Sandoval wants to set aside money for ESA

LAS VEGAS - The state's Education Savings Account program remains on hold.

However, during his State of the State address Tuesday night, Governor Brian Sandoval made it clear; he's moving forward with allocating $60 million for the initiative.

ESA allows for public money to be used for a private grade school education.

The program has been controversial from the beginning and has divided the Nevada Legislature down party lines.

If state leaders can't agree on funding during the upcoming session, ESA may hit a dead end, leaving more than 8,500 families in limbo.

"I'm like super emotional about it," said Tiecha Ashcroft who applied for ESA.

She waits for the Nevada Education Savings Account program to become a reality after applying last spring.

"It's just so important to me that all children, every child in Nevada has the choice," she said.

A Nevada Supreme Court ruling is allowing the program to move forward, but only if it's properly funded.
Governor Brian Sandoval announced Tuesday night he has allocated $60 million in his proposed budget for ESA.

"We've heard from thousands of Nevada families about how crucial it is that we give them freedom of choice in the education of their children," Governor Sandoval said.

He admitted he will need bi-partisan support for the Republican-backed program. Both houses of the legislature are now controlled by Democrats.

"We believe that this is the wrong priority for Nevada's kids. It is not fair to Nevada's families to divert our limited resources towards private schools," said Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford.

In a video statement, Ford, a Democrat, disagreed with Governor Sandoval.
but is there room for negotiations?

"The issue for the governor is going to be this: If he wants the $60 million the Democratic majority in the legislature are going to say 'if you want this, we want that'. We don't know what 'that' is," said Michael Green, UNLV associate professor of history.

During his speech, Governor Sandoval did not discuss the funding source for ESA. But he will need more than just his party's support to get it done.

"Every child is so different and needs different things and not everybody's going thrive at a public school or charter school," Ashcroft said.

The state treasurer's office has received more than 8,500 applications. Open enrollment is underway, but funds are not being handed out, pending the outcome of the legislative session.

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