Even before 2020, Las Vegas has had a problem with homelessness. Most metropolis areas with a high-cost of living carry a lot of low-wage jobs to facilitate the population. The recent rise in the cost of living, due to the last few years’ events, has enhanced the issue tenfold. Fortunately, the Clark County Commissioners have decided to use cannabis tax revenue to aid homelessness in Las Vegas. Along with the funds that were supposed to go to Clark County Public Schools, $2 million of the tax money is being distributed to three local nonprofits that assist those experiencing homelessness in the city. The organizations are Help of Southern Nevada, Lutheran Social Services, and HopeLink.
The money will be taken from the over $1 billion in cannabis sales from last year. This is drawing a bit of criticism as the Clark County school systems haven’t seen much funding from the original recreational cannabis laws that passed in 2016. When the market officially opened in 2017, school administrators were skeptical of how helpful the money would be. Today, most laugh off the topic as the state’s rainy-day fund swallowed up most of the funding leaving nothing for the struggling schools in the Las Vegas area.
CANNABIS AID RUNNING THIN
This is no doubt good news for the city. However, many see the potential red flags to come. When the recreational cannabis bill was originally written, it included language that would divert the tax revenue from all cannabis sales in the Clark Clark to the Public School District. After some amendments, unfortunately, the money was to be diverted into the state’s rainy-day fund and only given to the schools if their budget was deemed insufficient. There’s a misconception here, however; this is NOT additional funding added on to the $2.6 billion budget. Last year, schools received $159 million; but, when divided amongst the 500,000 students in public school, it’s about $300 per student. Altogether, we’re looking at about $5500 per student, per year. According to the national average, that’s less than half of the annual budget per pupil.
For obvious reasons, Clark County diverting the budget to something else -yet again- is cause for concern. At the moment, Las Vegas ranks 9th for the highest rate of homelessness. The city of Reno isn’t any better. The state began a crackdown on homelessness last year, charging many with misdemeanors for sitting, resting, or ‘lodging’ on the sidewalks. Hopefully, the county commissioners’ decision will help the issue. If not, hopefully, they will try to do more for the Clark County students.