Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Governor offers Nevada's college students pennies

Governor Sandoval has submitted a revised budget based upon yesterdays' Economic Forum report which estimated state revenues nearly $250 million higher than previously projected -- and which include the additional $60m for health services primarily in rural Nevada announced last week.

Taken together, this amounts to an additional $330m in state investment for the coming biennium -- [update: the Governor claimed 4400 m total in his speech.] However, of that [$400 million] only about a nickel of each additional dollar is to be invested in higher education -- $20m. (And the reduction in estimated Clark and Washoe property taxes, earmarked for UNLV and UNR, is about $2m, so the net increase is only $18m for the entire biennium.) This, of course, would reduce the cut in state funding for the coming biennium to ...$144m.

That is, the Governor is leaving a hole of nearly $150m in the higher ed budget, which he apparently expects to be filled entirely by increased fees for students and by cutbacks in available programs, classes and essential academic services for those same students.

Given that Higher Education represents, even after all these cuts, nearly 15% of the state budget, this is not proportionate. Given that Higher Education has taken far and away the largest proportional cuts of any state agency over the past three years -- nearly 40% in state funding since 2007, according to LCB figures.

A budget is, it is often noted, a statement of priorities. Governor Sandoval has made clear his priorities do not include the future of Nevada. It is up to the state legislature now to show its priorities.

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