MONEY TREE: Nev. Senate Mulls More Cuts to Higher Education
By MICHELLE RINDELS and DEB WEINSTEIN, Associated Press
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Discussion surrounding college and education cuts remained gridlocked as legislators hashed out whether the university system should contemplate campus closures along with staff and program cutbacks.
The Senate and the Assembly reviewed several proposals aimed at tackling the $162 million in reductions Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed for the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Higher education officials said trying to meet the governor’s spending cuts without closing campuses would mean eliminating 2,313 courses and 46 academic degree programs in fiscal year 2012, a move that would reduce enrollment by more than 4,700 students.
Chancellor Daniel Klaich said such cuts would force the system to turn away students in greater numbers than the system has ever had to in the past.
The cuts-only proposal also includes raising tuition and fees by 13 percent for each year in the next biennium. For an in-state student, that would bring the annual cost to approximately $1,500 per year.
Klaich estimated that the fee and tuition increases will garner the state between $40 million and $50 million in revenue, and the amount depends on how many students may be alienated by the cost increase.
Klaich said shuttering or merging programs is a worst-case scenario, and that it would save the system just over $12 million.
He floated a third option that includes higher fees and tuition, reducing operating expenses and a degree of state support. The chancellor also asked that the current cuts be evenly distributed over the next two years so as to minimize the damage and create a smoother transition.
Klaich, along with members of the Chancellor’s Business Roundtable, cautioned the Senate about making cuts that are so deep they will make recovery difficult.
Philip Satre, chairman of the board of International Gaming Technology, said the business community benefits from a healthy, productive higher education system.
Many businesses, he said, “recognize that there may have to be a broad-based business tax that brings this back up to a level of support that sustains these universities, these community colleges on a going-forward basis.”
Sandoval has said he will veto any bills that include a tax increase. While Democrats control both houses of the Legislature, they do not have enough votes to override a veto and would need Republican buy-in to pass a tax.