Last Friday, the Senate and the Assembly both met as Committees of the Whole to hear detailed presentations on the NSHE budgets. Chancellor Dan Klaich proposed a compromise budget alternative that would restore roughly one-third of the $162 million in state investment that Governor Sandoval has proposed to cut from higher education – combined with shared sacrifice by students, who would pay 13-percent higher fees, and by faculty and staff, whose salary cuts and program eliminations (i.e., layoffs) would reduce operating expenses by an amount equal to the student fee increases.
Tonight, Monday April 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole met again to discuss both the K-12 and higher education budgets. CSN's Sondra Cosgrove reports on tonight's debate:
Majority Leader Steven Horsford asked senators to not only state whether they would support the Governor's recommended budget cuts to education, but to also go on record as supporting the effects of those cuts.
Instead of just asking who supported block grants for local school districts, Senator Horsford asked which senators supported forcing local school districts to decide which programs to keep and which to eliminate due to reduced funding. Senator Horsford didn't just ask who supported cutting funding to higher education, but which Senators supported laying off faculty, cutting classes and programs, and possibly closing sites and centers. At one point, Senator Horsford asked why pay and benefit cuts for public employees are acceptable, but tax increases are not. Senator Ben Kieckhefer stated that money lost due to pay or benefit cuts is not the same as money lost due to a tax being continued or raised. Senator Horsford strongly disagreed.
Republican senators stated that they wanted to see education reforms and the only way to get those reforms is to reduce funding. They stated that reduced funding would cause K-12 to fund and retain only the best programs and teachers, and cause higher ed to get rid of non-productive faculty, programs and campuses/sites. It was very evident that Republican senators believe that Nevada's education system can function, and even function better, with much less funding than is currently being provided.
Democratic senators argued that Nevada has never funded education adequately, and so to assume that all problems with the education systems are due to mismanagement and inefficient use of resources is not logical. They did not deny that reforms will be needed, but they asserted that starving the education systems is not the best way to achieve reform. Senator Horsford repeatedly stressed that Democrats are not asking for extra funding, just to not reduce funding below the 2009 education budget levels.
To express your views, call 1-800-995-9080; fax the Nevada Senate at 775-684-6522 or the Assembly at 1-775-684-8533; or send a toll-free fax to 1-866-543-9941.
To contact legislators directly, locate their email addresses here: