Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2018

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Nevada Territory

Assembly passes bill to use reserves for school construction

Sun Coverage

A bill that would allow school districts to use more bond reserves for construction projects, rather than letting the cash sit in the bank, passed the Nevada Assembly today along a party-line vote.

The bill would "honor what voters passed" when they voted to extend their property tax rates for school construction and maintenance, said Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks. It would also create needed construction jobs, she said.

But Gov. Brian Sandoval has other plans for that money. His budget proposed taking $425 million from school districts' bond reserves -- including $300 million from Clark County -- to pay for operating costs.

Republican Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Henderson, said Assembly Bill 183 "blows a hole in the budget."

He called Democrats "disingenuous" for not proposing a "holistic alternative" to Sandoval's budget.

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval, said the governor will veto "any bill that leaves a hole in the governor's recommended budget."

The bill still has to pass the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 11-to-10 majority.

Democrats, backed by school district testimony, have said Sandoval's plan to use construction money for operations is faulty -- more like $99 million instead of $425 million. Sandoval's budget office continues to defend the proposal.

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