Dear UNLV-NFA members (and other interested faculty and staff):
Things are happening fast on many different levels so this update is a bit disjointed but contains a good bit of information. Most of this has been posted already on unlvfaculty.blogspot.com and/or the nevadafacultyalliance.org/blog and.or facebook.com/NevadaFaculty -- so please do consult those resources, which are updated just about every day, to keep up with the latest news. That said, here is what has happened in the past week:
1. At the state legislature, the joint budget committees had a work session on the NSHE budget Saturday, at which the System's proposal for a compromise budget alternative was discussed. This alternative calls for an additional $60 million for NSHE over the biennium over the Governor's proposed revised budget, which would amount to about $16 million for UNLV per year over the original Sandoval proposal. This is a compromise proposal that would also include hefty fee increases of 13% per year for students and a 10% cut in state support. At this hearing, a proposal was made by Senator Horsford to increase NSHE funding by $20m without any tax increase by applying to all counties the redirection of county property tax transfers which the Governor proposed for only Washoe and Clark counties. This proposal was not adopted, which led the majority to vote to remove the Clark and Washoe county property tax transfers provisionally from the NSHE budget. This leaves an as-yet unresolved hole of between $144m and $265 in the NHSE budget, which is scheduled to be closed next Wednesday the 18th.
Between now and next Wednesday it is crucial that we all seek to contact our representatives (especially those on the budget committees in the Assembly and the Senate) those to urge them to put aside regional and partisan differences and support the System's compromise proposal which asks for the state to match the sacrifice of students and faculty/staff.
2. A second major development in the state legislature was the proposal for a new revenue package introduced by the Democratic leadership. This proposal, on which hearings will begin tomorrow, is also a compromise proposal, intended to provide a more stable, more broad-based and more fair basis for state revenues. Again it is important that faculty, who have a direct stake in this discussion, communicate to key legislators and media outlets on behalf of rational compromise over ideology and partisanship.
3. Earlier this week these same budget committees took actions that were long expected, to approve salary cuts and health coverage cuts for all faculty and staff. In the case of the salary cuts, the expected 5% cut was marginally reduced to a 4.8% cut with only 2.5% being reduced from base pay and the rest in the form of unpaid furlough days which will not reduce base pay or retirement contributions. This pay cut will be applied to all faculty and staff for both years of the biennium (though it is not yet certain whether faculty will qualify for the furlough portion of the cut or have the entire 4.8% cut applied to base pay). Merit pay was suspended for another two years.
4. At the System level, the controversial proposal by a System Task Force to amend the code articles concerning exigency and program review were tabled and will not be presented to the Board this spring, pending further discussion by faculty Senates and campus presidents in the fall.
5. On campus, the revised plan for $18m in cuts to academic affairs was announced with limited detail, subject again to revision once we have a final budget. As a step towards meeting whatever cut we finally have to absorb, the administration announced a buy-out offer for tenured faculty.
6. Finally, all NFA members should have received an electronic ballot for the state board elections. If you did not receive a ballot via email please contact UNLV chapter president-elect John Farley and/or out-going state president Scott Huber. If you have any questions about the election or candidates you may also write to firstname.lastname@example.org. The balloting remains open only until next Monday May 16 at 5pm so please do vote to ensure UNLV NFA members' voices are heard at the state board level for the coming year.
Professor, Department of History, UNLV