Hearing for funding Nevada ESA program ends without action

File photo: SBG

State lawmakers did not take action at a hearing Monday night to discuss Nevada's controversial Education Savings Account Program.

The joint Assembly-Senate committee meeting examined Senate Bill 506, which revises the funding mechanism for ESAs. Democratic legislative leaders gave three hours' notice for the hearing, which lasted three hours.

The Nevada Supreme Court found last year that the funding process violated the state's constitution by taking from the K-12 budget. The proposed bill would move the ESA program to the state's education department.

Gov. Brian Sandoval made revising the ESA program a priority in his State of the State address earlier this year, calling for $60 million in funding.

Lawmakers have brought up ESAs when discussing the Treasurer's budget this session, but this was the first hearing for a specific bill to revive ESAs.

Parents and Republicans on one side argued Monday that fully implementing the 2015 program could help families of meager means afford to move their children from a public school to a private, home or specialized education program.

Democrats and other parents argued public accountability cannot adequately follow public dollars if they're spent at private institutions.

After the hearing, Republican Assembly Leader Paul Anderson lamented the timing of the hearing, which came with just eight days left in the legislative session.

"We had hoped to come to a fruitful bipartisan agreement before a public hearing, and we hope that this chamber will come together for the sake of Nevada families," Anderson said in a statement. "Political sacrifices that are deaf to the voices of more than 10,000 families are unacceptable to me and to my caucus."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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