Monday, January 24, 2011

NFA response to Governor Sandoval's budget proposal

The proposed 22% cut in support for Higher Education and its faculty (17% operaring budget plus 5% pay cut). is not shared sacrifice. Its really more of a ritual sacrifice of our state's economic future on the alter of short-term ideology.

It is not fair to students and their families, or to faculty and their families, as it unduly burdens Nevada's Higher Education community with much more than its share of sacrifice. And it is not good for the state's future prosperity to reduce our already last-in-the-nation rate of college attendance by driving tuition and fees even higher, while reducing availability of courses and degree programs.

1. Its not shared sacrifice because it puts such a heavy burden on the students, faculty and staff of our Higher Education System. A reduction in state general fund support of 22% would require an increase of approximately 44% in student fees  to keep us at the 2009-2010 level -- that is, where we are after salary cuts, steep benefit cuts, program eliminations and layoffs.

And those increases would come on top of increases in student fees that have been already enacted and which will result in an increase of, on average, 48% for undergrads and 56% for grad students over a five year period.

For faculty and staff, another round of across-the-board cuts in pay and health care coverage and another round of program eliminations and layoffs would come on top of three years of such sacrifices we're already been making. This next round will certainly drive more of our best faculty, staff and students out of the state, weakening the quality and accessibility of higher education in the state.

2. Its economic suicide for the state to cut so deeply into our most important engine of economic diversification and future prosperity. We're already badly behind all other states in the portion of our population that has a college degree or which is enrolled for a college degree. This steep hike in fees and inevitable cuts in programs will make it unaffordable for a lot of those whom we need to be in college and bringing those skills and knowledge into our workforce in the near future. We risk losing an entire generation of our future leaders by driving them away or denying them the chance to develop.

3. Utah has brought significant diversity to its economy by investing millions in attracting top researchers in clusters to the University of. Utah and by increasing base funding as well to increase competitiveness for top faculty. Other low tax states including FL TX and LA have increased state support for higher ed during recession to ensure a competitive faculty for its future leaders.

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