Saturday, January 2, 2010

Letter from Gov. Gibbons makes clear his intent to force layoffs at UNLV

Governor Gibbons has sent another letter to state employees, though as best I can tell it was not sent to NSHE faculty and pro-staff.

Indeed, its not clear the Governor considers us state employees at all -- judging by the Governor's claim in the letter that "fewer than 100" state workers have been laid off, although we know that at least 99 NNRs were sent to UNLV pro-staff alone in the 2007-2008 fiscal year; these were people who were indeed separated between 2007 and 30 June 2009. To say nothing of the more than 350 full-time positions that have been eliminated or kept vacant at UNLV alone.

But the point to which we want to respond is the Governor's ominous, and misleading, statement that

K-12 education and the Nevada System of Higher Education receive over 54% of the state general fund budget. We all want to protect education as much as we can; however, we cannot continue to take virtually all of the budget cuts out of the remaining 46% of the state budget that funds the other state agencies. We must strike a balance to preserve as many jobs as possible, both in education and in state

The statement that "we cannot continue to take virtually all of the budget cuts from other state agencies" ignores his own state budget director's report, which shows that NSHE took a 24% cut in state general fund dollars in the 2009 session, far and away the deepest cut of any state agency.

The chart above -- from data on the front page of the most recent Alliance (PDF), shows quite clearly that Higher Education took not only steep cuts but the bulk of those cuts made in the four largest items in the state budget.

So to imply that the "other 46%" of the state budget took the bulk of the cuts, as he does in the letter, is simply disingenuous.

It is the case that cuts were taken from "other state agencies" if we are only speaking of "education" as K12. But if we are to consider NSHE, the numbers speak for themselves -- and the reality is that we've already had deeper cuts in our budgets and deeper layoffs than many other state agencies.

But for some reason, the Governor does not seem aware of this fact.

His letter is ominous because it makes clear that he intends to look for cuts, and layoffs, in "education" -- and he quite explicitly includes NSHE.

So if you're reading this, and you're a faculty member, pro-staff member or student, you know what is coming. The time to engage is now.

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