By J. Alex Kelly, Vice President of Advocacy, The Foundation for Excellence in Education
The Nevada General Assembly approved Senate Bill 555 earlier this week, increasing the state’s cap on tax-credit scholarships by $20 million. The increased cap is an opportunity for approximately 2,500 students, maybe more, to receive a scholarship and customize their education to their personal needs. This is a welcome increase for those families already on a wait-list for the state’s Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program.
The passage is also a bitter pill, a concession, for Nevada school choice supporters who were advocating for funding Nevada’s universal education savings accounts (ESAs) program, ever since the Nevada Supreme Court deemed its funding unconstitutional in fall of 2016. The Court ruled the program constitutional, although deemed that funding for ESAs must be done through its own line item, rather than through the education funding formula.
Governor Brian Sandoval championed funding for ESAs throughout the session although legislative leaders were not able to reach a compromise on ESAs and other items on the negotiation table. This leaves an unfunded ESA law still in the statutes, and more than 2,500 families with scholarships approved or pending approval in limbo and frustrated.
Overall, the last-minute pivot to increase support for tax-credit scholarships salvages some forward momentum for Nevada families seeking better options for their students, and advocates will have to look to Nevada’s 2019 Session before there is another opportunity to fund universal ESAs.
Interested in learning more about tax-credit scholarships in Nevada? Please reach out.