This morning’s RJ includes an excellent article by Richard Lake on how the proposed cuts to higher education are calculated, how tuition at four-year institutions might be raised, and other reactions to the governor’s executive budget recommendations. I thought, however, you might like to know more about the impact on CSN.
There are several ways to calculate the budget cuts being recommended. Gov. Sandoval stated in his State of the State address on Monday night that his proposed budget would reduce higher education funding by 17% over the biennium, which includes the federal ARRA funds that are no longer available. We have analyzed the proposal and its impact on CSN, using real money and actual funds available. CSN receives $91.4 million from the general fund. Under the governor’s proposed budget, that allocation would be reduced by $15.5 million in 2012 and $11.3 million in 2013 for a total cut of $26.8 million over the biennium. This represents a budget reduction of 29.3% for the college. This number includes the 5% salary rollback recommended for all employees.
Can we raise tuition and fee to cover this cut? Using undergraduate tuition and fees from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), Nevada’s two-year institutions charge $2,243 per academic year. The average in the 11 western states (excluding California) is $2,834, or 26% more than what Nevada is currently charging. Assessing higher tuition and fees would indeed help cover the recommended cut. But I have serious doubts that we could raise fees high enough to sustain our current level of operations without pricing out thousands of students who could no longer afford to attend CSN. In addition, under current policy, the first 10% increase in tuition and fees would be subject to the 76/24 mandate: that 76 cents of every dollar would have to be returned to the general fund. Increases beyond the 10% would be retained at the campus.
This Saturday, lawmakers will hold a town hall on the state budget in the South and North from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students, staff and faculty are planning to attend the Southern hearing, which will be held at the Grant Sawyer Building in Rm. 4401 (555 E. Washington Ave.) There will also be a rally specific to higher education at 8 a.m. in front of the Grant Sawyer Building. If you can make it, I hope you will attend to show your support for our students and for education in this state.
On February 3, a special meeting of the Board of Regents will be held at 1:00p.m. in the Third Floor Rotunda at DRI in Las Vegas. The primary agenda item is the NSHE biennial budget.
On February 7, the Legislature will convene, and we look forward to working with lawmakers and the governor’s office to make our case for investment in higher education funding. It’s going to be a long 120 days during which one of the only things we can be certain is that we will hear many budget reduction scenarios.
Now is the time to begin to contact your legislative representatives. We have updated our Budget Issues site, located on the home page with new information, and we will keep you informed as the process continues.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have questions, please contact me.