Southern Nevada generates taxes but sees little in return

News 3 examines the divide between the north and south in a Special Report: The Civil War of the Silver State. This is part 1.

LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Southern Nevada money is footing the bill for projects in the north. The money is made here, but why doesn't it stay?

As Nevada's population exploded, so did our income and our needs. So why do so many people up north benefit from our dollars? It's an issue legislators promise to take up next session.

It's a complicated story when it comes to distributing dollars all over the state. But it comes down to simple math. 75 percent of Nevada's population lives in the south. 85 percent of the state's tax revenue comes from the south. But only 65 percent of that money comes back to us.

When legislators divide your money, Clark County residents get just over $700 per person in services. But people in the Washoe County, located up north, get almost $1700 in services each -- $892 per person more.

Where money for kids is concerned, legislators place Clark County students at the very bottom of spending. A staggering disparity between north and south ranging between Esmerelda School District spending at $38,284 per pupil per yearto Clark County at the very bottom of the range, spending $8,392 per pupil per year.

And here's where the numbers get huge: For transportation projects started in 2006 and completed this decade, Nevada lawmakers spent more than $1.35 billion. Only $475 million of that came back to southern Nevada road projects.

Senator Mark Manendo says people up north get too much from the south.

"You have folks that have a really good gig in the north," Manendo said. "They can receive from someone else. Someone else pays for it -- goods and services we funnel to them. It's a great deal! Only thing left for them to do for their constituents is to walk on water."

So if the south has more people, and makes more money. Why the money doesn't "go south?"

"Northern Nevadans don't recognize we're paying more of their bills than they do," Manendo said.

And legislators say that's about to change.

Tomorrow, News 3 will be digging deeper on those education numbers and how your kids would be better if these dollar disparities didn't exist. By week's end, you'll likely have a lot to talk to your legislators about.