A controversial school voucher-like program that created chaos at the end of the 2017 legislative session likely won’t cause a similar brouhaha this year.
That’s because the Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program pushed by Republican legislators last year probably won’t even see the light of day, according to Democratic leadership.
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is on record opposing ESAs, which allows parents and guardians to remove their child from Nevada’s public school and instead directly receive a portion of the state’s per-pupil education expenditure to use for their child’s education.
And Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said he sees the proposal as a “nonstarter” when the Legislature convenes on Feb. 4.
“I don’t see us exploring that,” he told the Review-Journal last week.
But freshman Assemblyman Gregory Hafen, R-Nye County, is sponsoring a bill anyway, hoping to start the conversation anew.
“Education is a concern of mine in this state,” said Hafen, who was appointed to the seat after the death of brothel owner Dennis Hof. “I wanted to have one in there so it was on the table for discussion to try and improve our education system for future generations.”
Proponents argue that ESAs would give parents greater freedom in directing how their taxpayer money is used to educate their children. Opponents argue it hurts the public education system by removing money, and that taxpayer funds shouldn’t be used for expenses like private-school tuition.
Created and funded in 2015, the program was put on ice by Nevada’s Supreme Court, which said the program was legal but could not be funded from the same account that supports Nevada’s public schools.
A last-minute deal in 2017 would have set aside $60 million to test the program, but it collapsed in early June amid a fight among lawmakers over taxing retail