Las Vegas Sun

August 20, 2019

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Nevada measure aims to divert pot tax money to education fund

Recreational Weed Sales Start

L.E. Baskow

Plenty of cash changes hands at Jardin as recreational purchasing of marijuana has began at Midnight in Nevada and dispensaries across Las Vegas open and conducting a brisk business on Saturday, July 1, 2017.

CARSON CITY — A Nevada bill introduced Tuesday aims to boost education funding by redirecting money from a marijuana sales tax.

The legislation proposes rerouting funds from a 10% sales tax on retail marijuana sales away from the state's rainy day fund and toward education funding. Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said the change will redirect about $120 million to fund education over the biennium.

"We are committed now to making sure that that money goes directly into public education," he said at a Tuesday news conference.

The proposed education funding bump comes days after the Clark County Education Association teachers union stepped up pressure on lawmakers by announcing that their members had authorized a strike during the next school year if demands for pay raises and resources are not met.

Gov. Steve Sisolak outlined a 3% cost of living pay increases for public school employees and a 2% merit pay raise in his proposed budget.

According to an estimate by the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, the governor's budget is short $107.5 million in giving those increases while keeping per-pupil funding the same.

Sisolak issued a message to teachers during the Tuesday news conference: "We have not stopped working to get you the raises we promised @ the very beginning of the year."

The proposed redirection of marijuana sales tax money comes one day after Senate Democrats rolled out a bill that aims to overhaul how Nevada allocates education funding.

Yet the funding formula bill spurred sharp criticism from the Nevada State Education Association, which released a statement saying "no new education funding plan will work without new and additional revenue."