Nevada Pushing Work Around for the Voucher Program Declared Unconstitutional Last Year; David Sciarra Calls It a Trojan Horse
Last year, advocates for public education in Nevada secured a majority victory. The Nevada Supreme Court found that the state's voucher program violated the state constitution's provisions for supporting public education. The program funded vouchers with money that the constitution mandates to go to public education. The Governor has now cooked up a new plan that he thinks solves the problem, but as David Sciarra points out, the new one, as a practical matter, is not really any different. And if it passes, it threatens to lead the state down the same path as Arizona, which I argued has placed the viability of public education in danger. Here is David Sciarra's essay, first published in the Las Vegas Sun:
Arizona offers glimpse into threat ESA bill poses to Nevada schools
Gov. Brian Sandoval is pressing lawmakers to revive the private school voucher program blocked last September by the Nevada Supreme Court. The court ruled the program was unconstitutional because it would deplete funds earmarked by the Legislature to operate Nevada’s public schools.
The governor’s bill, SB506, carries forward most features of the prior law. Sandoval wants the per-pupil amount spent on public school students, roughly $5,700, to be deposited into education savings accounts to subsidize private and religious school tuition and pay for other private education expenses. The governor also wants vouchers for any household, even the wealthy. And like the prior law, 100 days of public school enrollment is the only eligibility requirement.
To get around the Supreme Court ruling, SB506 changes the way vouchers are funded.
The funding will not come directly out of public school budgets. Instead, Sandoval proposes a separate appropriation of $60 million over the biennium.
At that level, approximately 2,500 vouchers can be awarded each year, not enough for everyone who signed Education Law Prof Blog: