Analysis: Venomous politics once again surround ESAs in Nevada – Las Vegas Sun


Protesters and Nevada lawmakers gather in opposition to Education Savings Accounts on March 20, 2017, in Carson City. In June, the Democrat-controlled Legislature defeated Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed $60 million in funding for ESAs.


Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts were born and reared amid heated political rancor, and on Monday it appeared the controversial voucher-type program was on its way to dying in a similarly contentious manner.

ESAs were created by Republican lawmakers in 2015 to provide state funding for parents wanting to send their children to private schools, with the GOP championing it as a pet issue that gave Nevadans greater control over their children’s education. But Democrats abhorred the accounts, arguing that they would funnel funding out of public education and would be especially damaging to low-income schools.

The program never really took off, as it was short-circuited in court and then was deprived of funding in 2017 by Democratic leadership. The more than 10,000 Nevadans who had signed up for ESAs were left in limbo.

Cut to Monday, though, and ESAs once again reared their head. This time it happened in a bit of late-session political jousting, with Senate Democrats voting to axe the program after trying and failing to get a compromise with the GOP on a key bill to extend the state payroll tax.

The Assembly approved the tax bill as it came over from the Senate, meaning the session ended with the bill on its way to Gov. Steve Sisolak complete with the ESA death sentence provision.

With the program’s future hanging in the balance, here’s a look at its (possibly) short and (definitely) turbulent life.

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