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July 30, 2014

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Lawmakers OK money for Thomas & Mack upgrades, Nevada State College

Image

Sam Morris

A view of the concourse at the Thomas & Mack Center Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

More money has been poured into construction for UNLV and the Nevada State College in Clark County by the Legislature that also gave the go-ahead for a study for building a large events center at UNLV.

In the final hours of the Legislature, the Senate approved a plan to spend $57.7 million to renovate and make repairs at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV.

Money would come from $85 million in bonds issued by the Nevada System of Higher Education. The 30-year old Thomas & Mack Center will remain open during the 24- to 30-month project to employ 600 workers.

The lawmakers also gave the go-ahead for a study toward building a large events center at UNLV on property owned or leased by the university.

Assembly Bill 335 sets up an 11-member board of directors to study the feasibility and potential financing of the events center to attract large sports and entertainment events.

The board of regents would name four of the directors; one member each would be appointed by the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the majority leader in the Senate, one member from the Clark County Commission and one member from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The board of directors would appoint two other members from the tourism, hotel and gaming industry.

Russell Rowe told the Senate Finance Committee on Friday that this project would tie in with the renovation of the Thomas & Mack Center. And the potential project would attract tourism.

Once the plan is completed, it would come back to the 2015 Legislature, said Rowe, speaking on behalf of Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who sponsored the bill.

Also passed was Assembly Bill 502 that permits the use of $1.2 million in unused money in the estate tax account to consolidate Nevada State College to one campus in Henderson.

Buster Neel of the college said it was the fastest-growing school in the system of higher education. One building is in downtown Henderson and the campus is five miles away. This bill would aid in construction of one or two buildings in the buildout of its 509-acre main campus, near U.S. 95 and Boulder Highway in Henderson.

Students have pledged part of their fees toward the project.

Dan Klaich, chancellor of the higher education system, said Monday that use of this $1.2 million would “lessen the burden on the students.”

Klaich also told the Finance Committee that $2.6 million was found in reserve in an insurance account to help Western Nevada College and Great Basin College in rural Nevada.

The colleges were facing reductions in their budgets of 11-12 percent in a reallocation of funds in the university system with more money going to Southern Nevada schools.

He said this would lessen the reduction to 5 percent in the first year and 10 percent in the second year.

Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, has been pushing hard to restore money to the colleges. He thanked Klaich but said he is still looking for more money to hold the campuses harmless.

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