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July 30, 2014

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Horsford continues “It’s so bad we’ll have to raise taxes” campaign on education funding

That's the purpose of the latest missive from the media shop state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford set up and is run by ex-Rory Reid spokesman Mike Trask. It lays out all the cuts in K-16 and proposes a massive tax increase to bridge the gap.

Well, half of that, at least:

Proposed K-12 Education Cuts Recap

• The governor’s K-12 budget represents a 13.6 percent reduction in state support from what the 2009 Nevada Legislature approved (or $699 million), with most of this coming from $457.5 million in pay and benefit reductions for teachers and other K-12 employees, who would see their take-home pay cut by 10.3 percent.

NOTE: K-12 pay and benefit reductions must be negotiated with employee bargaining units, and are subject to binding arbitration. If contract negotiations didn’t achieve the $457.5 million reduction target, layoffs of more than 2,500 teachers could occur (based on average teacher pay).

• In addition to cuts in teacher compensation, the governor’s K-12 budget depends largely on diverting $425 million in capital project reserve accounts to the operating funds of school districts. Jeff Weiler, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, says the plan would jeopardize the district’s ability to pay off existing school construction bonds. These bonds are being paid off by diminishing property tax revenues, and Weiler says those revenues are “just barely enough to cover us through the next five years.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, “School district CFO says Sandoval plan would jeopardize district’s finances,” Jan. 26, 2011]

• Governor Sandoval’s K-12 budget proposal would eliminate class-size reduction, full-day kindergarten and other programs as stand-alone programs, and replace them with discretionary block grants to school districts. But the block grants would be $18.7 million less than the $325 million in funding provided for class-size reduction and other programs, and would be shared with charter schools for the first time.

Clark County Superintendent Dwight Jones says elimination of class-size reduction in the school district would be “1,200 layoffs right off the top.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, “School district faces $250 million shortfall,” Jan. 25, 2011]

Class sizes throughout the state could increase by an average of five to six students because of the reduction in state basic per pupil support and eliminating class-size reduction as a stand-alone program.

Proposed Higher Ed Cuts Recap

• Current annual state support of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) would be reduced $162 million in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, from $558 million in the current fiscal year to $395 million in the 2012-2013 fiscal year – 29 percent. It would be reduced $91 million from $558 million to $467 million in the upcoming 2011-2012 fiscal year – 16.3 percent.

NOTE: A $162 million reduction in funding is equivalent to:

• Combined annual state support for the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Desert Research Institute, or

• Total funding for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, or

• Funding for all four community colleges, or

• Layoffs of about 2,000 employees.

• The governor is anticipating that some of the higher education budget cuts would be offset by tuition increases imposed by the Board of Regents. To offset a $162 million reduction in state spending, tuition and fees would need to increase 73 percent – or 83% if 15 percent of the tuition increases were set aside for financial aid, as the governor proposed.

• Governor Sandoval’s proposed higher education budget cuts would be on top of reductions of 36 to 42 percent cuts imposed at universities and community colleges since 2009, resulting in a 9 percent reduction in staff, larger classes, lack of access to classes, and students taking longer to graduate.

What Nevadans think

"I  was astounded by the cost per pupil cut."

Marion Bell, Las Vegas, retired educator

"You cannot cut all education to the bone and still ask more. New industries will not come to a state that devalues education. They want educated people to work in their positions."

Sandra Farino, Las Vegas, school counselor

"I teach two classes at Nevada State College. Unfortuantely, they're not hiring me as a full-time professor for an obvious reason: economic. We cannot cut higher education system. Otherwise, I would lose my adjunct teaching position."

David Kelsey, Las Vegas, college professor

"Our children are the future of this state. This state already has a reputation for bad education and with more cuts our children will suffer. Please do whatever it takes to protect our children."

Marie Heiberg, Las Vegas, grandmother

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