Monday, February 1, 2010

Gibbons: pay cuts for faculty "more than 6%" but still no plan

According to today's LV Sun, Gov Gibbons will seek further pay cuts from all state public service workers to balance the budget, and he specified higher ed faculty as a target of cuts, which he said would be not "much more than 6%." At least thats better than the 30% cut his staff was talking about last week.

The problem with talking only about pay cuts is that it ignores several factors -- first and foremost, where will the money be used? Will it be used to keep programs opens, classes for students and staff positions on our campuses? Or diverted to other agencies?

Secondly, it ignores that the Governor could help the state handle the current crisis by more effective cash flow management; instead the Governor refuses to do what any ordinary business or household would do in a shortage and draw on its line of credit. There's no doubt that if he inflicts steep pay cuts on faculty and staff, a lot of us will be putting necessary expenses on credit cards -- and planning for how to pay them off. Businesses, such as MGM, do the same thing all the time. So should the state.

Finally, even without considering the much-needed look at our lack of a stable revenue structure in this state, there are sources of revenue that can be considered to help keep Higher Education from effectively shutting out so many students -- such as the Jobs for Main Street Act, which the House passed in December and is awaiting Senate action; it includes $23 billion in additional education stimulus funds, which the current version of the bill leaves to Governors to allocate. If the bill passes in this form, Governor Gibbons could, and should, recognize that Higher Ed took a 25% cut in state general fund revenues in the June 2009 budget, while other parts of the education budget were increased. That should influence how this new round of stimulus funding is distributed.

What we need is a plan that combines all these efforts to see us through this crisis, so the state's higher education faculty can be preserved intact. Without it, there will be little to no hope for future economic development in this state. (So sayeth Jeremy Aguero, whose speech this week to no less than the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce was summarized by the Sun as
Nevada has not adequately funded education, and as a result, the workforce doesn’t have all the skills that many businesses can find in other states.

Lets hope we begin to see a plan for the future from the Finance Committee Thursday.

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