After a frantic deadline this week at the Nevada Legislature, most of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s ambitious plan to overhaul the state’s K-12 education system remains intact.
Though the majority of bills touted by the popular Republican governor made it through the Tuesday deadline unscathed, nearly all of the education initiatives introduced in Sandoval’s January state of the state address are tied to his two-year, $7.3 billion budget, including more than $1.1 billion in new and extended taxes.
But Sandoval says he’s confident that measures he’s supported will reach his desk by session’s end.
“I’m very encouraged in regards to my legislative agenda in terms of how it’s progressing,” he said. “I think practically every bill is moving forward.”
Here’s how Sandoval’s legislative agenda is faring:
Sandoval signed a bill in early April creating a tax credit for companies that donate to a qualifying private school scholarship organization. AB 165 was roundly rejected by Democrats, who said they feared diverting money away from public schools.
The governor also approved SB 119, which removes a sort of minimum wage on school construction projects and allows schools to extend construction bonds beyond the term approved by voters. He’s signed AB 76, which extends free tuition for veterans from two to five years and requires better tracking of veteran students at Nevada colleges.
EDUCATION ON HORIZON
Sandoval proposed a laundry list of K-12 programs in his state of the state, including:
SB 391, requiring schoolchildren to be able to read proficiently and holding back students who don’t meet reading standards.
AB 483, creating a teacher performance pay program.
SB 405, allocating an additional $50 million to so-called Zoom Schools that serve high populations of non-English-speaking students.
SB 504, an omnibus anti-bullying measure.
AB 448, allowing charter organizations to take over low-performing public schools.
SB 432, creating “Victory Schools” and creating a $25 million fund for low-performing schools with high student poverty rates.
Those bills and several others increasing funds for school breakfast, allocating millions of dollars for updated school technology and all-day kindergarten are making their way through the Legislature.
Republican Sen. Becky Harris, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said the measures mostly have received bipartisan support but legislative legal staff needed time to work out kinks in bill language. Most Sandoval-backed education measures have been declared exempt, meaning they will be immune to legislative deadlines until May 27.
Funding those programs will require lawmakers to approve up to $1.1 billion in new and extended taxes, but Sandoval said lawmakers generally agree the budget needs to be funded and said he’s optimistic a tax package will pass.
“Those little kids are counting on me, counting on them (lawmakers) to get this done,” he said.
Sandoval has focused on veterans issues, asking lawmakers for $14 million to help build a veterans home in northern Nevada. He’s also championed legislation giving priority in state bidding contracts to businesses owned by veterans with service disabilities.
The governor is sponsoring a measure to ease restrictions on getting medication that helps counter drug overdoses. The so-called Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act would make it easier to access naloxone, a non-addictive drug, and reduce criminal penalties for calling in drug overdoses. SB 309 passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday.
Sandoval supported an Assembly measure allowing the appointment of local school board members, but the bill died without a committee vote. He said he still backs the concept of appointing at least some members to school boards in Reno and Las Vegas but said he understood the bill had little support.