Only four states spend less money on education relative to the size of the state’s economy than Nevada, a report released this month says.
Direct state spending on education as a proportion of gross state product was 2.8 percent in Nevada in 2016. Wyoming led the nation, spending an amount on education equivalent to 5.6 percent of its gross state product. The unweighted national average for all states was 3.5 percent.
The study titled “Adequacy and Fairness in School Finance Systems” also found Nevada ranked 40th in “Adequacy,” which measures state spending on districts relative to other states.
And Nevada ranked 47th in “Progressivity,” which measures how states weigh spending to account for students with disadvantages. For years education advocates in Nevada have called for readjusting the state’s “weighted funding formula.”
The study is the work of the Albert Shanker Institute and the Rutgers Graduate School of Education.
Nevada was the only state to rank in the bottom ten of each of the study’s three measurements, noted Education Nevada Now, which highlighted the study in a release.
“We’ve known Nevada falls behind in education funding, but it’s especially discouraging to see Nevada ranked towards the bottom in fiscal effort” said Amanda Morgan, legal director at Educate Nevada Now, referring to the spending relative gross state product.
“This means that despite how prosperous our state is, lawmakers choose not to use that wealth to support students. Even as we embark on a historic legislative session and see hundreds of bills being considered, it’s important to note that not one bill seeks to increase education funding,” Morgan said.
Lawmakers and Gov. Steve Sisolak have expressed commitments to reforming Nevada’s education funding formula. But Sisolak also took any new taxes or tax increases off the table before the session began, and advocates that acknowledge that any increased spending on education from this year’s legislative session will fall far short of the state’s needs.
“Changing our distribution without increasing the pie only lowers the bar for all of Nevada,” Morgan said.
In its release, Educate Nevada Now — a creation of the Rogers Foundation and one of the groups that spearheaded the lawsuit that effectively stopped Nevada’s school voucher program before it started — also expresses wariness about the uncertainty surrounding Nevada education funding in the current legislative session.
“We’re more than halfway into session with less than eight weeks left and the bill still hasn’t been introduced,” Morgan said. “This gives very little time to get appropriate stakeholder input on what is arguably the most important bill of the session and perhaps the decade.”