Where is Gov. Sisolak On Education Funding, Affordable Housing And Campaign Finance?
There is not much time left in the Nevada Legislature's calendar and there is a lot left to get done, including the complicated task of changing the funding formula for schools.
Besides the work on policy, Carson City is still dealing with the fall out from two recent departures.
Within the last month, two top Democratic lawmakers are gone, one after admitting guilt to using campaign funds for personal use. Another quit amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Gov. Steve Sisolak reacted to both of those departures when he spoke to KNPR's State of Nevada Thursday morning.
"I'm obviously very, very disappointed in the Kelvin situation," Sisolak said of the departure of State Senator Kelvin Atkinson, who admitted misusing campaign funds. "People trust that when they make campaign contributions and they like folks that they're going to act appropriately and money is going to spent appropriately and when that doesn't happen I think it's a black eye not only for the former senator and all people in Carson City but the entire process and that's really disappointing."
"As it relates to Mr. Sprinkle, it's disgusting," the governor said in regards to former Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle who resigned after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced, "People should be able to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment and that's very, very offensive."
Sisolak said the one good thing about the situation with Sprinkle is that the system worked and people were able to come forward with their stories, be heard and have action taken.
There is a bill making its way through the Legislature that hopes to address campaign finances. Sisolak said he is watching the bill's progress and will make a decision on it when it reaches his desk.
The governor believes there needs to be more clarity about what is allowed and what isn't allowed when it comes to spending campaign money.
"Maybe a reclassification of some of these expense categories and make it clear that you can't take trips and pay for them with campaign money when you're taking your family on vacation," he said.
Sisolak said that a lot of these questions are common sense but there will always be people who go too far.
EDUCATION FUNDING FORMULA
Sisolak campaigned on the need to change the education funding formula, which has not been changed since the 60s.
Currently, the funding for school is based on location, not on the needs of the student. However, changing that formula is complicated. In fact, the governor said it was a lot more complicated than he even realized.
"It's important for me that the funding follow the student not follow the school," he said, "At the same time, there needs to be accountability for the money that we're putting into these schools."
In his budget, Sisolak added money for raises for teachers and he hopes to increase the school supply reimbursement for teachers from $100 to $180.
He said the price of education has gone up and so have the needs of students. When the funding formula was first created, there weren't has many students in the state, there weren't as many students who needed English language help and the need for special education wasn't there.
"Things have changed and we need to change with it," he said.
He is hopeful that lawmakers will make progress on the funding formula this legislative session.
With the growth in the state, especially in the Reno-Sparks area the price of homes and rent has skyrocketed.
Southern Nevada is also struggling with affordable housing.
Governor Sisolak said lawmakers have passed funding for tax credits for developers who build affordable housing.
"Hopefully, that will be a start," he said, "Will it be enough - no. But we need to do something. It is sad that this is the first generation, I believe, that isn't going to have the dream of homeownership if we don't do something about it."
Gov. Steve Sisolak