(Chuck Muth) – Tomorrow, the Legislature’s “Interim Finance Committee” (IFC) – controlled by Democrats – will meet to approve or reject Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo’s proposal to use $3.2 million in unspent COVID relief funds to restore money Democrats cut from the Opportunity Scholarship program in this year’s session.
Democrats have lost the moral high ground on the issue.
Their cuts, if not restored, mean hundreds of kids who got the scholarships last school year will lose them this school year and be forced out of the school of their choice and back into a public school failure factory.
As such, Democrat leaders are doing what they usually do when the facts aren’t on their side: They’re making sh*t up instead of getting sh*t done.
Fact is, there was around $11.4 million for Opportunity Scholarships for the last school year. For this school year – unless Lombardo’s proposal is approved – that funding will be cut to $6.6 million.
I was never exactly a math wizard in school. But from what I remember, $6.6 million is less than $11.4 million. In other words, the program’s funding was cut.
And here’s some historical perspective…
Back in the 2015 legislative session – when Republicans controlled both the Legislature and the governor’s office – Opportunity Scholarships were created with initial funding of $5 million.
Not a single Democrat – controlled by the teachers’ unions – voted for the bill.
The bill also provided for an automatic increase in funding of 10 percent per year. Had that provision remained in place, notes reporter Jacob Solis, the cap “would have hit more than $17.2 million annually by 2029.”
But the annual cap increase didn’t remain in place.
In 2017 – after Republicans lost control of the Legislature thanks to the stupidity of also passing the largest tax hike in state history in 2015 – Democrats agreed to a one-time boost in Opportunity Scholarship funding of $20 million as a compromise for killing the much broader Education Savings Account (ESA) program.
“Ever since,” Solis reports, “Democrats have sought to starve the program.”
In the 2019 session – again controlled by Democrats, but this time with a Democrat in the governor’s office, as well – the Legislature froze the funding cap for the program at $6.6 million and killed the automatic 10% increases.
However, as part of negotiations, an additional one-time appropriation of $9.4 million was approved so that existing scholarship recipients wouldn’t lose their scholarships and be forced back into a public school.
Then came the 2021 session – again controlled by Democrats with Democrat Gov. Sisolak sitting in the captain’s chair.
The $6.6 million cap remained in place, but the amount of one-time additional funding, so some kids wouldn’t lose their scholarships, was cut from $9.4 million to $4.7 million.
Slowly starving the program, indeed.
In 2022, Nevadans kicked Sisolak out of office and replaced him with Lombardo – though the Legislature, thanks in large part to gerrymandering districts after the census, remained in Democrat hands.
Lombardo campaigned on expanding school choice and won on a platform of expanding school choice.
“Joe believes that a student’s zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of their education,” his campaign declared on his website. And that included “providing more Opportunity Scholarships.”
In his State of the State Address back in January, Lombardo called for increasing the funding cap on Opportunity Scholarships to $25 million per year. The Democrats told him to pound sand and wouldn’t even hold hearings on the governor’s proposal.
With Democrat heels dug in on expanding the program, Lombardo’s team sought to at least keep funding this year at last year’s level so hundreds of low-income, mostly minority children wouldn’t lose their scholarships and be forced back into a public school.
But Democrats, hellbent on starving the program to death, again told the Republican governor to kiss their arse; thereby telling those hundreds of kids at risk of losing their scholarships to drop dead.
Those same Democrats – now suffering political backlash for screwing over these kids – are now claiming nobody ever raised the issue of kids losing their scholarships.
“It was never our intent that anybody in the program would lose their place due to lack of funding,” Democrat Assembly Speaker Steve “Donut Boy” Yeager said over the weekend. “It was not an issue that anybody raised during the legislative session.”
And if you believe that, the Tooth Fairy will be paying you a visit tonight and leaving a pot of gold he stole from the leprechauns under your pillow.
What kind of idiot would you have to be to cut funding from $11.4 million to $6.6 million and not know that some kids would lose their scholarships? Yeager’s claim doesn’t pass the smell test. It stinks like yesterday’s diapers.
As Mr. Solis reported, it has always been the Democrats’ intent to “starve the program.”
But let’s assume for a minute that Donut Boy is being honest. I know it’s a helluva stretch, but bear with me.
If it’s true that Democrats never intended for any existing scholarship recipients to lose their scholarships – and they just didn’t realize the consequences of their actions during the session – there’s a simple way to fix it.
Pass Gov. Lombardo’s funding proposal at the IFC meeting tomorrow.
The money wouldn’t come out of the general fund or education budgets. It’s from unspent COVID relief funds that have already been used by Sisolak and the Democrats for all manner of spending on non-COVID related programs and services.
Indeed, helping kids get a good education after Sisolak and the Democrats shut schools down for WAY too long during COVID is a far better use of such COVID funds than a lot of the other crap they’ve spent money on.
The public schools – which got a windfall budget boost of over $2 BILLION this year – won’t lose a dime. And kids who are currently in the school of their choice thanks to the scholarships won’t be forced into a failure factory.
A win-win for everybody…except the hostage-taking public school teachers’ unions. I can live with that. But can Democrats?
Doubtful. They care more about the teachers’ unions’ cash than kids. Remember in November.
Politics on the Rocks
Tickets for Citizen Outreach’s new “Politics on the Rocks” event will go on sale to the general public early tomorrow morning.
This is going to be a much smaller, more intimate event than we’ve held in the past to give folks more of an opportunity to mix-and-mingle with our VIP guests of honor.
Only 100 tickets are available.
Inner Circle members got first crack at the tickets yesterday and today – and half of the seats are already gone. So don’t wait to purchase tomorrow morning or you’re likely to be left out of what’s going to be one heckuva fun evening!
Politics on the Rocks
Monday, August 21, 2023
6:00 – 8:00 pm
VIP Guests of Honor:
Congressman Mark Amodei and Gov. Joe Lombardo
Vic’s Las Vegas Restaurant
355 Promenade Place
Las Vegas, NV 89106
Tickets: $25 / person
Early Bird special for Inner Circle Members: $1 / person
|(Limit 4 per member. Expires midnight, August 11th, or when tickets sell out)
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.” – H.L. Menken
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.