Session 2017 ends as the dust settles

The new UNLV medical school was given millions during the 2017 legislative session and is expected to be built by 2021. (Photo provided)

It began on Feb. 6 and ended last night.

120 days.

Over at the new UNLV medical school, they're walking away as winners.

“This was a great session for us,” says Dean Barbara Atkinson.

Atkinson got her full $53 million in funding and then some: $25 million more for a new school that will go in the Las Vegas Medical District, matched by a private $25 million mystery donation.

“This allows us to take it to architectural plans and so we'll have the whole thing ready then for groundbreaking and starting the big project to build it,” Atkinson tells News 3 about her facility, which is estimated to cost, in total, around $200 million.

The session adjourned right around midnight as lawmakers put to bed the governor's proposed $8 billion budget.

Around 35-percent of that will go to K-12 education.

Not included: education savings accounts, which would let parents use public money for private schools.

Democrats wouldn't budge and the governor wasn't willing to fight and sink the budget in the process.

“I'm hopeful that they'll be a continued effort to get ESA's passed. We'll continue to move on and make sure that every child in the state has the best quality education that they can get,” Sandoval told reporters Monday at the state Capitol.

“I thought the Governor would put his heart into it. That didn't happen,” says Nevada Treasurer, Republican Dan Schwartz, a big ESA supporter. “It leaves many hard-working middle-class families scrounging for a solution.”

The budget does include a $20 million infusion for the Opportunity Scholarships, which target low-income families.

As the sun set on the session, Nevada's solar industry got revived. Assembly Bill 405 restores generous rebates, known as net metering, for new solar customers, stopped by state regulators in 2015.

“We lost over 2,000 jobs in rooftop solar in the state of Nevada, and those are going to come back and then some with the legislation we passed in this legislature,” says Vinny Spotleson, with the Nevada Conservation League.

The legislation, expected to be signed by the governor soon, encouraged the solar company Sunrun to reenter Nevada. The company made the announcement today.

“The near unanimous bipartisan support for legislation to reinstate net metering and establish a bill of rights for solar customers is a reflection of overwhelming public demand for affordable, clean energy options,” says Lynn Jurich, Sunrun’s Co-Founder and CEO.

At Robert Beck’s Las Vegas house, he’s all about solar. The panels on his roof were doing their work under a hot afternoon sun.

“Today, so far, I generated 8.8-kilowatt hours so that's 8.8-kilowatt hours that I didn't but from the power company,” Beck told News 3.

Beck has had his solar system for a few years and will continue to pay older, grandfathered rates, so AB 405 won’t help him. Still, he’s pumped that solar is coming back.

“We're a really bright state here so we get a lot of sunlight, and that's a lot of power that we'll be able to get without having to burn fossil fuels and whatever else,” Beck says.

State workers will also walk away winners. The governor’s budget gives them 4-percent raises over two years, with correctional officers getting more. Before adjournment on Monday, lawmakers tacked on an additional one-percent, a way to show gratitude for employees who have gone without raises and endured furloughs when Nevada was limping through the Great Recession.

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