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Sandoval’s Budget: More Cannabis Dollars to Fund Education

By Bob Conrad
Nevada cannabis.

Outgoing Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval wants to move a percentage of marijuana tax dollars to fund education-related programs. School safety and the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship were noted to receive additional money. Most cannabis revenue goes into the state’s rainy day fund.

“Compared to no balance in 2011, (the rainy day fund) has approximately $233 million,” Sandoval said.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

The rainy day fund receives about $4.2 million each month from 10 percent of retail taxes. Sandoval is recommending that amount, about $50 million each year, go from the rainy day fund into school safety efforts and a projected shortfall in the Guinn Scholarship account.

Remaining cannabis tax dollars go into the state’s distributive school account, a fund for local governments and to state government administration.

Cannabis consumption in Nevada has consistently produced better-than-expected revenues, and the state’s general fund is expected to be about $8.8 billion over the next biennium, up from $8.2 billion from the current biennium.

Cannabis consumption in Nevada has consistently produced better-than-expected revenues.

“More opportunities are ahead as the Silver State continues to diversify our economy, improve education outcomes, and provide affordable and quality health care, and I am confident our budget recommendations begin that process,” Sandoval added.

Incoming Governor Steve Sisolak can change Sandoval’s budget recommendations, as can the 2019 legislature, but the governor’s recommended budget historically is approved by the Nevada Legislature with some modifications.

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· The Economic Forum has forecast revenue of approximately $8.8 billion over the next biennium, up from approximately $8.2 billion for the current biennium.

· Included with the Economic Forum forecast, and as a result of better than forecasted revenue from the Commerce Tax/Modified Business Tax (MBT), and the Bank Branch Excise Tax; the MBT tax rates will be decreased effective July 1, 2019 from 1.475% to 1.378% for General Business category, and from 2.0% to 1.853% for the Financial/Mining category.

· Marijuana revenue for the Distributive School Account (DSA) (15% wholesale tax) and the Rainy Day Fund (10% retail tax) are performing better than forecasted.

· The Government Service Tax (GST), which produces approximately $20 million per year for the General Fund, is set to sunset at the end of FY19, and will be redirected as revenue in the Highway Fund along with the approximately $60 million per year of GST currently going into the Highway Fund.

· Strong ending fund balances for FY18 and FY19 have/will result in substantial transfers to the Rainy Day Fund (state’s saving account) and provide the opportunity for significant funding for one-time purchases and projects the State has previously deferred.


· Compared to no balance in 2011, currently has approximately $233 million.

· The marijuana 10% retail tax increases the Fund by approximately $4.2 million per month.

· The Rainy Day Fund balance is expected to be nearly $300 million at the end of calendar year 2018, once final fiscal year-end transfers are made.

· Governor Sandoval’s budget recommends the marijuana 10% retail tax of approximately $50 million per year – now directed into the Rainy Day Fund, be instead used to fund education-related programs, specifically to fund new school safety initiatives and to address a projected shortfall in the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship program (shortfall projected to be $31 million at the end of FY 21).


The Legislature will need to provide approximately $66.5 million in Supplemental Appropriations to support current biennium costs, including:

· $36.5 million for the Distributive School Account

· $14.5 million for the Medicaid program

· $9.6 million for Forestry fire suppression

· $160,000 for Water Resources/Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

· $142,000 for State Parks/Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

· $67,000 for the Governor’s Finance Office

· $65,000 for visiting Dignitary Protection

· $69,000 for Investigation Division/Nevada Highway Patrol

· $5.4 million for Corrections overtime shortfall


The Sandoval budget would include more than $134 million in one-shot purchases and projects, including:

· New Forestry helicopter (approximately $4.5 million)

· New Forestry firefighting equipment

· Department of Corrections replacement vehicles

· New Fleet Services vehicles

· Payment of $8.6 million to Washoe County School District for the online schools funding issue

· $42.5 million for the Governor’s Finance Office SMART 21 – Replacement of HR and Financial Systems – includes data clean up and interfaces between legacy systems

· Child Support Enforcement IT system replacement ($17 million)

· Child Welfare/Unity IT system enhancement ($437,000)

· Department of Corrections IT systems ($3.9 million)

· State Parks enhancements, including paving and self-pay kiosks at Ice Age Fossils State Park

· Budget system upgrades at the Governor’s Finance Office

· Nevada Criminal Justice information system upgrade



· Continued investment in education programs with accountability for results.

· DSA student enrollment growth is forecasted at approximately 1.3% per year costing $45 million in FY20 and $82 million in FY21.

· A 2% merit salary increase is included in the DSA for each year of the biennium totaling $55.7 million in FY20 and $112.6 million in FY21.

· Medical inflation (health insurance) of approximately 4% per year is included in the DSA totaling $10.6 million in FY20 and $22.4 million in FY21.

· Funding is included to continue new teacher incentives ($5.2 million per year), ZOOM/EL schools ($49.9 million per year). VICTORY schools ($25 million per year), and Nevada Ready 21 Tech Grants ($10 million per year).

· Full-day Kindergarten funding within Basic Support.

· The budget includes a near doubling of funding for the state to support a “weighted funding model” where ALL students in need of added support receive additional funding. Funding for this effort grows from $36 million per year to nearly $70 million per year. This investment will ensure that ALL schools with students performing within the bottom quartile will receive additional funding (approximately $1,200 per student) to provide targeted support.

· A new budget account (2698) is created to address recommendations from the School Safety Task Force created by Executive Order. Marijuana tax revenue (10%retail tax) is redirected from the Rainy Day Fund to this newly created school safety account. Total budget for the coming biennium would be approximately $76 million; and include funding to near double the number of school social/behavioral health workers, provide for additional resource officers (police) and fund physical infrastructure improvements.

· $22.4 million is recommended to increase funding for Read by Grade 3 learning strategists so all elementary schools have this resource.

· $35.6 million in General Funds is recommended to replace the loss of grant funding for Pre-K programs to ensure access to quality pre-school development programs.

· $2.3 million is added to continue Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program at current levels.


· Funding is included for student enrollment growth of approximately $22 million per year.

· The FY19 (current year) budget includes approximately $10 million for institution specific Capacity Building initiatives. The coming biennium budget includes additional funding to grow these projects further, totaling $18.2 million in FY20 and $22.45 million in FY21. All eight institutions have projects to build educational capacity.

· University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Medicine ramp-up costs require an additional $4.2 million in funding in FY20 and $10.1 million in FY21. This funding is on top of $10.6 million of Base Budget funding. The UNLV Medical Schools will have 240 enrolled students by FY21.

· Funding is included for summer school to increase options for degree completion, limited to specific STEM/CTE programs. $15.4 million is included for FY21 only.


The Sandoval 19-21 Budget funds the following existing scholarship programs:

· Shore up the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship Program with marijuana funding ($31 million) being redirected from the Rainy Day Fund

· Silver State Opportunity Grants ($5 million per year)

· Fund the Nevada Promise Scholarship program ($3.5 million)

· Re-establish the $20 million tax credit for the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program to supplement the existing tax credit program of $7 to $8 million per year.

· Fund the Teach Nevada program ($2.5 million per year)

· Fund the Nevada Institute on Teaching and Educator Preparation at UNLV ($2.5 million for the biennium)

· Continue funding for the Nevada Teach program at UNR ($300,000)


· The decreasing amount of Federal Matching Assistance Percentage (FMAP) will result in the need for a significant increase in the amount of State funding to operate current health care programs. Decreasing FMAPs will result in the need for additional State funding of approximately $41 million in FY20 and $73 million in FY21. The decreasing FMAPs are related to the Affordable Care Act implementation over the past five years (specifically the newly eligible population FMAP decreasing from 100% to 90% and CHIP programs losing the 23% FMAP bump) and the increase in Nevada’s per capita personal income which results in a decrease in FMAP.

· Caseload growth in the Medicaid program (roll-up and forecasted growth) result in the need for additional GF of approximately $47 million if FY20 and $60 million in FY21. Medicaid is serving approximately 660,000 Nevadans per month, and an additional 28,000 children covered by the CHIP/Nevada Check-up program.

· Mandatory rate increase in services such as prescriptions, hospice, federally qualified health centers, rural health centers, and Indian Health Services will result in the need of approximately $23 million in additional GF in FY20 and $47 million in FY21.

· Requested staff and programming with the Division of Child and Family Services related to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) result in the need for 97 new full-time employees phased in over the biennium, costing $3.7 million in FY20 and $7.9 million in FY21.

· Nearly $7 million in combined funding is included to address the Autism Treatment and Assistance Program (ATAP) waiting list projected to be 381 clients. Six additional staff are needed to help manage the workload.

· $3.7 million in combined funding is included to expand Elder Protective Services to a full Adult Protective Services program. Nine new positions are needed.

· The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange (SSHIX) budget includes enhancements of $5.7 million in FY20 and $5.2 million in FY21 to contract with GetInsured for an integrated online health insurance exchange; to allow Nevada to move off the federally facilitated exchange. Source of funding is premium fees.

· Nine new staff are included in the SSHIX budget for project management office, consumer assistance, quality assurance, marketing coordination, and more.


· $5.2 million of combined funding is provided for in the Parole and Probation (P&P) budget for increasing caseload supervision (27 new staff are requested). All together the P&P Division is requesting 31 new full-time employees.


· $5.5 Million for 52 new Correctional Officers to support medical and transportation posts.


· The Athletic Commission would be transferred from the Department of Business and Industry to the Governor’s Office for supervision/oversight, and reclassification of key personnel to be comparable to other regulatory division heads.

· Taxicab Authority will reduce staff by ten full-time employees, from 54 to 44, as a result of declining revenue and ridership, resulting in a $1.6 million revenue reduction over the biennium.


· PERS has announced the need for retirement contribution increases —

Regular Employer/Employee paid would increase from 14.5% to 15.25% each side (0.75% increase).

Police/Fire Employer/Employee paid would increase from 20.75% to 22% each side (1.25% increase).

Cost of the PERS increase to the General Fund is estimated at $36.8 million (includes DSA which is $21 million)


· Recommend either 2% per year or 3% one-time COLA for state and university employees, and employees of local school districts.

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