Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sandoval budget to propose County funding for community colleges ...maybe

In an interview with Jon Ralston recorded last week (as reported by the [independent, but right-leaning] Nevada News Bureau), Governor Sandoval suggested that his budget plan, to be released later this month, would divert 9% of county property taxes from current uses (primarily K-12 education) to fund community colleges. In most other states, public support for community colleges comes from local rather than state government (hence the term "community college"), so this is not a new idea.

However, it is one that county governments and school districts can be expected to resist -- since that money would have to be cut from somewhere else in county or local school budgets, because county governments cannot raise taxes of their own volition.

But to make this picture murkier, Sandoval's comment, as reported, casts doubt on whether he intends the property tax money to fund community colleges or universities:

“The people of this state are paying approximately $20 billion and it’s all going into different buckets, and some buckets are better than others,” he said. “And we’re moving the money where it is most appropriate. There is no doubt about it that the university system is an economic engine in this state and that they provide a great benefit, UNLV and UNR, for the local communities. So we feel that it is appropriate for that property tax to go to the universities.”

Its prudent to reserve judgement on the budget plan until its released, but its not reassuring that in his first public statements on higher education, the state's chief executive refers to an entity that doesn't currently exist ("the university system") and seems to confuse community colleges and universities.

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