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  • 19 May 2011 2:08 PM | Deleted user
    The closing of the budget for the Nevada System of Higher Education by the joint budget committees in the state legislature yesterday turned out to be a partial closing, with much decided, and one major issue left hanging – how the state will generate the revenue it needs to fund this essential investment in higher education.

    Generally NSHE fared well with the decisions, with $100 million in General Fund dollars added back to NSHE budgets. This includes the $20 million recommended by the Governor. These funds would be distributed using the proportional distribution figures included in the Governor’s budget, which means the funds would be allocated following a flat enrollment assumption that relies on current base budget figures. There were a couple of additional small increases as equity adjustments: $1.5 million to CSN and $600,000-plus to TMCC. (This is on top of the $100 million, and came from a major correction concerning funds for health coverage part-time faculty, mainly in the Medical School.)

    Legislators approved a key part of NSHE's four-point plan, its request to “smooth” the budget cut over two years. This will have the effect of leaving the base budget at the end of the second year about $35 million higher for the System than what the governor originally  proposed. One major change from NSHE's proposal was the rejection of a second-year, 13-percent tuition and fee increase. This decision will force NSHE institutions to find an extra $22 million the second year of the biennium – funds that will apparently have to come from capitol improvement funds on campuses or some other source. A decision was made to allow retention of 100 percent of the tuition and fee increases to count toward the general fund allocation for NSHE.

    The committees voted to suspend the funding formulas for the next biennium again, and also to have another interim study to revamp the current formulas. Chancellor Klaich pledged to send the committee a copy of the internal study that the System recently conducted. A vote was taken to consolidate a number of accounts into the two universities' instructional accounts, and the main System Administration account. This means that the regents and institutional administrations will be able to mange available funding better, and it takes the Legislature out of some specific funding decisions. The committees also approved allowing movement of funds among those remaining budget accounts, with the approval of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.

    New space that has been completed recently on the campuses was added to that included in the formulas for O&M, which was a good result. And the transfer of the Fire Science Academy to the Military was approved, with implications of some funding for UNR when this is finalized by Congress.

    Thursday morning, Senator Hosrford clarified that the nearly $120 million of the proposed property tax transfer from the two large counties to the two universities, which the Governor had proposed, would be replaced with state general fund dollars, in the version of the budget that goes to the floor of the Assembly and then the Senate to be voted on.
  • 16 May 2011 8:43 AM | Anonymous
    Editor's note: On May 13, the NFA's Elliott Parker, of University of Nevada, Reno, made the following statement before the Senate Committee on Revenue in support of SB491, the revenue reform bill.

    I came to Nevada from the University of Washington 19 years ago, and have become a proud transplant Nevadan. One thing I always appreciated about Nevada was the non-ideological pragmatism of its state government. The state motto is Omnia Pro Patria, to give all for the state. I thought you could vote for the person, not the party, since legislators and the Governor worked together for the best interest of the state.

    Lately, I must admit to being disappointed. We have become infected by the national infection of excess partisanship. The motto seems to have been misread by many people, as Omnia Pro PARTY.

    I am here to speak about the Margin Tax, but first want to discuss the context.

    All governments need tax revenue. Those without state revenue don’t turn into a capitalist paradise, they turn into Somalia. It is no accident that Nevada is always mentioned alongside Mississippi and West Virginia.

    Most taxes have negative consequences, but you have to consider also what those taxes are used to fund. All government agencies need to be well managed, to make sure they spend these tax revenues wisely, and there are certainly reforms we should be looking at to do that. Always.

    But nonetheless, in general, what the state spends money on has both positive short-term and long-term effects that outweigh the negative effects of taxes.

    In the long-term, the state provides public goods that benefit the economy. The state builds roads and schools, maintains law and order, provides an education and a public university to create a better educated workforce, and provides social services – since intervention generally costs less than crime and prison, and some people cannot fully take care of themselves.

    Public education in particular is what creates an economic climate that attracts business. Good universities really matter. It is no accident that we are losing ground as a state to other states, and losing ground as a nation to other nations that are investing heavily in public education, while we dis-invest. How can we attract new firms to Nevada if they don’t trust us to educate their children, or to provide them an educated workforce? What kind of companies would come to Nevada otherwise?
    In the short-term, both taxes and spending affect spending. Yes, raising taxes can reduce what people have to spend on goods from the private sector, but cutting state expenditures can reduce it even more.

    My own research finds that even when you consider the negative effects of taxes, cutting public spending in a recession hurts the private sector more than a comparable tax increase. When the economy is booming, this is not a problem. But in a recession, cutting public expenditures affects private incomes, hurting the private sector even more.  People who lose their jobs no longer pay rent, a mortgage, eat out, et cetera.  We enter a downward spiral.

    My estimates are that cutting state and local government expenditures by 10 percent, in a recession like the present one, could reduce Gross State Product by as much as 5 percent relative to where we could have been. We are bleeding the patient, and wonder why he is not recovering.

    I heard a speaker recently arguing against these taxes, but I think he works for a major construction company. As a thought experiment, how would his testimony differ if he was told the state would no longer fund road construction or repair? We cannot be NIMBYs. We can’t count on always exporting our taxes to other people. We need to find taxes that we all pay, to provide what we need to provide for the good of the state.

    As Bill Raggio keeps saying, first figure out what we need to provide, then find the revenues to provide it. Why are we doing this backwards?

    Recessions are hard on states without mechanisms for significant savings. Revenues drop, needs rise, and in a long recession like this – the Nevada depression – all the state’s resources are slowly drained. But Nevada also has a structural problem that goes beyond this recession, and we never fixed it when times were good. Now that times are bad, we must fix it.

    For many decades, we have been overly dependent on a narrow tax base. Gaming is no longer a Nevada monopoly, and as a share of our revenue it has been in long-run decline. The gaming tax rate may be low compared to other states, but we are so overbuilt and have so many casinos on the edge that we cannot afford to raise that tax again.

    We also have a sales and use tax with many, many exemptions. We implemented this tax when gaming was dominant, and when other services were not such a significant part of our economy. It is also at a relatively high rate, when you add in all the county and city components. We need to end many of those those exclusions, and we should also reduce that rate.

    But we first need to replace the revenue we have lost, and build back up our reserves before we do so. We need to create a broad-based tax, with a more stable source of revenue, that better reflects our economy. Low rates applied to many things are better than high rates applied to a few things.

    No tax is perfect, but some are less imperfect than others.

    The current Modified Business Tax applies to payroll, not other expenses, and exempts many types of businesses, big and small. While the rate is not burdensome, and the sunsetting increase from the last session was not a big deal, nonetheless we might not want to have a tax that increases the relative cost of labor.

    Now, regarding the business margin tax.

    Relative to a profits tax, which the vast majority of states have, it is a more stable source of revenue that would not decline as much in a recession. Anyway, some think a profits tax may be constitutionally difficult as a tax on income. I disagree, but I am an economist, not a lawyer.

    It does not apply to firms with revenues of less than $1,000,000, so it won’t be a burden on little Mom & Pop shops. It does apply to more than just corporations, however. I am not sure why sole proprietorships are specifically excluded, since most of them would already be excluded by the $1,000,000 threshold anyway.

    The rate is low, at 0.8 percent. That is a good thing in theory, though I worry that it won’t provide enough revenue. Some worry that this is the camel’s nose under the tent, but I would remind everybody that NRS limits general fund expenditures to the late 1970s amount, adjusted for population and inflation, so no tax can get too out of control. Anyway, that argument could be used against any tax, current or proposed.

    Relative to a gross receipts tax, it provides firms three alternative ways to reduce their tax. They can deduct a fixed share of 30%, they can deduct their total employee compensation, or they can deduct their cost of goods sold. As best I can tell from the bill, the definitions are reasonable. Thus, the administrative burden for the firm will not be less than the savings from using one of the alternative methods.

    Finally, I like the idea that this tax will replace the MBT after this biennium. It is not a perfect tax, but it is a better tax.

    In sum, we should not hide our head in the sand and pretend that our state revenues are adequate for our public needs. This recession has stripped away our ability to kick the can down the road. We need replacement revenues, and we need a better tax structure than the one we have now.

  • 11 May 2011 3:17 PM | Anonymous
    The NFA's Sondra Cosgrove, of CSN, filed this report from Carson City, Monday, May 9.

    The Joint Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted to accept the Public Employees Benefits Program changes. There was spirited debate over these changes, but without any extra funding, there were few alternatives available. Two issues received the most attention: southern HMO participants subsidizing northern HMO premiums, and the number of sacrifices public employees are being expected to shoulder.

    A number of committee members asked why the northern and southern HMO rates are being “blended.” The Executive Director of the PEBP Board stated that the Board felt it was an equity issue; that all employees should be treated equally. Assemblypersons Maggie Carlton and Marcus Conklin specifically rejected this argument and asked why participants are not paying only for the services they themselves receive.

    It was explained that the HMO contract is more in the north than in the south, so up to now northern HMO participants have paid a higher premium than southern participants. Under the PEBP Board changes, the southern premium will be going up more than is warranted under the southern contract to keep the northern premium from going up even more. Some of the southern legislators (not all) voted to not allow this blending, but they were unsuccessful.

    It was also noted that, in addition to these drastic changes to health, retirement, and life insurance costs, public employees also are being asked to accept a 5-percent salary reduction. Many committee members noted that this seemed to be a disproportionate share of the sacrifice, but without any other funding, nothing could be done to ameliorate this inequality.

    A motion to send a Letter of Intent to PEBP Board asking them to review this item failed on a close vote. However, the PEBP Board has a mechanism to offer some temporary relief if it has the funding to cover it.

    In addition, Governor Sandoval's plan to cut the health subsidy for part-time state workers – which would have affected higher education more than any other entity – failed in a close vote.
  • 09 May 2011 11:08 AM | Anonymous
    Candidates for office on the Nevada Faculty Alliance State Board of Directors have released their statements in advance of the election, which began today.

    The following is a list of offices and the candidates who are running for each:
    Please click on the active links above to read candidates' statements.

    Only NFA members can vote in the election. They can do so by registering a vote with NFA Secretary Mary Philips. Voting will end Monday, May 16, at 5 p.m. Winners will announced Tuesday, May 17.
  • 05 May 2011 10:59 AM | Anonymous
    Since the Economic Forum released its revised revenue projections on Monday, May 2, two plans have been released, a revised one by the Governor that focuses only on cuts to public services, and a new one by the Democratic majority that balances revenue reform with spending cuts.

    On Tuesday, the governor reiterated his commitment to cut the state's budget rather than raise taxes. He relied on the logic that, if we do nothing, the economy and our budget problems will fix themselves. On one hand, the governor touted our economic growth as a means to fill holes resulting from his proposed cuts; on the other hand, he said the economy is still too weak to reform our current boom-and-bust revenue structure.

    That is not what the Economic Forum heard from analysts who gave their testimony on Monday, nor is it what history tells us.

    What the Economic Forum actually heard from analysts was that gaming revenues will never return to their previous levels, because Asian gamblers can now go to Macau, and American gamblers can gamble in their own backyards due to the spread of gaming throughout the U.S.  (Moreover, as we learned from a story today from the Nevada News Bureau, gaming companies contribute more in Pennsylvania and several other states than they do to their home state of Nevada.)

    The Forum also heard that high paying constructions jobs will not return for a very long time, if at all, because the state is over-developed. It also heard that mining is making record profits due to gold selling at a record $1,500 an ounce. Barrick Mining is so profitable that is is able to bid on reserves in China at inflated rates – effectively moving Nevadan's treasure to China to secure its future profit rather than our state's future.

    We need a tax structure that recognizes this new reality. Today, one is being presented by the Democratic leadership in the legislature as part of a budget alternative. This plan still involves significant cuts to services such as higher education, but it is a balanced approach, combining necessary cutbacks with a fairer, more equitable revenue policy.

    Because it includes a plan to scale back the payroll tax, the Democratic alternative helps promote employment in the private sector, while providing the basis for adequate investment in our needed public services, such as higher education.

    It is a plan to step out of the boom-and-bust cycles of the past to secure a more stable and prosperous future for our state.  

    This plan delays the sunset provisions built into the 2009 revenue package – in effect, it is not a tax increase, but rather a decision not to cut taxes. Governor Sandoval’s assertion that not sunsetting the 2009 revenue enhancements is tantamount to raising taxes, and thus harming our chances for recovery, belies an important fact: Even with taxes at their 2009 levels, Nevada currently has one of the nation’s lowest overall tax rates, which has not lead to economic growth.

    We call on all legislators to put aside ideologies and political agendas and come to the table now to govern – to find a sensible, compromise solution based on the very realistic and pragmatic plan presented today. Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebellius called the Governor's "cut-our-way-out" plan "faith-based economics," not a realistic plan. The legislature now has a realistic plan before it to discuss, and it should do so.

    For higher education all of these issues are extremely important. Over the past 10 years, the Nevada System of Higher Education has grown exponentially, taxed its students by raising fees and taxed its employees by cutting their pay and benefits and increasing their workload. Yet all our efforts have only netted the System an extra $20 million under the Governor’s revised plan.

    All we have left to cut are faculty jobs, rural sites and centers, and whole institutions. If we lose any of these remaining assets, Nevada will no longer have a complete system of higher education. We will go back decades to a time when students struggled to find complete programs, at reasonable prices, in-state.  In other words, we’ve grown and cut all we can without causing the state long-term harm and doing further damage to our quest for economic diversification by eliminating the educational institutions and programs that smart business leaders want and need.

    At the Economic Forum meeting, more than one analyst cited the loss of public sector jobs as a potential drag on economic recovery. They noted that both increased visitor rates and increased spending by locals have to kick in before we’ll get out of this hole. But if you cut just as many public jobs as the private sector is creating, you end up with a net zero gain – especially in light of Nevada already having one of the lowest proportions of state workers to population of any state.

    And consider this in the bigger picture: If you decimate higher education to protect business, you will also end up with a net-zero gain. Indeed, you will lose, because the businesses we want the most to protect and attract will avoid the state at all costs.

  • 05 May 2011 10:20 AM | Anonymous
    Earlier this week, Governor Sandoval spoke about Nevada's state budget. Anyone with a stake in the future of our state should take a closer look at what he said – and didn't say – about investment in higher education. If you do, you will see that the governor does not take a balanced approach when it comes to education, and that higher ed is already shouldering much more than its share of the sacrifice.

    If we continue on the path the governor suggests, our state's colleges and universities will be decimated. Nobody wants that. The Nevada Faculty Alliance urges the governor to consider a truly balanced, alternative approach.

    The Speech

    In a speech on Tuesday, May 3, the governor defended his decision to allocate almost no additional investment in higher education. The budget proposals he had submitted earlier in the day would increase state investment in higher education by only $16 million statewide. (He recommended an additional $20 million to NSHE out of $271 million available due to Economic Forum projects, but the new Economic Forum property tax projections also resulted in a $4 million loss to what had already been proposed in his budget, so the proposed cut actually increased to about $166 million.)

    This leaves a hole of nearly $150 million in the higher education budget for the coming biennium, even after the anticipated across-the-board 5-percent pay cut and deep cut to health coverage for all faculty and staff. And this is on top of the huge budget cut already absorbed by Nevada System for Higher Education institutions this biennium.

    The governor anticipates this budget hole will be filled by student fee increases and cuts to academic programs (including many faculty layoffs). In other words, although he said “we cannot tax our way out and we cannot cut our way out,” that is precisely his plan for higher education: Tax our students (and their parents) further and cut their educational opportunities deeper.

    Effects of Budget Cuts Experienced and Proposed

    Let us remember:
    1. Student fees have already increased by nearly 50 percent on average over the past three years as a result of continuing the budget philosophy of his predecessor, Jim Gibbons.
    2. State support for NSHE has already been cut by more than 20 percent in actual dollars over the past three years, even before his proposal to cut another 29 percent in net governmental support for the coming biennium.
    This crisis for higher education has been going on for four years now:
    • Workloads have increased for faculty (who took on an additional 15 percent of students in the past biennium, with much of that increase coming from tenured faculty).
    • State spending in non-instructional areas has been rolled back by more than a third System-wide (and even more at the universities).
    • Low-yield and high-expense degree programs have been eliminated by the dozens (resulting in a large number of faculty layoffs including tenured faculty).
    • Defacto enrollment caps have been instituted at community colleges, denying access to thousands of students and workers seeking opportunities to develop new jobs skills.
    • Compensation for faculty and staff has been frozen since 2007; since 2009 it has been rolled back by 4.6 percent through furloughs for most employees. Pay will be rolled back further in the coming biennium. Due to an agreement by the faculty and Chancellor and approved by the Board, a state legislative pay cut for state workers for the future will be passed along fully to the entire faculty.
    • Health benefits for faculty and staff have been cut far below competitive levels and will be cut even more steeply in the coming years.
    • Dozens more degrees and programs would be cut from a state that already ranks 51st in the country in the ratio of degree programs offered to eligible population and which also ranks at the bottom for percentage of population attending college (a measure that census data  shows closely correlates to the ratio of degrees to population).
    • Literally one in eight faculty and staff at the universities would be laid off under the detailed budget plans submitted to the legislature. This includes an estimated 200 tenured faculty, a staggering figure that would ensure years of litigation and has already brought national opprobrium on our state’s higher education system.
    • These program cuts would displace 12,000 students per year statewide.
    Reforms Already in Place

    Among the many oddities of the governor's speech was that he focused most of his time on calling for “reforms” to education in lieu of adequate funding. Yet almost every single “reform” he called for is already standard operating procedure on our campuses:
    • Rigorous evaluation of individual faculty performance. Faculty at all levels and on all campuses are evaluated annually by peers and administration, and most instructional staff are on contracts that require annual renewal. Even tenured faculty can be removed after two successive years of poor performance evaluation.
    • Use of performance measures rather than seniority to promote, reward, or to make cuts. Our campuses every year undertake painstakingly careful reviews of faculty performance using dozens of measurable standards in order to determine which faculty to reward and promote. Seniority is not a measure used for determining where to cut (or promote) higher education faculty.
    • Periodic program reviews. Institutions conduct meticulously detailed internal and external reviews of our degree programs to determine how best to deploy resources to ensure educational opportunities. Programs are added when needed, but cut if they are not producing the desired results in terms of student graduations.
    • Curricular innovation. To take but one very current example, the UNLV faculty has been actively involved in a lengthy and detailed discussion of its undergraduate education program to improve how we train students and how we measure the results. To take another, only a few years ago the entire System aligned and articulated its curricula across the state.
    • Cost-efficiency reforms. The regents have recently approved a number of other reforms that will make NSHE institutions more efficient, including calling for a 120-credit limit for most undergraduate degrees, approving differential fees for high-cost, high-demand programs and other changes.

    It is no exaggeration to say that the System of Higher Education would be decimated once again (literally, cut by at least another one-tenth) under the Sandoval “tax our way, cut our way” approach to higher education.

    There is no short-term recovery from cuts of this magnitude. Once programs are terminated, they cannot be restarted; a good portion of those 12,000 students per year will likely leave the state to pursue their education and their careers, if they can afford to. Many others will simply be left out, losing a chance to improve their lives.

    Higher education is a good bargain for Nevada. The return on investment from each state dollar spent has been shown to be between $1.50 and $4, depending on the region and the year. This is a demonstrably higher return than is achieved in many areas of the private sector.

    The governor proposed in his speech that Nevada should “grow its way” out of the economic crisis. The System of Higher Education already has grown dramatically: Enrollments have risen steadily statewide and sharply at some institutions (despite the fee and tuition increases), and demand for enrollment has risen even more sharply. This demand cannot be met with the budget cuts being experienced and proposed. Revenues from areas other than the state – including research grants and contracts – have risen steadily over the past decade, demonstrating the entrepreneurial success of the faculty.

    The governor, however, would pull the platform out from this business success. His proposal for higher education is merely to cut our way out and to tax our students further. And his proposals can only curtail efforts to get more research grants as some of our best faculty leave for better opportunities elsewhere, which is occurring. Is this the way to diversify Nevada’s economy?

    Final Comment

    The Governor claimed a vision of a dynamic and forward-looking state, yet he completely overlooked in both his speech and his budget revisions to the most dynamic and forward-looking of our public services: higher education. His budget would cripple NSHE's efforts to offer educational opportunities to thousands of students, limit efforts to diversify Nevada’s economy and ruin the careers of hundreds of faculty and staff who have come to Nevada to make it a better place.

    We urge the governor to reconsider his position, and call on all citizens and legislators to join us in trying to help NSHE institutions survive, so that they can assist Nevada and Nevadans in building a better state for all of us.
  • 28 Apr 2011 8:57 AM | Anonymous
    Editor's note: This article by Jim Richardson, NFA Lobbyist, and and Gregory Brown, NFA Vice-President, originally ran in the NFA's print publication, The Alliance. For the full issue in which it appears, click here.

    We in the Nevada System of Higher Education were heartened recently to see the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce state in a letter that more revenues may be required to deal with the many needs of the State of Nevada, especially in the area of education.

    We are also heartened that, in its March 1 “reform agenda,” the Chamber endorsed a policy change that the System has long sought — allowing campuses to retain student tuition and fees. They also endorsed an end to the state’s antiquated “per-pupil funding system,” which has emphasized quantity of enrollment over quality of output.

    We appreciate as well that, in the 2011 update of its study of public sector compensation, the Chamber again found (as it had in 2009 and 2010) that Nevada higher education instructional faculty and staff are paid below the national average — and that the gap has widened since 2008.

    “[H]igher education instruction [is paid] 91 percent of the national average, a decline from last year’s 95 percent as the number of instructors fell from 3,600 in the prior year to 3,400 in 2009.... Nevada higher education instructional employees [rank] 34th in the nation, a drop from 30th in the nation in 2008."

    And with another round of across-the-board pay cuts of five percent all but certain in the coming biennial budget, Nevada is clearly losing its competitive position in the market for talented researchers and teachers. Thanks in part to the support of the Chamber, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Democratic leadership have jointly proposed economic diversification legislation (AB 499) for Nevada that would assign a prominent role to NSHE. (We are concerned that, so far, no funding source for the Knowledge Fund in AB 499 has been found, but are hopeful that additional revenues will be allocated for this effort.)

    Clearly, the Las Vegas Chamber gets it —Nevada should be supporting quality, affordable, higher education, not out of generosity but out of economic self interest.

    Grave Concerns about Tactics

    However, we have grave concern about the political strategy that the Chamber seems to be advocating in its letter — placing unrelated conditions on its support for a balanced, fair and stable revenue stream to support adequate public investment in NSHE institutions.

    From the Chamber's letter:
    Although it is not clear what the Legislative budget committees will recommend, our review has led us to believe that additional tax revenue may be necessary. However, let me be clear: The Chamber’s willingness to support additional tax revenue is absolutely dependent on the passage this year of significant and meaningful reforms that will fix systemic problems that are plaguing our state. Meaningful reform includes:
    • Fixing the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) to reduce the $10 billion unfunded liability and lowering the cost of providing this benefit [in the future]
    • Discontinuing the State Retiree Health Insurance Subsidy through the Public Employees Benefits Plan (PEBP) for new employees
    • Reforming the collective bargaining process and providing local governments with the flexibility they need to weather this
    • Transforming K-12 education to encourage and reward results
    • Retooling higher education
    This list of reforms demanded by the Chamber would hold higher education in Nevada hostage to reforms in areas that impact NSHE very little if at all, and over which NSHE has no control.
    1. Very few NSHE professional employees are in PERS. (Only people who are in PERS when they are hired may remain in PERS; that represents a very small percentage of professional employees. NSHE classified staff are in PERS.) The proposed change in access to PEBP retirement benefits for new hires will make it harder for NSHE to hire and retain faculty in the future. Moreover, the proposed change does nothing to reduce expenditures this biennium.
    2. NSHE employees are NOT covered by the local government collective bargaining statute, NRS 288.
    3. NSHE has virtually nothing to do with reforming K-12 education, except that several NSHE institutions are involved with teacher training — and are doing a very effective job.
    4. NSHE’s need for “retooling” is not detailed in the letter, so it is unclear what the Chamber wants. The implication that NSHE is not being involved in redefining its mission is patently false. This very general demand for “retooling” seems an excuse to include NSHE funding, never mind the collateral damage.
    The Chamber letter and report should have pointed out to readers that NSHE institutions have been hit much harder than any other area for which the state is financially responsible.

    State support for Nevada’s higher education system was cut over 20 percent for the current biennium, whereas many other areas saw much smaller cuts, or even increased funding. (See Table 1, source State Budget Office.)

    This same pattern is presented in the Sandoval budget for the next biennium, with NSHE slated for another huge cut in state support (another $162 million cut from current spending) — even if NSHE receives the controversial $121 million in revenues from the counties that is recommended by the governor. (See Table 2, source LCB Fiscal Staff.)

    Without the $121 million, the shortfall in government support for the next biennium would be an astounding $283 million compared with the level of funding this year. Budget cut plans submitted by NSHE institutions for the upcoming biennium demonstrate that, if the Sandoval budget is approved, more than 1,000 additional positions will be cut, along with many more degree programs and departments, affecting thousands more students.

    It is important to note the extent to which NSHE institutions, and particularly faculty, have already reduced expenses and streamlined academic programs in the past few years. During the last biennium, in response to the 20-percent reduction in
    state support, NSHE cut more than 700 faculty and staff positions around the state. Only last spring, in order to implement the 6.9-percent cut passed in the February 2010 special session, UNR and UNLV undertook a painful curricular review that resulted in the elimination of more than two dozen academic programs and the redeployment or lay-offs of more than 50 tenure-eligible and tenured faculty. Administrative expenses have been streamlined through a System-wide Efficiency and Effectiveness Task Force, student fees have been sharply increased, and other measures have been taken to reduce costs and further enhance flexibility in the coming biennium.

    Indeed, toward this end, NSHE faculty supported additional workloads for tenured faculty without compensation, while tenure-eligible faculty and all professional and classified staff took unpaid furloughs. Furthermore, the faculty supported an amendment to the NSHE Code that had been sought by the Chancellor and enacted last spring to pass through a legislatively mandated across-the-board pay cut up to 6 percent per annum. These represent considerable sacrifices by faculty, who, as already noted, are paid on average below the national median.

    Finally, there is significant ongoing curricular reform at all institutions and across the System to facilitate more rapid progress towards degrees.

    A Simple Request

    We therefore ask the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and similar groups not to stand by and allow the dismantling of a fine system of higher education as a political strategy that links NSHE funding to issues over which NSHE has no control and which do not impact NSHE.

    This approach seems misguided and would be destructive. Higher education in Nevada is being held hostage in a fight that we did not pick or want. If this strategy is pursued, the State of Nevada will be the loser — and the consequence will be a brain drain of unprecedented magnitude, as many more of our faculty give up on Nevada and leave for other opportunities.

    The state’s business community must not tolerate the dismantling and perhaps even the closing of institutions, devastating educational opportunities for thousands of students, and ruining the careers of countless educators who came here in good faith to help build a better Nevada.

    Now is the time for business leaders to join students, faculty, alumni and community members across the state — join people who have given voice to their concern about the future of Nevada and who have stood up to oppose an unbalanced, cuts-only approach to higher education.

    We ask the Las Vegas Chamber and other business groups to support a quality, affordable higher education system and to demand adequate funding for NSHE to help secure a more stable, prosperous future for the state.
  • 26 Apr 2011 9:58 PM | Deleted user

    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:



  • 18 Apr 2011 12:27 PM | Anonymous
    Milton Glick, University of Nevada, Reno President since August 2006, died suddenly on April 16 following a stroke. His death is a great loss for the university community, as well as his family and many friends across Nevada and the nation.

    “Milt was an outstanding leader and has left an indelible mark on the University of Nevada, Reno and the state,” said Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Klaich added that he appreciated “having had the honor of working closely with Milt, to learn from him and to be challenged by him."

    “Milt was a strong, extraordinarily respected leader, and that, combined with his enduring belief in the power of higher education, set the stage for a remarkable legacy,” wrote UNR Provost Marc Johnson in an announcement.

    Glick, 73, was UNR’s fifteenth president. He led the university through a period of unprecedented progress and growth, despite economic challenges. Under his leadership, UNR reached new heights of national stature for teaching and research. Last year, the university graduated its largest class ever, marking a 66-percent increase in the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded over 10 years.

    Glick's area was chemistry; he was a noted researcher in the field of X-ray crystallography. His work was funded for 15 consecutive years by the National Science Foundation, and he published 99 research articles during that time. He was nationally recognized as an academic leader, who envisioned the role of technology in higher education.

    Survived by his wife, Peggy, Glick also left two sons, their wives and three grandchildren. Plans for "a tribute to this great man” will be announced in the near future, Johnson said.

  • 18 Apr 2011 9:50 AM | Anonymous
    The Faculty Senate of Western Nevada College passed the following resolution in response to that campus administration's curricular review plan:
    Academic Faculty agree that the ultimate criteria for all decisions regarding WNC need to support the students, community, and programs of the college. The Academic Faculty Senate is in agreement that the goal of curricular review is to maintain academic integrity.

    After a careful review of the Curricular Review process and proposals, Academic Faculty Senate is deeply concerned that the process used to develop the original proposals did not use a collegial model. Given that the academic faculty were specifically charged with providing a response to the curricular review proposal, we are proposing that representatives from the academic faculty senate and the administration engage in a bilateral process to jointly revisit and finalize the scope and specific proposals of the curricular review.
    One faculty member provides the following analysis of the situation:
    "The curricular review plan was handed to us in a special meeting on April 4, two days after in-person notifications went out to affected faculty. The faculty senate was given one month to respond. After creating a subcommittee to consider our options, the full senate elected to take the high road and challenge both the plan and the process used to develop it.The curricular review plan was developed by the executive administration behind closed doors with no faculty input whatsoever. The proposed plan includes layoffs for seven faculty and at least one librarian in concert with eliminating and restructuring of academic programs(keep in mind we have only 65 faculty and librarians at this time). The other personnel losses via the plan are classified. One vice president is retiring and is to be replaced by a director (NOTE: The president wants to search the position immediately; we are resisting. The WNC faculty feel that searching a high-paying administrative position while laying off faculty is wrong). Otherwise, no executives or permanent administrators are proposed to be cut.

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