In 2019, hundreds of educators rallied in red in front of the legislative building and called attention to Nevada’s woefully underfunded schools, 47th in per-pupil funding at the time. During that session, NSEA called for new revenue, but Democratic majorities took that off the table. NSEA supported SJR14 to fix Nevada’s property tax structure in 2017; however, it failed to even get a hearing in 2019.
Instead, the Legislature passed SB543, a new school funding formula with no new revenue. SB543 created the Commission on School Funding and charged it with recommending funding targets and identifying revenues to fully fund Nevada schools. In April 2021, the Commission published their Preliminary Recommendations Regarding Optimal Funding, proposing to reach “adequate” funding by increasing education investment by $2B/year within the next 10 years.
During the 31st and 32nd Special Sessions and in the 2021 Regular Session, with Nevada dropping to 48th in per-pupil funding, hundreds of educators rallied again and again for new revenue. We supported a bold mining tax proposal in AJR1, several property tax bills, and Senator Neal’s SB346 to establish parity for digital goods. Property tax reforms and the digital goods tax were buried. AJR1 failed to even get a hearing, while a back-room deal was cut with mining. Meanwhile, legislators lauded "record" education funding, as they attempted to cover up the fact that per-pupil funding actually decreased in 2021.
Now today, you will hear a presentation from the Commission on School Funding Chair, Guy Hobbs, on potential options to generate additional funding from property taxes for K12 education. Hopefully, you will soon also hear of the Commission’s proposal to expand the sales tax to certain services and digital goods. NSEA has closely followed the work and believes the Commission is sincere in its efforts to raise new revenue. Unfortunately, you may also see political advertisements from the campaigns of both candidates for Governor with the slogan “No New Taxes.” If recommendations for new revenue are up against a "no new taxes" pledge, then it's unclear why the Commission has been earnestly working on this issue for almost 3 years.
Nevada educators are increasingly frustrated and have been leaving in record numbers. We will no longer tolerate the political games and misdirection. Adequate funding for schools is long overdue. Unless state leaders make serious progress, things will only continue to get worse.