Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NFA update on response to Governor's proposed budget cuts

Dear UNLV NFA members,

Monday night, those who listened heard Governor Sandoval propose a budget that would include what we believe to be well over 20% for UNLV in the coming biennium as well as a 5% across-the-board pay cut for faculty and staff and the already-announced increase of 125% in health care deductibles (with a sharp premium increase to follow this spring).

Note that this level of cuts also anticipates a redirection of funds from Clark County property taxes to UNLV, which is a measure almost certainly to be challenged politically and legally by the County. His statement that it would be up to the Board of Regents to raise student fees to fill in this gap did not specify that it would require a fee increase of between 40 and 70% to cover this shortfall.

We will be reporting to you more fully on how we are already mobilizing in Carson and across the state to respond to this threat to the economic future of the state.

In the meantime please note first the response we posted on Monday evening to the UNLV Faculty Alliance blog and note as well that the Chronicle of Higher Education (sub req) reports that many states facing similar recessionary economies and budget shortfalls are responding by increasing funding to higher education as a vehicle to economic prosperity. This includes states with conservative republicans controlling the executive and/or legislative branches, including Kansas, Virginia and Louisiana. Nevada is facing a steep shortfall to be sure, but Nevada would be on its own if it follows the Governor's vision in considering higher education to be a cost center for the state to be cut rather than an engine of future revenue in which to invest.

Please plan to attend the UNLV townhall that will be held Friday at 9am and watch the legislative hearing on the Higher Education budget tomorrow in Carson City.

Please also plan to attend the legislative public hearing on the budget to be held this Saturday, jointly in Reno and in Las Vegas (at the Grant Sawyer building from 8:30am to 2pm.) We need a strong faculty presence here to present the argument that it is in the state's self interest to invest in higher education and its faculty and that Higher Education brings a return to the state of approximately 4 to 1 for every dollar invested.

Follow our Twitter feed and join our Facebook page. And watch your inbox later this week for the introduction of a new electronic communication tool from the NFA which we hope will enable us to mobilize members and project our point of view more fully into the public debate across the state.

Finally and equally importantly, please to attend a UNLV NFA chapter meeting to be held on campus (location tba) next Thursday, February 3, at which we will discuss our legislative priorities and our efforts to renew our state and campus organization to meet this challenge. If possible, please read the document circulated earlier this week which outlines this renewal plan.

And please forward this email to any interested faculty and let me know if you are available to help in any way. We need all to be involved in this effort to save higher education in southern Nevada and in so doing, to save quality of life and a future of greater prosperity for everyone in our region and our state.

In solidarity,

Gregory Brown
Professor, Department of History, UNLV

President, UNLV Faculty Alliance
Vice-President, Nevada Faculty Alliance
Co-chair, NFA PAC

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