This week saw the beginning of the 120-day legislative session that will make or break higher ed in Nevada. The budget submitted by the governor would devastate NSHE institutions, forcing the closure of many programs, even possibly some campuses and colleges within campuses. It would also result in terminations for many faculty and staff, as well as the loss of educational opportunities for Nevada citizens. And the irony of the governor calling for more contribution from higher ed to economic diversification, while proposing a 29-percent cut in General Fund support, has not been lost on anyone, except, apparently, the governor.
Other representatives from NFA's Government Relations team and I will be in Carson City nearly every day of the session, attempting to meet the many new legislators and educate them on the issues facing NSHE because of the proposed budget. Indeed, I have already been doing so, mostly via email, but also was in Carson City three days recently during the budget preview to the money committees.
Two NSHE budget hearings have already been set. They will be March 3rd and March 22nd, both in the morning, probably starting at 8 a.m., and they should be available online. The two hearings will be joint meetings of the two education subcommittees that have been established by Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means.
Members of the two subcommittees include, for Senate Finance, Steven Horsford, chair, Mo Denis, Barbara Cegavske and Ben Kieckhefer; and for Ways and Means, Debbie Smith, Chair, Markus Conklin, John Oceguera, April Mastroluca, Paul Aizley, Tom Grady and Pay Hickey. These thirteen people will be crucial to decisions made about higher ed funding this session. They need to hear our voices, and the voices of our students.
NFA will be working with the NSHE lobby team, focusing most attention on the very problematic budget proposals from the governor. I will also be attending to issues concerning our health insurance and the PEBP program, which is also in great difficulty concerning funding as well. As your lobbyist, I will be alert to any other issues that arise which might affect higher education in Nevada and NSHE faculty.
NFA’s Alliance newspaper
is coming out this week, and it will be of value in informing people throughout the State about the very serious problems posed by the budget proposals. (The Alliance is distributed to all faculty, and also to all politicians and journalists who cover the Legislature.) Please read the budget-related stories carefully, so you are fully informed. As noted in last week's Alliance Update, we have developed some new methods for circulating information quickly online; this report is but one example. Please make use of them.
At various points during the legislative session NFA will be calling on its members and others to communicate to key legislators. We will be furnishing information about how to do that effectively and efficiently. Please attend to these calls for your participation, and help us make progress during what will be a very trying session.