Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt unveiled his education “plan” yesterday, but he left a big question blank — how will he pay for his education agenda while cutting nearly $400 million every two years from Nevada’s schools?
Laxalt pledges to repeal the Commerce Tax, a levy on multi-million dollar corporations that provides nearly $400 million biannually to Nevada’s public schools. Yet he has failed to explain how he’ll “[keep] public education funding the way it is” and finance his new initiatives with a funding gap in the hundreds of millions. We think it’s pretty clear why Laxalt’s left out this important detail:
- Laxalt would have to raise taxes on working Nevadans to make up lost revenue from his corporate tax cut. Laxalt said “revenue increases” would help replace the existing education funding he seeks to cut. That level of increased revenue would require raising taxes on Nevada families to offset his corporate gift.
- Laxalt would have to cut some of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s education programs. In October 2017, Gov. Sandoval said, “Anyone supporting a repeal of the Commerce Tax must explain to Nevada’s children, families and businesses which education initiatives will be cut if it is eliminated.” Laxalt’s plan to slash hundreds of millions from education while keeping funding at existing levels doesn’t add up. He must explain which programs does he think aren’t important enough to keep.
- Laxalt lacks a basic understanding of education funding as part of the overall budget. First, Laxalt said the Commerce Tax is “less than one percent,” his next estimate was off by about 600 percent, and his latest is “2.3 percent.” Laxalt claims he’ll keep funding the same, but he doesn’t even know what that is.
We’re not the only ones with questions. Here’s what local news outlets have to say about Laxalt’s rollout:
Jon Ralston on KNPR: “But how’s he going to pay for all of that if he’s gonna erase $400 million in revenue? He says maybe the pot tax money but that doesn’t come close to replacing it. Or economic growth.”
The Nevada Independent: “But the overarching question about his education platform has been this: How does Laxalt plan to pull off maintaining Sandoval’s reforms and current funding levels while also implementing his own ideas without relying on the Commerce Tax revenue?”
Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Laxalt’s plan promises that Nevada ‘will never go backwards from our current levels of education spending,’ but several of his proposals would require either additional money or cuts from other areas in the education budget.”
KLAS 8 News Now: “This plan will cost a chunk of additional money, so Laxalt was asked if he would keep Sandoval’s commerce tax, which provides a funding boost for education or if he will scrap it….[Laxalt’s response] leaves it open-ended.”
Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Helen Kalla released the following statement:
“Laxalt apparently thinks money grows on trees. His failure to understand that cutting hundreds of millions from Nevada’s schools would devastate students and teachers is astonishing. Nevada families know better than to rely on Laxalt’s empty promises and reckless agenda, which is why they’ll vote to keep him out of the governor’s mansion.”