Behind the Bar is The Nevada Independent’s newsletter devoted to comprehensive and accessible coverage of the 2021 Legislature.
In this edition: Is this the session lawmakers find a funding solution for the Millennium Scholarship? (No). Plus, it’s another deadline day, the future of Read by 3, building trades back Innovation Zones, major changes to a mental health hotline bill for first responders and details on an affordable housing campaign backed by the home builders.
Check this link to manage your newsletter subscriptions. This newsletter is published on Mondays and Thursdays.
I want to hear from you! Questions, comments, observations, jokes, what you think we should be covering or paying attention to. Email me at [email protected].
Near the end of his 1999 State of the State address, Gov. Kenny Guinn shared a major announcement: His administration would use its sizable share of the national tobacco settlement to fund a universal scholarship program for graduating high school seniors.
That program — dubbed the Millennium Scholarship — was promoted as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide Nevada’s children with the means to advance their education in a way never thought possible.”
“Using 50 percent of the settlement money to fund these scholarships, and reverting the unused portion of the initial years to an endowment fund, will enable us to fund these scholarships in perpetuity,” the governor said at the time. “Without an increase in taxes.”
More than two decades later, the program has become an unabashed success, helping more than 143,000 Nevada students pay for college over its 21-year-existence.
But continued success of the program (as well as Nevada’s population growth over the last two decades) has left the state in an uncomfortable position — the program has grown so large that it now takes general fund (i.e. tax) dollars to continue funding it.