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June 3, 2015

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Damon Political Report

Sandoval to propose needs-based school voucher program

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Justin M. Bowen

Gov. Brian Sandoval addresses the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011.

Updated Monday, Feb. 28, 2011 | 3:21 p.m.

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CARSON CITY - After repeatedly emphasizing during his campaign that every Nevada child should have access to school choice, Gov. Brian Sandoval will propose a needs-based voucher program that will allow poorer families access to more money than families with a higher income.

Sandoval will seek a constitutional amendment — which would require the Legislature to pass it twice before it goes to a vote of the people — to implement the voucher program.

In new details released today, Sandoval’s senior adviser Dale Erquiaga said the program would award families a certain percentage of the per pupil funding given to public schools based on how close they are to the poverty line.

Erquiaga said the administration has not analyzed how much the program would cost.

“At this point, we don’t see much sense in talking about how many dollars will leave the system because they won’t leave the system for six years,” he said.

During the campaign, Sandoval’s opponent estimated a voucher program would cost about $100 million, based on the number of children currently enrolled in private schools.

“That number is a fallacy,” he said. “It won’t cost $100 million. That would assume every child currently in private school will take a voucher. Well, in our proposal they aren’t all going to be eligible.”

Erquiaga said he wasn’t sure the exact income level that would make a family ineligible for the voucher, saying it was either 300 percent or 400 percent of poverty. SEE UPDATE BELOW.

During the campaign, however, Sandoval was adamant that every child have access to voucher money.

“The great thing about this is everybody would be eligible for it,” he said during the campaign. “Every family, every parent would have the ability to decide where they will send their child to school. I think that’s extremely important.”

Erquiaga backtracked when a reporter asked about Sandoval’s campaign promise.

“Well, I think it will be,” Erquiaga said. “There’s some level where you’ll get the lowest amount possible based on the needs test.”

UPDATE: After the press conference, Erquiaga checked the language of the bill draft request submitted by Sandoval. Under that language, the highest income families would be eligible for vouchers worth 50 percent of the per pupil funding. No families would be ineligible for vouchers.

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