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School Choice Battle Brews in Carson City

Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Steve Yeager signals Democratic opposition to AB 400

By Megan Barth, April 28, 2023 2:22 pm

After a legislative hearing on Assembly Bill 400, Democrats and Republicans have taken their battle outside the halls of Carson City to social media over school choice and Opportunity Scholarships.

Assembly Bill 400 is Governor Lombardo’s Education Achievement, Opportunity and Investment Act, a companion to the Governor’s budget which includes a historic investment of $2 billion in K-12 education including $1.2 billion in new funding for teacher raises, supplemental supports, expanded instruction time, and wraparound services for students.

The main components of AB400 are School Choice, Early Childhood Literacy, Opportunity Scholarships, Accountability and Teacher Pipeline.

Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Steve Yeager signaled he is against the legislation, claiming that no one in his district asked for subsidies for private schools. He then amplified the far-left Battle Born Progress‘ tweet spreading misinformation that school vouchers were a “scam” and that the legislation was sending tax dollars to private schools. The funding is provided by expanding tax credits to businesses who choose to support school choice through Opportunity Scholarships.

Embracing the message of far-left activists, Assm. Yeagar is seemingly at odds with one of his largest contributors, the Clark County Education Association (CCEA) who contributed $100,000 in 2022 to his Nevada Strong PAC.

John Vellardita, Executive Director of the CCEA, voiced the union’s support of Governor Lombardo’s signature legislation:

The legislative Democratic pushback could be spurred by campaign donations, independent expenditures, and pressure from national opponents of school choice—namely the NEA. Their Nevada affiliates, the Nevada State Education Association and Washoe County Education Assocuation are opposed to AB400.

The Better Nevada PAC released a video highlighting that a majority of Nevadan’s support school choice.

Better PAC Nevada’s spokesman John Burke told The Globe: “Governor Lombardo has put forward a common sense education agenda that will empower students, teachers, and families across Nevada with new educational opportunities. Democrats in the state legislature who oppose AB 400 are standing against the will of Nevada voters, 70 percent of whom support this bill – including a majority of Democrats.”

In a Globe exclusive, the leadership arm of the Nevada Republican Assembly Caucus urged bipartisan support, noting that “polls show that two-thirds of Nevada parents are interested in sending their children to a school other than their local public school. Charter schools should be a choice for these parents too. A government monopoly on education is the way of the past, let’s model ourselves after other states that have successfully promoted school choice.”

Although the Governor’s Safer and Supportive Schools Act  passed off the Assembly Floor with the majority of Democrats voting with the Republicans in a 38-4 vote, the Democratic majority will now decide whether school choice is an option for lower income and middle class Nevadans.


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