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Nevada Lawmakers Have Final Say on Education Funding

June 3, 2009

Carson City, NV – Nevada's record-setting veto session is over, and education is one area where lawmakers successfully fought back. They were able to restore almost $300 million that Gov. Gibbons had axed from the budget. The session began with Nevada facing a $2 billion deficit and the governor proposing to balance the budget with major cuts to K-12 public schools and higher education.

Reno Assemblywoman Debbie Smith (D-Dist 30) worked down to the wire to restore funding to help pay for teachers' salaries, personal development and retirement programs. She said it was difficult finding money in this economy, but lawmakers cobbled together enough revenue to offset nearly half the cuts.

"It turned out to be about 43 percent of the biggest funding items, so all in all, I think it came out much better for our school districts and our teachers than the way we started out."

Gibbons vetoed 41 measures, arguing the state did not have the money, but lawmakers voted to override more than half of those vetoes.

The governor originally cut teacher pay by six percent. Lawmakers restored a portion of that funding, and now attention shifts to local school districts. Lynn Warne with the Nevada Education Association is optimistic that schools will be able to fill the gap with local funding and a little budget maneuvering.

"The districts should be able to cover the contracts. Hopefully, we won't see any salary reductions or any benefits reductions, everyone will be able to keep their job and we will move forward with the status quo for the next couple of years until we get back to Carson City in 2011."

Gibbons did win one round, however. Lawmakers were unable to override his veto of money for the so-called "rainy day fund" for education.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV