Nevada Governor Lombardo delivered his State of the State address in Carson City and highlighted his plans for the 2023 legislative session and the new proposed budget.
22% Increase in Public School Funding
The new budget contains $2 billion in new funding for K-12 students, including English language learners and at-risk students. That is an increase of more than 22% from the previous biennium. The new budget proposes spending $2,000 per student more next year.
Governor Lambardo will submit legislation to create the Office of School Choice within the Department of Education. “Traditional public schools are not - and should not - be the only option. Private schools, magnet schools, charter schools, micro schools, virtual schools and homeschooling are all viable alternatives that can increase the potential for student success,” Governor Lombardo said.
Over $730 million will be allocated to the Education Stabilization Account, a fund dedicated to K-12. Interested from this account will be used to provide scholarships to Nevada high school graduates who attend Nevada colleges or universities, and who are willing to teach in Nevada schools for at least five years.
The funding will also create career and technical education programs to increase the pipeline of qualified teachers.
To solve immediate shortage in teachers, retired teachers can return to work and draw both their retirement and a salary, with no strings attached. The budget also includes $30 million funding for the Teach Nevada Scholarship Program.
Governor Lambardo also imposes a new five-year rule: schools have five years to improve literacy scores and to ensure that students who are not proficient in reading do not advance beyond third grade, until they are brought up to grade level. And about $60 million in the budget will be used to expand preK programs.
Restore Funding for Higher Education Programs to Pre-Pandemic Levels
The new budget restores NSHE’s operating budget to pre-pandemic levels and sets aside $5 million to pay for a study of the higher education funding formula. Part of the study will required increased transparency and accountability for higher education institutions. It’s been more than a decade since this formula was updated.
The new budget will invest $75 million for the state’s Millennium Scholarship program, $65 million in deferred maintenance for aging buildings, $20 million more in graduate student stipends, $9 million to build-up the faculty at UNLV Medical School, and $6 million to support Promise Scholarships for Nevada high school students attending community colleges in Nevada.
Create Office of Workforce
Governor Lombardo is proposing to create the Office of Workforce to develop and executive an integrated workforce plan and will oversee the 17 revenue streams sourced to the Workforce Investment and Opportunity act.
The new budget proposes a two-grade increase in compensation for all public safety employees above what is recommended. The budget also includes a $17 million funding to expand six community behavioral health centers across the state in underserved areas including northern and rural Nevada.
The budget also includes funding to convert a portion of the City of Las Vegas jail into a forensic hospital.
Increase Compensation for State Employees
Nevada’s government has a state job vacancy rate above 20%. This month, Governor Lombardo issued an executive order requiring all state employees to return to pre-pandemic office hours by July 1st. The new budget includes an 8% increase for all state workers next year and an additional 4% increase the year after. In addition, each executive branch state employee will receive a $2,000 annual bonuses, to be paid quarterly.
“…and I’m asking the legislature to pass a supplemental appropriation as one of its first bills, to fund these bonuses, starting at the end of March,” said Governor Lombardo.
Tesla’s New $3.5 Billion Investment in Nevada
Tesla announced a new $3.5 billion investment to build two advanced manufacturing facilities in northern Nevada for the company’s all-electric semi-trucks. This site is located less than an hour from Lake Tahoe.
Nevada’s Energy Policy
Due to increasing electricity consumption, Californian does not have enough electric generation within its own estate to meet its needs and is now relying on the western electric market to import energy. California is changing its transmission rules, and Nevada has no choice but to reduce our reliance on the market and seeks energy independence.
Water and Public Lands
The Lake Mead is at its lowest level since 1937. Water will be the greatest challenge we face in the next decade in Southern Nevada. Another challenge we are facing is the lack of public lands available. Currently, BLM has jurisdiction of over 48 million acres in Nevada. The lack of developable, public lands available creates barriers for economic development and building affordable housing.