Budgets Signed: The Last Day of the 2017 Legislature - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Budgets Signed: The Last Day of the 2017 Legislature

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With just hours left in the 79th Session, some major bills are still being discussed while some big budgets have already been signed. 

Education Funding: 

Also on Monday afternoon, Governor Sandoval signed Senate Bill 544, providing the funding budget for K-12 public education for 2017-2019.

The bill did come with some controversy.

On Friday, the Washoe County School District noticed a shortfall of $6.6 million dollars per year. They said that the potential shortfall was due to a calculation error. While Governor Sandoval says there was "no state error" he recognized the that "failing to respond to this fiscal problem will hurt students."

To prevent teacher layoffs, Governor Sandoval and lawmakers say they can consider allotting nearly $5 million to help the WCSD recover from this shortfall. The school district however will need to look at their own budget for the second year of the budget biennium. 

The Governor's Office says that this funding was written into an amendment for Senate Bill 550 Monday morning. The Assembly passed the bill on Monday afternoon. Governor Sandoval signed the bill later in the day along with the SB 544. 

Capital Improvement Funding: 

Senate Bill 546 provides funding for three big projects slated for Reno: a new DMV, a school of engineering at the University of Nevada and a new veterans home and Monday afternoon, Sandoval signed the bill into law. 

Republicans were holding back support for this bill, waiting first for democrats to support Education Savings Account funding. ESA's were excluded from the education budget on Friday but another compromise has been made. Sunday night, Heidi Gansert was one of three republicans to vote yes on SB 546. The bill passed through the senate with a vote of 15-6. On Monday, the Assembly passed it 34-8. 

Now the compromise didn't revive ESA's, instead republicans are looking to fund Opportunity Scholarships, a part of Senate Bill 555.  

Assemblyman Jim Wheeler says that ESA's would've given $5,100 per child for private school funding. Instead they're working on a deal to put more money towards Opportunity Scholarships which would give qualifying students up to $7800 for private school. Wheeler says it was this compromise that will allow the Capital Improvement funding bill to pass as well as the marijuana taxation bill. 

The Senate passed the bill funding Opportunity Scholarships Sunday night unanimously. Monday afternoon the Assembly passed it 34-8. Governor Sandoval signed the bill later in the day. 

Marijuana Taxation: 

Legislators revived Senate Bill 487  during the final weekend of the legislative session. The bill would impose a 10% sales tax on recreational marijuana in retail stores. This additional tax was part of Governor Sandoval's plan proposed in his State of the State address. The revenue was earmarked for education. 

The original bill hit a bump in the road on Friday when the republican Senators voted down the bill. Supporters however told us that with a few days left in the session, they believed it would be revived, just as it was two days later. 

On June 4th the Senate revived the bill but with an amendment moving the proceeds from the excise tax from the State Distributive School Account to the Rainy Day Fund. 

Senator Julie Ratti explained that since recreational marijuana is a new industry, it's difficult to anticipate how much money will be generated. So moving it to the Rainy Day Fund makes sense, because it is "probably the least reliable resource" that they have, ensuring no budgets are dependent on that money this cycle. 

Sunday the the Senate passed the bill 15-6. Monday afternoon the Assembly passed the bill 32-9 with one abstained. The bill now heads to Governor Sandoval's desk. 

Minimum Wage: 

Senate Bill 106 proposes that Nevada raise the minimum wage from $8.25 to $12 over five years, going up 75 cents a year. 

The Senate did pass the bill on May 17th with all Republican Senators voting opposed.  Monday June 5th the Assembly voted in favor, 27-15 along party lines. 

Governor Sandoval has in the past said that he doesn't support an increase. 

Government Funding: 

The budget for the State of Nevada is coming together. Senate Bill 545, outlining state employee budgets, was signed by Governor Sandoval Monday afternoon on the final day of the 2017 legislative session. 

SB 545 passed the Senate June 1st 12-9 and the Assembly Friday June 2nd 27-15. Click here to read the final budget amounts for various officers, departments, agencies, etc within the state of Nevada for the 2017-2019 biennium. It is one of several bills that make up the state's overall budget. 

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