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April 23, 2014

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$1.4 billion school budget hinges on Guinn tax plan

The Clark County School Board got a first look Thursday at its proposed $1.4 billion budget for 2003-04 fiscal year, a draft built around the hope that Gov. Kenny Guinn's proposal for new and increased taxes win legislative approval.

If the governor's tax reform measures don't pass, that $1.4 billion budget will have to be trimmed by $110 million, Walt Rulffes, deputy superintendent of operations for the school district, said.

The budget doesn't include spending for new programs proposed by Guinn, such as $70 million earmarked for kindergarten programs for at-risk students, or $50 per student for textbooks, Rulffes said.

"Those are things we don't plan into the budget until we have the money in hand," Rulffes said. "The reality is if we don't get the funding, those extras aren't going to happen."

Overall the district faces up to $220 million in cuts over the biennium, Rulffes said. Several versions of the budget, with various levels of cuts, are being drafted for the school board's work session set for May 7, Rulffes said.

By law the district must submit a tentative budget to the state by April 15. How much money the district will receive from the state won't be known until the legislative session ends in June, Rulffes said. And if the tax reform debate carries into a special session -- a possibility raised by Guinn earlier this week -- the district's budget could be in flux until early summer, Rulffes said.

"We don't know what we're working with here in terms of funding," Rulffes said. "We can speculate, but until we have some hard numbers, it's difficult to say what, and how much, we'll need to cut."

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