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Assembly targets 5 percent cut in education

CARSON CITY — Assembly members voted Wednesday to make it their goal to reduce the 10 percent cut in funding to public education proposed by Gov. Jim Gibbons to 5 percent.

Under Gibbons’ plan, state funding to public education would be reduced by $176 million. But Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, called that an intolerable amount because more than 2,000 teachers in Clark County could be laid off. She suggested a 5 percent reduction, or an $88 million cut in state appropriations.

Buckley then polled members, and a majority agreed with the lower cut. Only 14 of the 42 members are Republicans. If the Democrats vote as a bloc, they would have enough votes in the house to override a Gibbons veto.

For weeks, legislators have avoided answering questions about what cut to public schools would be acceptable.

"We can do better than laying off thousands of teachers," said Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno.

She said that it is vital for the state to have a strong education system, but that she could not commit now to a specific cut to education.

While legislators will try to reduce the education cut, they have not yet announced a specific plan to find the additional $88 million in revenue they would need.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, wants to find $100 million or more in additional revenue from the mining industry, but no plan on how to accomplish that has been announced.

"I’d like not to cut education at all," said Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno. "I think 5 percent is a doable goal."

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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