Nevada Lawmakers Discuss Education Funding - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Nevada Lawmakers Discuss Education Funding

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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that education is a priority.

"For the first time since I've been serving in the legislature, we actually are in pretty peak agreement on how we get there and what we want to do. We just aren't in agreement of when. We don't want to wait a decade," says Sen. Debbie Smith (D).

Republican Assemblyman Pat Hickey adds, "The way to get to a point of where we agree is to keep talking and keep listening."

Both Governor Brian Sandoval and state Democrats have voiced their support of English language learning and all-day kindergarten programs.

But state Democrats are hoping to add $310 million to the state's education budget. More than twice as much as the governor's proposed $135 million increase.

"Studies sill show that kids do better if we catch them earlier and I think it's important, in week four, that we start talking about our education needs," says Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D).

Richard Stokes, the Superintendent of the Carson City School District agrees.

"Having them available and in front of a teacher longer than just the typical 2.5 hours, it does give them a benefit.

The goal is to have these kids at or near reading level by the time they start first grade. But many students fall behind early, because they don't speak English.

"Not because of any other reason other than they don't know what our teachers are saying. So, having full- day kindergarten is a wonderful way for those and many other types of situations for students to get a leg up."

Sen. Smith adds, "If you fund full-day kindergarten appropriately, it will also help the ELL kids."

Democrats are calling for $71-million more than the governor's proposed $20 million to fund all day kindergarten.

But if that means raising taxes, it could be a hard sell to Republicans.

"If education is really our number one priority, then we can look at reducing in some other areas," says Assem. Hickey.

Next Tuesday lawmakers will hold a hearing on the margins tax.

If approved, it would add a 2% tax on businesses that make more than $1 million a year.

Those in favor say it would bring in $800-million for education each year. Opponents say it will hurt businesses.

Written by Paul Nelson

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