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Waiver for Nevada sought to help secure school funds

WASHINGTON — Nevada’s two House Democrats on Tuesday endorsed a waiver that could allow the state to qualify for federal grants for schools even if it can’t meet the financial requirements.

Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to support a waiver provision in the economic recovery bill that House and Senate leaders might finish in the coming days.

“A waiver of this nature will give states like Nevada the best chance to receive the funding that they so desperately need for critical education programs,” the lawmakers said in a letter to Pelosi.

A copy of the letter was delivered to Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who is expected to be on the House-Senate conference panel writing the final bill.

The Senate version of the stimulus bill would allow the secretary of education to waive the requirements that states must meet to obtain education grants.

The House version contains no waiver provision. At stake are at least $256 million in grants from a “state stabilization fund” in the bill.

Democrats in the Nevada Legislature say they fear the state will fail to meet so-called maintenance of effort requirements in order to qualify for the money.

Those rules require states to maintain spending for elementary and secondary education, and for higher education, at least at what was spent during the 2005-06 fiscal year, a bar that could be too high.

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