83°F
weather icon Clear

Proposed budget that would fund school safety initiatives slashed

CARSON CITY — The proposed budget to fund school safety initiatives throughout Nevada was cut in half Thursday as lawmakers at the Legislature worked to close the state’s education budgets.

The budget originally proposed by Gov. Steve Sisolak dedicated $54 million to a new school safety account that was to be funded by the 10 percent retail tax levied on all recreational marijuana sales.

On Thursday, the joint Senate and Assembly money committee cut the funding to those programs by more than $30 million. The budgets are not yet finalized, and lawmakers could find money to restore them before the session ends.

The move comes after Sisolak earlier in the week introduced a bill that would direct all revenue from the retail marijuana tax — about $120 million over the next two years — to public schools as a way to increase per-pupil funding and pay for raises for teachers that Sisolak promised in his State of the State address.

“They gutted it,” Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said after the meeting. “I just can’t understand the logic of doing that.”

“Creating a safe environment for all of our children when they go to school I think should be a top priority for us. And the idea that they just backed out $30 million that was dedicated to doing that is unfathomable to me,” he added.

The biggest cut from the proposed budget came out of the funds for infrastructure safety improvements, like new locks, security doors and cameras that were identified as areas of need through former Gov. Brian Sandoval’s school safety task force. That body was created in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018 that left 17 people, including 14 students, dead.

Sen. Keith Pickard, R-Henderson, also criticized the cut, In a tweet, Pickard compared the cuts to school safety initiatives to Democrats passing the background check initiative earlier in the session.

“They spend two days ramming a gun control bill down Nevada’s throat on the claim it makes schools safer then they rob the account?” Pickard said in the tweet.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, shot back at those comments.

“Let me be clear, we have not cut funding for school safety,” Cannizzaro said in a statement. “The reality is, we are funding school safety at a higher level than it was funded in last session’s budget.”

Cannizzaro also lambasted Republicans, saying they have been unwilling to discuss the Democrats’ proposal to extend the modified business tax in an effort to bolster education funding.

“If our Republican colleagues are truly concerned with funding education and school safety, then the impetus is on them to come forward and discuss extending the MBT, which so far, not one of them has been willing to do,” she said. “We would love to get to a place where we could add even more enhancements to school safety, and if the Republicans share that goal, they should come in and have a discussion about how to achieve that instead of trying to play political games with our students’ well being.”

Sisolak’s proposed budget called for $25 million for those projects over the next two years, but the finance committee voted to cut that down to $7.5 million.

Other money available

Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said following the meeting the cuts to the infrastructure funds came after discussion with the urban school districts in Clark and Washoe, which she said had indicated that they had ability to pay for those projects through their own capital improvement funds

The remaining funds — about $7.5 million — would be used by the rural school districts who don’t have that ability, Woodhouse added.

Woodhouse said she believes the local school districts will follow through with those improvements even without the state dollars.

“They want to make sure that their schools are safe, their teachers, their students are safe,” she said. “And they want parents to feel and to know that they’ve done everything they can to keep children safe.”

The governor’s spokeswoman, Helen Kalla, said that Sisolak “will spend the remainder of the session working with legislative leadership on their shared priorities: improving our education system, keeping our schools and communities safe, and expanding opportunities for all Nevadans.”

Upping per-pupil funding

The committee also approved redirecting the marijuana tax money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the state’s public education funding account, called the Distributive Schools Account.

The move adds about $120 million to the account over the next two years, which the legislative staff estimates will increase the state’s per-pupil funding by $120 and $124 per student in the next two fiscal years, respectively.

The 10 percent retail marijuana tax was originally proposed to help fill an estimated $33 million shortfall in funding for the state’s Millennium Scholarship account.

Woodhouse said that lawmakers are committed to ensure that the scholarship, which is utilized by thousands of college students in Nevada each year, is fully funded going forward.

But Woodhouse said they haven’t quite figured out where that money will come from.

“We haven’t landed on anything yet,” she said. “We’re looking for it, and we’re going to find it.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
THE LATEST
Sisolak signs public records reform bill into law

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill that strengthens Nevada’s public records law, making it easier and cheaper for people to get public records and providing for fines if public agencies willfully flout the law.