CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gov. Brian Sandoval unveiled a $6.5 billion general fund budget proposal Wednesday that relies on extending taxes that would otherwise expire and diverting money from designated accounts to support basic state services.
About $649 million in the proposal comes from extending several taxes that would otherwise expire June 30. Combined with taking money from the state highway fund and a supplemental school account, along with continued prepayment of mining taxes, Sandoval's budget relies on $1.2 billion in extending taxes or diverting money to balance his budget.
Sandoval's spending plan is $342 million, or a little more than 5 percent, above existing budget levels. Administration officials briefly outlined the first-term Republican's plan to reporters before the governor's State of the State address Wednesday evening.
More than half of the spending increase would go to K-12 and higher education.
Sandoval is proposing K-12 spending of $2.46 billion in the upcoming biennium that begins July 1, an increase of $135 million over current spending. Nevada has some of the lowest graduation rates in the nation, and Sandoval has made education a priority for his administration.
He proposes increasing per-pupil support by 3.6 percent, to $5,567 in 2014, and 2.3 percent the following year to $5,697.
Sandoval's budget also includes $20 million to expand all-day kindergarten to more at-risk schools, and $14 million to target young students who are learning English as a second language. About 15 percent of Nevada students are English language learners.
For Nevada's universities and community colleges, the governor is proposing a $29 million increase, though full details were not immediately released. But Sandoval wants to increase support for the state's Millennium Scholarship program by $5 million, for a total of $20 million. He also wants $10 million for a Knowledge Fund — part of his economic development program two years ago to link academia with economic development that wasn't funded in 2011.
Nevada businesses would get a tax break under Sandoval's proposal to raise the exemption on payroll taxes from the first $62,500 in employee wages to $85,000. Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp said that equates to a $24 million tax break and would apply to another 2,700 employers.