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March 31, 2015

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Chancellor gives gloomy outlook for higher education amid budget debate

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Chancellor Dan Klaich

Nevada Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich delivered a blunt assessment of the financial future of the state's eight colleges and universities Friday amid the ongoing budget debate in the state Legislature.

Klaich briefed the 13 members of the publicly elected Board of Regents during a special meeting at UNLV, saying they have done everything they can to prevent what had been $162 million in higher education budget cuts being pushed by Gov. Brian Sandoval and legislative Republicans.

"The difficult news is there's an enormous ideological divide in this (legislative) session that has as far as I can determine nothing to do with higher education," he said. "How (the divide will) be bridged is unknown to me and unknown to most."

University and college presidents, lobbyists and members of the business community have advocated for higher education's budget message, he said, yet that message hasn't resonated with Sandoval, his staff or Republican lawmakers.

The proposed $162 million in cuts were reduced by $18 million earlier this week when the five-member state Economic Forum delivered a new revenue outlook that will reduce cuts to higher education and the state's public schools by $263 million to $277 million.

The unexpected revenue was the result of a temporary amnesty to pay back sales taxes owed by companies doing business in the state, record gold prices that have benefited Northern Nevada mining operations, increased clothing and equipment sales linked to the mines, sales tax revenue generated by purchases for a natural gas pipeline under construction in Northern Nevada and unclaimed personal bank and investment accounts forfeited to the state after they go unclaimed.

The bulk of that money, about $240 million, will go to the state's K-12 public schools. A total of $20 million is earmarked for the state's colleges and universities.

Late Thursday, the governor's office informed the higher education system that UNLV will receive $4.8 million from the so-called add back during the 2011-2013 budget period; the College of Southern Nevada will receive $3 million. UNR will get $3.7 million, Nevada State College will receive $367,000, with an additional $250,000 going to the Boyd School of Law and $240,000 earmarked for the UNLV dental school. University and college officials haven't determined how they will disburse the additional revenue.

Legislative Democrats on Thursday unveiled a long-awaited revenue plan that would include new taxes on services and business revenues. Democrats project that proposal would boost state general spending during the 2011-2013 budget period by an estimated $920 million more than Sandoval's proposed $6.1 billion budget.

"It essentially totally revamps the tax structure of the state," Klaich said of the plan introduced by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas.

An estimated $123 million of the additional tax revenue would go to higher education, closing the projected budget hole while reversing recent cuts, according to higher education officials.

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga dismissed the plan Friday.

"Clearly, we don't support finding money through taxes," he wrote in a text message. "We do appreciate the chancellor's efforts and hope he continues to work on behalf of students."

Since 2008, UNLV has lost 196 state-funded, full-time equivalent positions, or 8.1 percent, and the Nevada System of Higher Education has experienced cuts totaling 18.4 percent. UNLV has eliminated about 540 positions since the 2008 fiscal year. If Sandoval's budget is passed, the higher education system projects that UNLV will experience additional cuts.

UNLV is proposing the closure of 12 academic colleges, schools and departments or centers; and elimination or suspension of academic programs, 36 academic degrees and the elimination of 600 course sections.

Systemwide, for all seven degree-granting institutions within the Nevada System of Higher Education, officials are looking at the closure of 29 academic colleges, schools, departments or centers; elimination or suspension of 23 academic programs; elimination of 46 academic degrees and the elimination of 2,313 course sections.

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  1. It's nearly 7pm, the Morlocks are beginning to stir. I wonder what they will try to slice up tonight.

  2. Education has already been cut. UNLV is already down 540 positions. UNLV's budget has been slashed by $50 million since 2007. Faculty members have increased their workloads and class sizes. But still UNLV must offer 1000 fewer sections of core courses, which means it takes longer to graduate. Seven academic units have already been eliminated. If the governor's cuts go through, we stand to lose 33 more programs and 300 more employees. Librarians are being cut--at a university!The budget for part-time instructors has already been reduced by 25%; that means that fewer and fewer sections of core classes are being offered. At CSN, this translates to 5000 students having been turned away this academic year and 9000 more so far for the next academic year.

    I am not suggesting that middle-class taxpayers shoulder more of the tax burden, a burden, by the way, that a great many UNLV, CSN, NSC students , all faculty and staff in higher ed and K-12 share since so many of us work and pay the same taxes every other working citizen pays. If you think about it, this means, in effect, that people who work in education pay part of their own salaries. Would you take a job for which you had to contribute money to pay your own salary--at the same rate even though the salary just keeps getting smaller?

    The fact is that the governor and the legislators have other avenues open to them, including delaying the sunset on taxes already in place and revising the tax structure for the mining industry, an industry that leaves very little money here. It's not like they can go somewhere else to mine the minerals that are located here, you know.

    Corporate Nevada has indicated that they are willing to invest in education. Perhaps that's just a PR ploy, but if it is a bluff, we should call it.

  3. Really, rejecto? No need? Can you back that up with the kind of hard data I use to make my claims? Or should we just take your word for it?

    If by "grow a pair" and "man up" you're suggesting a sex change operation, no thanks. I'm actually fine with my with the pair I have (above the waist--get it?). Besides, my husband and I both teach. We can't afford health care any longer.

  4. Oops! *fine with the pair I have* Please excuse the typo. I'm a bit tired and got lax with my proofreading.

  5. That is $144 million in lost revenue less tuition increases and fee increases out of just over $2 billion in spending for the biennium. Tough, but not impossible; "devastating" is over the top rhetoric.

    Gina, most of the cuts to UNLV have been imaginary. They've had some real budget cuts to be sure. But the bulk of the cuts were cuts on promised increases in spending. Its kinda like how I promised to buy myself an Aston Martin but found myself short $130,000 again and I had to cut that from my budget.

  6. Chunky says:

    Or, how smart would it have been if while in school Mr. Gibbons bought that Aston Martin for $130,000 knowing when he gets out and gets a job in his chosen profession it will take him nearly 20 years to afford to pay off that loan?

    If you're not a doctor, lawyer or some other highly compensated professional with specific skills, what the heck are people thinking running up $100,000 student loans?

    "Over the top rhetoric" is an understatement. If half the energy the university administrators put into whining and railing about the budget cuts were put into figuring out how to make it work, we'd have answers and solutions.

    Chunky is glad Ms. Sully stood up and told the group to earn her respect. The problem is she wants them to earn her respect by ignoring the freight train of reality headed their way. Instead she should insist that they get off their collective rear ends and show us a plan as to how they ARE going to make it work. That is how to earn our respect!

    Regardless, this train left the station with the last election and sticking your head in the sand ignoring it helps no one.

    Get over it, get on with it and do the best you can with what we have.

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  7. @Gibbons Imaginary? Try telling the tenured professor who has been told she doesn't have a job next year that the cuts are "Imaginary". You must be smoking some imaginary, ideological crack.

  8. @rejecto: Nice deflection! But I'm still waiting for you to answer my question about hard data. Got any? Or are you just making unsubstantiated assertions? Here are some data for you:

    Every dollar that Nevada spends on higher ed comes back 16-fold. The rate of unemployment among those with college degrees is about 6%. For those with some college, it's 10%. For high school grads, it's 12%. For those who leave high school without a diploma, it's 17%. These aren't made-up figures. They come from the national American Community Survey from 2009. Check it out here:

    Nevada has the highest rate of unemployment in the country. Maybe investing in higher education is actually the prudent way to plan for the future.

  9. @Chunky: Everyone who buys a house takes out precisely the kind of loan you're ridiculing. It's called "investing in the future." Same with student loans. Since the unemployment rate among those with a high school diploma is 12% and unemployment among those with a college diploma is about 6%, it seems a sensible investment, especially for those of us who are first-generation college students.

  10. Imaginary cuts, Mr. Gibbons? Tell that to the 5000 students CSN had to turn away this year because there aren't enough instructors to teach them. Tell that to the 9000 who have already been turned away for next year. Tell it to me and students like me, who finished their coursework on time but who couldn't take their scheduled qualifying exams when faculty withdrew from PhD committees because their jobs were in danger of being cut.

    Tell it to the classified staff who already mandated to take UNPAID days off and who already made less than people in the private sector for doing the same work. Tell it to the classified staff who can no longer afford to keep their cars on the road because 5% of $36k is equivalent to the cost of their auto insurance.

    Tell it to the students who have been admitted to programs and awarded teaching assistantships, and then told that they would not get the assistantships OR the teaching experience that comes with those jobs. Tell it to them when they enter the job market with no teaching experience and end up on the dole because they can't get hired anywhere without teaching experience.

    Tell it to the citizens of Southern Nevada when they lose the 84,000 hours (the equivalent of $1.1
    million) of social work provided each year to the community by the students of the School of Social Work as part of their program. In a state with the highest unemployment rate, the second highest suicide rate, the fifth highest rate of adult depression and the second highest rate of depression in children, we are going to need social workers. But they can go elsewhere to school and provide that unpaid service to the citizens of another state, I guess.

  11. @nevadaappleslices: I do use my degrees. I use them to teach.

  12. nevadaappleslices, all the personal information you're going to get is what you got when you read the article. Unless you do some research.

    I will not agree to let a conversation about education funding be hijacked by attempts to shift it toward me. I made some claims. Anything other than counterclaims backed by data is irrelevant.

    Here's a claim. Because I study and teach English, I'll use a metaphor:

    Education in Nevada is crumbling, and Governor Sandoval has turned on the jackhammer instead of pouring new concrete.

    Can you say "privatize"?

  13. Ms. Sully:

    To change to tone of the dialog, what is your vision of higher education? What should be supported or stopped or started? How much support should be funded by the public and for which of the institutions. What are the priorities you would set in this?

    One day the budget will be passed and we will all have to move on to thinking about the next biennium.

  14. @Gunslinger A10: Thank you for your kindness. But let's ignore me. Let's talk about the relationships among a college education, unemployment, and lifetime earnings, okay?

    It's been a while since I took math, and I've never taken statistics, so I'm not sure what you mean by "mitigate" in what seems to me the esoteric sense in which you use it. However, I do understand words. How about these, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (

    "Business cycles run their course and the economy goes from expansion to recession--but regardless of whether the economy is booming or contracting, an inverse relationship exists between education and unemployment: more education is associated with less unemployment. In 2009, the unemployment rate for workers with college degrees was 4.6 percent. The rate for workers without a high school diploma was 10 points higher. "

    And these, from the same site:

    "If you think what people say about higher education leading to higher earnings is a cliche, you might want to consider that sometimes cliches are true. In 2009, the median weekly earnings of workers with bachelor's degrees were $1,137. This amount is 1.8 times the average amount earned by those with only a high school diploma, and 2.5 times the earnings of high school dropouts."

  15. Its a good thing Joe Lamy is here, he can heat all our homes with his hot air.... too bad its summer buddy.

  16. Gina M Sully,

    Please read my statement. I said the cuts in 2007 and 2008 were imaginary. They cut promised increase in spending, they did not make actual decreases in spending. The budget went up through 2009.

    Up to that point the "unpaid" days off were done so they could keep their pay increases on the books without having an actual pay increase.

    Our government gets away with cutting the budget by not cutting the budget because they do budgeting far differently than you or I and don't explain it. They hope we will remain ignorant and they can keep doing what they do.

    If you don't believe me, just get a hold of the CSN, UNLV, UNR, NSHE budgets yourself.

  17. PS, when doing proper math the lifetime earning advantage of a college degree is about $300,000 after 40 years of work

    And that is for people WITH jobs at the time of the surveys and estimates.

    Thus college kids without jobs aren't pulling the average down.

    College educations are overrated because kids don't learn much of value and pay such a high cost to get the degree.

    We are in a higher education bubble and it will be an expensive and catastrophic collapse.

  18. Mr. Lamy,

    Sure, maybe I'll stop by your business but I don't think you actually have one. I've asked for, resume. Nothing.

  19. Klaich, with all your perks you are paid $345,000.00 a year while your predecessor gave his back and kept only $23,000.00. Quit your whining and give up all the freebies you're sucking from the system along with the rest of the bloodsuckers you have sucking off the system. Lastly stop cramming liberal biased teaching down the kids throats and teach these kids how to work, how to reads, how to be accountable, how to read and write, math, and only teach factual information not the liberal lying tactics. Remember, just because somebody says it to be true, surely doesn't mean it to me true, you moron.

  20. Joe, I asked for your business not a link to a business in Paris, France....

  21. Here is a fact you all can agree on: education is worthless unless you apply it. Somewhere. Anywhere.

    Here is another fact: for over 30 years, the Nevada State Legislature has "kicked the can down the road" in regards to avoiding meaningful tax structure reform. One of the most effective means to bring about change is, awareness of the problem, defining solutions, setting a timeline for implementing those solutions, and re-evaluating along the way to see if the planned solution is working or not, and make needed adjustments.

    We would NOT be having this conversation had tax reform taken place back in the 1960s here in Nevada. Here we are today. We can be throwing statistics and research around all week, but the bottom line is that the State of Nevada needs a positive revenue stream, moreover, a reformed tax structure suited to current times. If even to have mining, casino/resort, and big box stores pay an average of what the other 49 states tax them, that would be a start.

    Only our NEVADA STATE LEGISLATORS CAN create tax reform laws. It is time to make our State Representatives listen to us and be accountable to us, citizens of Nevada-----but for that to happen, we must do our parts and communicate to them what we expect them to do. This can be done via email, USA Mail, telephone, or visiting their field offices.

    For now, Nevada State Universities may need to focus on a few quality degree programs and do them extremely well, instead of trying to offer something for everybody. That strategy may have spread the finances thin, and was unsustainable during harsh economic times. Programs of great need in Nevada are: medical, dental, engineering, and law. Currently, there is a gut on the market with teachers, sorry. Private colleges and/or universities can pick up the slack and offer the "other" discipline courses until economic times improve.

    Cut GED, ELL, ESL programs until the economy improves. Many of these folks refused to listen going through the K through 12 years and graduate traditionally, so they should pay for private services. Maybe they will listen and behave a little bit better, as the motivation will be there (coming out of their own pockets). People make choices in life. They have to have the courage to take their lumps/endure the consequences, instead of expecting taxpayers bailing them out or paying their way through life. That mind set is part of the problem with students and parents. People have to learn to live within their means.

  22. typo, "There is a 'glut' on the market with too many trained teachers.....

    There are more teachers than there are classrooms to teach here in Nevada. My apologies for the typo.

  23. "Joe"

    I'm still going to call bs on that, still no company website either. It is interesting, however, to note you're using a fake name and trying to pass that off as a real name. ;)