CSN faculty and staff,
The legislative session ended last week. I would like to express my appreciation to all of you who wrote letters, made phone calls or attended and testified at legislative hearings on legislation, related to CSN. I’d encourage you to contact those same legislators again to express your appreciation for what was enacted. At this time, we are still working out a lot of the details with the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). The following is a brief overview of what we know on some of the major issues we updated you on throughout the session.
Furloughs and Pay
Lawmakers eliminated furloughs and gave all state employees an increase in salary. As of July 1, 2015, you will no longer have to take six unpaid days off each year and 2.3 percent of your salary will be restored as a result. In addition, all employees will receive a non-merit based 1 percent Cost of Living increase in your salary beginning in July 2015 and 2 percent beginning in July 2016. Classified employees also had step increases restored for each year of the biennium. Longevity pay did not pass.
At the same time, state employees’ retirement contributions increased from 13.25 percent to 14.5 percent for each year of the biennium. This increase of 1.25 percent in employees’ retirement contribution will affect employees in the defined contribution retirement system – primarily academic and administrative/professional faculty – and those in the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) – mainly classified staff.
It should be noted that even with the additional retirement contributions, you will see an increase in your monthly paycheck due to the furlough elimination and cost of living increases.
As many of you know by now, legislators did not enact campus carry legislation. Special thanks to Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Greg Brower and other senators for not hearing this legislation after it passed the Assembly.
Silver State Opportunity Grant
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the $5 million Silver State Opportunity Grant into law with a number of education officials by his side, including outgoing CSN student body President William McCurdy II and CSN Government Affairs and Communications Director Michael Flores. This grant will provide low-income community college and Nevada State College students taking at least 15 credits a semester a stipend, based on the student’s ability to pay, to help them attend full time. These students must also be Nevada residents and college-ready, meaning they must be in college-level math or English. This scholarship is effective July 1 and is truly transformational for our students.
Millennium Scholarship Minimum Credit Requirement
The Silver State Opportunity Grant is also meant to counteract the effect new Millennium Scholarship minimum credit requirements will have on our student population. Legislators passed new credit minimums for this scholarship, requiring community college students eligible to receive the Millennium Scholarship to take a minimum of 9 credits, up from 6 credits.
Assemblywoman Dina Neal and Sen. Pat Spearman both shepherded legislation to provide CSN’s Division of Workforce & Economic Development with funds for a workforce development pilot project to work with the Nevada Small Business Development Center, the Urban Chamber, NSHE and other partners to help existing local businesses expand over the biennium.
Again, thank you to all who participated in this session. I think we can be proud of what was accomplished and optimistic about the future of higher education in Nevada. We will continue to update you as we know more.