Sandoval education cuts “by far the largest” ever in Nevada

A new report from the economics research firm Applied Analysis says Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed cuts to k-12 education are "by far the largest in modern history" of Nevada and could cause labor unrest to "spill into the legislative process."

The three page preliminary analysis memo from Jeremy Aguero, attempts to quantify the proposed cuts that Republicans and Democrats have been fighting to define in advance of the 76th session of the Nevada Legislature which opens Monday.

Republicans want to present the cuts as part of a process to reform the way education is delivered in Nevada and improve on results that are among the worst in the nation. Democrats are seeking to portray the cuts in as drastic manner as possible, suggesting they will lead to devastation throughout the education system.

Aguero pegged the overall cut at about 9 percent compared to the budget the Legislature approved in 2009, or $685 per pupil when all state and local sources are included.

When compared to the budget the Democratically controlled Legislature and former Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons approved in the 2010 special session, a budget that included a 6.9 percent cut to education, the Sandoval cuts amount to 6 percent, or $470 per student.

Aguero also said Sandoval’s plan to shift from dedicated funding streams to a system of block grants might have unintended consequences.

"Though it might be asserted that block grants would offer school districts flexibility in balancing reduced budgets, it should be noted that districts may face restrictions in reallocating money from earmarked payroll programs to general operations," Aguero wrote, citing the example of $290 million in class size reduction money being dedicated by law to salaries and benefits for 1,600 teachers. "Therefore, instant conversion of these monies to other uses may pose labor concerns that could spill into the legislative process."

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