Funding Formula Bill (SB543) In Assembly’s Hands
As hundreds of parents, educators and Nevada residents have made more efforts to understand education funding, they’ve also come to understand the issue of supplanting and how it shortchanges our students.
Educate Nevada Now has made it one of their efforts to explain how the IP1 Room Tax and voter approved Marijuana tax dollars supplanted instead of supplemented the education budget, meaning they didn’t actually increase funding to schools.
Believe it or not, this is not unique in education funding throughout the country. Lotteries, marijuana dollars, and other taxes have been raised in the name of education in states like Oklahoma, California, Florida and Colorado and don’t always result in education dollar increases.
This is why the new State Education Fund and Maintenance of Effort requirement in SB543 (the new school funding formula bill) is critical and could potentially be a model for other state’s to follow.
How do the State Education Fund and Maintenance of Effort function?
State Education Fund:
All state and local funding sources will be grouped into a new State Education Fund. These funding sources must include direct legislative appropriation from the State General Fund to the State Education Fund. This ensures money does not revert back to State General fund at the end of the year and the balance in the State Education Fund will roll over to the next fiscal year ending the issue of supplanting
Maintenance of Effort:
As the formula goes forward, the Governor must propose in his budget an increase in that State General Fund contribution at the rate of inflation and enrollment growth, or proportional to economic growth, whichever is greater (unless there is an economic decline). Section 9.1 (a-c). In the transition to SB 543, there won’t be a “hole” because the state general fund contribution can still be similar to what is was previously.
ENN has expressed its concerns with some aspects of the funding formula bill, and we have suggested amendments to address our concerns. However, the State Education Fund and MOE requirement of SB 543 are some of the highlights of the bill that we and other education advocates have overwhelmingly touted as positive.
Adopting this portion of the bill shows not only a good faith effort to increase funding for K-12 but also ensures Nevada schools benefit when our economy benefits. This also helps instill trust in our funding system and creates more of an appetite to identify additional revenue sources to benefit our students.
We understand the concerns with such a commitment, especially as it is presented so late in the legislative session with little time to understand and deliberate. Our legislature has a tough job and although we focus a lot of the discussion on K-12 we understand that there are other critical programs that also need stable funding. However, this doesn’t tie the hands of our legislature or mean that legislators must honor that budget, but only that it must be reflected in Governor proposed budget and recommended to the legislature. The provision in the bill allows for considerations during hard times and can be adjusted accordingly.
While not all advocacy groups agree on SB543, many who testified “In Favor” “Opposed” and “Neutral” including urban, rural and small school districts, educator associations, parent groups and others agree that this specific provision of the bill will be a tremendous help and set our schools and students on a path to success, while also respecting the will of our tax payers.
We understand the hard work ahead for our assembly members who now have to make tough decisions on the bill after being given such limited time and little feedback leading up to its release, but we hope that as they propose amendments they deem necessary, they preserve this section that so many agree on.