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September 1, 2014

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Dems seek to trim higher ed cuts; union against any decrease

Special Session - Day 2

Senators Barbara Cegavske and Mark Amodei discuss the upcoming vote on the Launch slideshow »

Assembly Democrats have committed to lessen cuts in state funding to higher education to 5 percent, even as the state's teachers union pushed back against a similar Democratic commitment to K-12.

Speaker Barbara Buckley asked for a show of hands from Assembly members on reducing cuts to higher education, which Gibbons has proposed at about 13 percent. The response was a party-line vote with Republicans not wanting to commit.

Assembly Republicans, who also didn't commit to reducing K-12 cuts, have expressed concern over committing to reduce cuts without a plan to raise additional money. Republican lawmakers still are split over how much to raise through fees on mining, gaming and businesses.

Yet even within the Democratic base there is division. The commitment to lessen the cuts to school districts to $87.5 million, rather than the $175 million that Gibbons proposed, didn't satisfy the teachers union. In a meeting with Democratic lawmakers, teachers this morning said they didn't want to see any cuts to K-12.

Nevada State Education Association President Lynn Warne said in an interview that the 5 percent cut to K-12 is "absolutely admirable. They're moving in the right direction. But we think they should set the goal at zero."

Sources say a meeting between teachers and lawmakers this morning was more contentious.

The Nevada Legislature is in its third day of a special session trying to close an $887 million budget deficit.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said, "There's no way to balance the budget without harmful cuts. There's no way to do it. Everyone affected by these cuts will be upset. But no one will be spared."

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