LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Education funding took a giant step forward on Wednesday as lawmakers unanimously approved a half-billion dollars over the next two fiscal years.

Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Jason Frierson described the funding as “historic support for public education” in a joint budget hearing in Carson City.

He said the funding was “doing the right thing by our kids.” He also remembered intense criticism in previous sessions, when education funding became highly political.

The funding — $275 million in fiscal year 2022 and $227 million in FY 2023 — elevates education funding through a “pupil centered funding plan” that was previously in place.

Wayne Thorley of the Legislature’s Fiscal Affairs Division.

That’s about a quarter of the estimated $10 billion needed over the next 10 years. Per pupil funding will jump from $7,455 to $9,096 for FY 2022, and from $7,466 to $9,185, according to Wayne Thorley of the Fiscal Analysis Division.

The funding will place 93.5% of Nevada’s students under the per-pupil funding, Thorley said. He noted that there is some funding that is not built into the formula, so per-pupil funding could actually be slightly higher in some cases.

Democratic Senator Chris Brooks led the joint session and noted the hard work by everyone involved.

Nevada Senator Chris Brooks.

Democratic Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton said it’s a clear signal that the Legislature has made education a priority.

“I think it bears repeating: We’re looking at adding over $500 million to education in less than 2 years after the pupil centered funding plan was discussed and implemented. And within those 2 years, there was a year of pandemic.”

Republican Senator Ben Kieckhefer agreed, calling the funding “significantly impactful.”

“I think the effort by this Legislature, and this body in particular, to make this a priority and commit to getting the pupil-centered funding plan to function as we had designed it is quite an achievement knowing where we started this session,” Kieckhefer said.

“It will certainly put some upward pressure rather than downward pressure on future sessions and future executives to continue funding education at an increased method, and I think that’s the point,” he said.

The Clark County School District also released the following statement about the funding approval:

“The Clark County School District appreciates the joint budget committee signaling strong support for education with a $500 million commitment to implement the new funding formula,  despite the economic uncertainty over the past year. CCSD is confident the increase to the base per-pupil funding over the next two years will have a positive impact on student achievement. Nevada still has a long road ahead to reach the national per-pupil funding average and this a huge step forward. Thank you to state lawmakers, including Speaker Jason Frierson, Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, Senator Chris Brooks, and Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton who have been advocates for education.”