school and university systems but might have a problem overcoming a potential veto from Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Assembly Bill 241 by Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, would divert to a rainy day fund 50 percent of unspent education money, cash that is now sent directly to the general fund if it isn’t spent in schools.
Had such a system been in place in 2009 when the state sought to make a $323.8 million supplemental appropriation to education, it could have tapped reversions from 2003-07 that totaled more than $300 million, Smith said.
“You basically gave away money that was earmarked for education, then the next year you had to find $323.8 million,” Smith told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee .
In addition to Smith, witnesses from the Clark and Washoe county school districts and the Nevada System of Higher Education testified in favor of the bill.
It would create a problem with Sandoval, however, because it takes money he intends to use to help balance the budget.
Andrew Clinger, Sandoval’s budget director, said the administration includes an assumption that reversions of 2 percent will happen across all accounts, although they don’t always materialize. In the case of the Distributive School Account, which Smith’s bill would tap, that totals about $18.2 million per year, Clinger said.
Sandoval senior policy adviser Dale Erquiaga has said bills that spend money from the governor’s proposed budget without replacing it from another source are likely to meet a veto.