Nevada’s governor sent a warning to lawmakers who blocked school choice by vowing to campaign against them.
“I’ll do everything in my power to prevent them from being successful” in blocking school choice, Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo said in an interview Tuesday with radio host Kevin Wall.
Education is the “crux” of his platform, Lombardo said.
He added that Nevada is near the bottom among states on education, and he wants to “change that paradigm” over the next three years of his term.
Specifically, he says, he wants to offer more school choice and early pre-K education, as well as provide more accounability for what is taught in public schools.
“I agree with you that polling for school choice is unbelievable, it’s off the chart,” Wall told the governor. “Will you campaign against Democrats who stood in the way of school choice?”
“That was a very detrimental decision by them,” Lombardo said, before answering in the affirmative, that he would campaign against lawmakers who are anti-school choice.
Since Lombardo became governor in January, he has been advocating for school choice initiatives, including increasing funding for the state’s sole school choice scholarship program, Opportunity Scholarships that are available for households at or below 300% of federal poverty guidelines.
During the legislative session, he proposed increasing the maximum income limit from 300% to 500% of the federal poverty level, and he also proposed providing record funding of $50 million for the program. The Democrats blocked the proposals.
In May, Lombardo met with students at Mountain View Christian School and heard from families about how the school choice program benefits them.
However, in July, it was announced that hundreds of students would be expected to lose their school choice scholarships due to funding shortfalls, and Lombardo’s Chief of Staff, Ben Kieckhefer, blamed the Democratic lawmakers.
Lombardo then announced a plan to save the Opportunity Scholarships by requesting the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee (IFC) to provide $3.2 million in unallocated COVID-19 dollars for the scholarships. But that, too, was shot down by Democratic lawmakers.
Several days after Lombardo’s request was rejected, the AAA Scholarship Foundation said it would use its reserve funds to make sure that students do not lose access to their scholarships this school year.
“Our fight continues,” Lombardo said in a statement after the IFC voted against his request.
The Lion reached out to Lombardo’s office for comment but did not receive a response before publication.