I would like to introduce myself, Kent Ervin, as the legislative liaison for the Nevada Faculty Alliance for the 2017 session of the Nevada legislature. I am a Professor in the Chemistry Department at UNR, starting here in 1990. For NFA, I will be following legislative issues and representing all faculty state-wide to the best of my ability. Here is a post-election update.
The Nevada Legislature experienced a blue wave in the election, changing the party leadership of both houses:
Nevada Senate 11-10 Democratic
Nevada Assembly 27-15 Democratic
The Democratic majorities mean equal pay and Lily Ledbetter bills and a strengthening of legal redress for employment and civil rights protections--bills that were quashed in the Assembly in 2015 after support for weakened versions in the Senate--will have a good chance of passing. A campus carry bill, which was opposed by NFA last session, is much less likely to be viable.
Regardless of party affiliations, however, support of higher education is not at the top of priority list for a majority of legislators, and there are old and new legislators who have an incomplete (to be kind) understanding of what university and college faculty do. Changing that is our major challenge.
What we hear about the Governor's budget, to be presented in January, is not encouraging. Estimates of projected budget deficit range from $400M to $800M, after accommodating case-load growth in Medicaid, K-12 education, and higher education. It is rumored that the Governor's budget is unlikely to include either COLA or merit/steps for state employees, in which case those would have to be added and funded later. Any tax increases would require a two-thirds majority, and it would be a huge surprise if the Governor proposes any. This means a difficult session for the budget.
We will carefully monitor Bill Draft Requests about reforming or restructuring NSHE.
At it's meeting on 11/17/2016, the PEBP Board will be considering benefits changes and cuts to meet the Governors request for flat and 5% lower budgets. This will be a big battle just to maintain what we have now.
The next big event to watch is the Economic Forum revenue projections in early December.
NFA members will receive periodic updates such as this during the legislative session. I appreciate all feedback. NFA will be seeking your input to your local legislators on issues of critical concern--hope you all will help.