Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009 | 2:43 p.m.
A close adviser to Gov. Jim Gibbons reached out to a senior deputy to Jim Rogers, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, and proposed working together to craft a new proposal for funding higher education to present to the Legislature, Rogers told the Sun on Thursday.
The move comes after several weeks in which Gibbons has come under intense criticism for the budget he proposed last month, which included a nearly 36 percent cut to the state’s higher education system.
The olive branch is surprising given that the governor released a video message Wednesday in which he criticized the higher education system’s “decided lack of cooperation” regarding budget matters. For more than a year, Rogers has been lobbing public insults at the governor and calling for new taxes to fund education.
Rogers said Patty Wade Perry, who does not work for the governor’s office but is known as a close friend and adviser, spoke to Dan Klaich, executive vice chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
According to Rogers, Wade Perry told Klaich, “We ought to have a discussion between the governor’s office and the chancellor’s office that’s related to a proposal for a new plan that we could go together to the Legislature with.”
Wade Perry, who sits on an education advisory board called the P-16 Council, had little to say when reached by the Las Vegas Sun.
“We haven’t had any discussions,” she said. “I’m constantly talking to both sides.”
Klaich said the two talked twice this morning.
Wade Perry said she hoped there could be reconciliation between the governor and Rogers and the higher education system over which he presides.
The two sides have been locked in a feud over budget cuts for more than a year, and Rogers said he has little interest in talks.
“What I have told Dan (Klaich) is that he is to tell the governor’s office that we don’t see any up-side to having any discussion, we’ve had several discussions, none of them go anywhere, and quite frankly, that I question the governor’s sincerity in what he’s trying to do, but if they want to make us a written proposal, that we will be glad to look at it. We are not going to engage in any across the table discussion, because nothing’s ever come from any of those.”
That Rogers would rebuff the governor, or someone close to him, is not surprising. Gibbons has become increasingly isolated, especially since releasing his budget. His fellow Republican, Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, has rebuked him for his cuts to higher education, which Raggio has spent a long career supporting.
Rogers no doubt believes he can get a better deal from Raggio than Gibbons.
Coming just a day after Gibbons publicly scolded Rogers, the peace offering from Wade Perry adds to a long list of curious political maneuvers by Gibbons and those close to him. Gibbons’ public approval rating hovers around 25 percent, according to a recent poll.
A spokesman for the governor said he wasn't aware of the matter but was trying to gather information.