- Associated Press - Saturday, June 3, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Republicans united in their support for Education Savings Accounts were splitting Saturday on how to handle the fallout after Democratic lawmakers eliminated the school voucher program from the state budget and swiftly passed the two-year spending plan.

Republican lawmakers all voted this week against three major budget bills that required only Democrats’ simple majority to pass to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

But a biennial tax bill in the Senate - necessary to cover Nevada’s bond obligations and finance a DMV, university building, updates at state mental health facilities and a long-awaited veterans home - required two-thirds’ approval and failed without Republican support.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson said his caucus will continue to stand against it.

The state treasurer’s 2017 bonding affordability report shows that that could blow a nearly $290 million hole in the budget over the next two years.

Roberson’s counterpart in the Assembly expressed concern with that approach.

Republican Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson compared the funding snafu to his experience leading Republicans to implement Sandoval’s massive tax increase for public education in 2015.

“I was willing to put my political career on the line, put my own life on the line,” Anderson said. “I don’t have any negotiating partners at this point that are willing to do that.”

He declined to comment further.

If Senate Bill 546 does not pass by the Legislature’s Monday night final deadline, the state will be forced to pay down debts from Nevada’s Bond Interest and Redemption Fund and the state’s rainy day fund. Financing would be pulled from the general fund, meaning potential cuts to government services, if those accounts do not cover the hundreds of millions of dollars in obligations.

With Democrats “permanently finished” discussing the ESA program, according to Senate Democrats spokesman Peter Koltak, a prolonged Republican political holdout could warrant a special session.

The termed-out Republican governor, a former legislator, told reporters repeatedly on Friday that he refuses to call a special session to finish legislative business this year.

Battle Born Progress organized a rally at the Legislature on Saturday to press lawmakers to pass SB546.

Vivian Leal drove from Reno to Carson City to participate. She urged legislators to fund the 96-bed Northern Nevada State Veterans’ Home that’s been in planning stages for over a decade, and protested what she called a potential hostage situation of other legislation that could result during a game of political chicken.

“We’re kind of here to say please, please don’t let this happen,” Leal said.

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