LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Governor Steve Sisolak and legislative leaders unveiled their plan to fund teacher raises amid a big budget shortfall by the Clark County School District. But there’s a catch: A tax increase is on the line, and it’s not coming from state lawmakers.
The funding fix to fully-fund teacher raises will come as an amendment to Assembly Bill 309. If approved in the coming weeks, lawmakers will allow the county commission to vote on whether or not to raise the sales tax by a quarter percent, generating about $100 million a year.
Governor Sisolak didn’t hold back during a press conference saying his budget team was able to give every district enough money to give teachers raises. That was before the district announced a $120 million deficit next year.
“We received education budgets from every school district, we fully funded those budgets; we included money for increased costs, for roll-ups, for attendance, for enrollment, for health care costs,” Sisolak said. “We fully funded merit increases, we fully funded 3 percent pay raises, and then there’s deficits of a moving target; it was $60 million, $90 million, $120 million, $180 million. I don’t know what the number is.”
Assembly Bill 309 would authorize county commissions to raise the sales tax to cover some educational services. Sisolak said it’s important to figure out why school districts are seeing yearly deficits as the state increases education funding.
“I can tell you the system is structurally flawed,” Gov. Sisolak said. “We need to fix the system; the number keeps changing; it keeps moving. We funded fully the budgets that we were given, now that’s getting lost somewhere out there in the discussion. But that was funded, and now the numbers have changed.”
On Monday, CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara responded to criticism from the governor about the deficts, saying: “We agree with the Governor; there is a structural problem with the way we fund K-12 education that has caused ongoing deficits. Nevada is one of two states in the nation that bases funding off of previous expenditures instead of what it actually costs to educate students.”