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Nevada families sue over legislation that eliminated tax credits that fund scholarship program

Posted: 11:41 PM, Aug 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-16 08:40:29-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Hundreds of families who depend on education scholarships from a state program won't be getting the money they need.

Standing outside the Clark County Justice Center Thursday afternoon, several families who rely on the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program explained why they can't afford to lose it.

"If I don’t get that particular assistance. I do know for a fact that she won’t be able to attend that school,” lamented parent Keysha Newell.

Newell's 7-year-old daughter is developmentally delayed, but has excelled at Innovation Academy.

"I do not want her to go backwards. I want her to continue to excel,” Newell said. “And I'm just so afraid that if she is not given this opportunity she will just go backwards. And that's a big fear of mine."

Attorney Joshua House said Bill AB 458, passed by the legislature to raise money for the general fund, eliminated the tax credits to donors that pay for the scholarship. He said its passage violated the Nevada Constitution.

House works for The Institute for Justice. He is filing suit in Clark County District Court on behalf of mothers like Newell who depend on the scholarships to keep their kids in their chosen schools.

"If Nevada wants to boost revenues for the general fund, it needs a 2/3 majority vote,” said House. “And it can’t simply do it by removing tax credits from the scholarship program."

Flor Morency said her twins are in a better and safer school thanks to the program.

"His grades went up. My daughter's grades went up,” said Morency. “The education was great. Being in private school is so much better."

“And the fact is that wealthy families already have school choice,” House said. “This is a program to promote the choice of low-income families and the Nevada Legislature is taking away those choices with this bill.”

House said the suit asks the court to order that bill not go into effect and to restore the tax credits to fund the program. We reached out to the Department of Education and a spokesperson said he cannot comment on pending litigation.