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October 31, 2014

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Lawmakers miss deadline on cuts to higher education

Updated Monday, May 11, 2009 | 6:10 p.m.

The Nevada Legislature blew another self-imposed deadline Monday as it failed to reach a consensus on how much to cut higher education.

The "core group" broke Monday evening with tight lips, saying they would meet again Tuesday to try and come up with an agreement.

Speaker Barbara Buckley repeated that they are only $14 million apart. Higher education advocates have been pushing for a 10 percent cut.

"We're a half inch apart," she said. "Like any negotiation, the last inch is the hardest."

Buckley added that everyone is "a little bit tired and grumpy."

Republicans, though, want to keep the amount of cuts they restore compared to Gov. Jim Gibbons' budget as low as possible, to limit the size of a tax increase that is coming.

No one said publicly what the disagreement was. But Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, when asked about whether the amount of money raised would be higher than $836 million, said "Ask Bill Raggio. He's the only person in the room here who has a limit, based on numbers."

The 2003 Legislature passed an $836 million tax increase, the largest in state history. Some lawmakers have wanted to hold any tax increase below that figure.

Raggio denied Coffin's portrayal of the situation, saying "we're still deliberating."

Dan Klaich, executive vice chancellor for the Nevada System of Higher Education, said he is still hoping for a 10 percent cut from what the Legislature approved two years ago.

Gov. Jim Gibbons' budget calls for a 36 percent cut to spending on higher education from 2007 levels.

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