by Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Gov. Jim Gibbons said today he wants to see what strings are attached to the $82 million approved by Congress this week to hire teachers in Nevada before agreeing to accept the funds.
“What we want to do is study the requirements for taking that money,” he said. “I’m prepared to say ‘thank you’. I’m prepared to say ‘thank-you but no thank-you’.”
The funding would save 1,400 teaching jobs in Nevada this year.
But Gibbons said such appropriations typically require a “maintenance of effort” that means the state has to continue to support programs after the federal funding goes away. The funding for the teachers does include a maintenance of effort requirement.
Gibbons said the state may not be able to afford to comply with the maintenance of effort requirements, hence the review.
Gibbons said he would also prefer more flexibility with the funding. Some Nevada school districts might need a computer system or textbooks rather than staff, he said.
The law appropriating the funds is still being reviewed and once the state’s obligations are clear, Gibbons said he will make a decision on whether to accept the funding.
State budget Director Andrew Clinger said another issue is that the funding is for only one year.
“So what do you do with those teachers you hire for this school year,” he said. “Come a year from now you’ve got to lay them all off because you don’t have the funding to continue the positions?”
But Gibbons acknowledged that any funding that would keep 1,400 Nevadans working, even if only for one year, has to be given serious consideration.
Nevada leads the nation in unemployment with a rate of 14.2 percent in June.
While Gibbons has yet to commit to funding, the Nevada State Education Association welcomed the action by Congress and the President.
“We commend and thank our friends in Congress who stood firm on this issue which provides federal dollars to Nevada in order to save jobs,” said NSEA President Lynn Warne. “We look now to state legislative leaders to work in the same proactive manner in creating funding sources to strengthen K-12 public education in Nevada.”
Gibbons said he is also evaluating the nearly $80 million in Medicaid funding Nevada will receive from the legislation. The money was included in the budget approved by the Legislature for this year.
Gov. Gibbons says the federal funding may require a commitment the state can’t afford:
Gibbons said he is prepared to accept or reject the funding after his review: