It's the most common question we get on our Facebook page anytime we do a story about education and the budget: Where is the money from marijuana?
Many people don't understand and are upset over this issue and rightfully so. It's complicated, but Contact 13 Chief Investigative Reporter Darcy Spears found some answers.
"If it goes to the school district, I doubt the students or teachers are going to see any of it." That's what parent Rebecca Stricklin told us. Voters and parents like Rebecca feel they were misled, even outright lied to about the true impact of marijuana taxes for our schools.
We started following the money back in October of 2016.
"The message is the money is not trivial, but it's not going to solve any budget crisis. So if you think that this could be used to significantly change school funding--it's not that kind of money." That's what Colorado's Marijuana Czar Andrew Fieldman first told us early on.
A 15% wholesale tax on distributors was passed as part of question 2 to legalize recreational marijuana. "That money is going to education after paying for administrative costs," Senator Tick Segerblom said.
But that money really is just a drop in the bucket. Wholesale pot tax revenue for schools is projected to be $26 million in 2019. Overall state education funding is $1.6 billion.
For 2018 it amounted to 1.5% of the money in the distributive school account. It's projected to be 1.4% for 2019.
"We didn't see the large bump that everybody anticipated," according to former CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsy. CCSD's budget woes have been very apparent lately but Segerblom thinks he knows how to fix it.
"The 10% retail sales tax on marijuana that we also passed that the governor asked for is not all going to schools and that we certainly could correct."
Dividing up the pot
There's no way to track the tax money from dispensary to classroom. That's because the state's distributive school account is like a big pot of soup. Multiple sources of education funding make up the ingredients. That soup is then ladled out to all of Nevada's school districts in every county. Segerblom says that's a problem.
"A lot of these counties don't have marijuana, didn't want marijuana, and they shouldn't get the marijuana money."
Counties get funding at a set amount per pupil as approved by the legislature. Clark County gets $5,700 per student. Segerblom says that a 10% retail tax could increase that because what's made here, stays here.
"If we just took the marijuana money being generated and gave it to the Clark County school system, there wouldn't be a deficit. So, in one sense people are right--just give us the pot money and we'll be happy," Segerblom added.
Those who opposed legalization warned the impact of marijuana money on education was being overstated. Legislators will have a chance to turn the tide in the 2019 session.