Legislature called into special session to finish work
The Nevada Legislature was called back into special session on Tuesday morning by Gov. Brian Sandoval to consider four bills and an appropriation to the Millennium Scholarship, the governor said on Twitter, just hours after lawmakers convened the regular session on Monday.
Lawmakers adjourned at midnight on Monday after approving most of their work, including a two-year, $19 billion budget.
Sandoval called lawmakers back into session to deal with bills on class-size reduction, charter school management, the use of tax deferments as incentives for new business, permitting a sales tax increase to fund police expansion in Clark County. The session wrapped up on Tuesday morning.
On the last day of the regular session, Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said he found most of the money needed to keep the state’s two small rural community colleges — including Western Nevada College — intact.
Goicoechea said in hearings about the university system budget that the two colleges are the only institutions taking a serious cut under the new university system funding formula and that, after the cuts they’ve endured over the past five years, they can’t absorb any more damage.
Under the governor’s budget, he said, they would take a 10 percent cut the first year of the biennium and 15 percent the second year.
What Goicoechea got Monday night was $2.56 million from within the university system budget. With that money, he said, the first year-cut remains at 10 percent but the second year reduction is reduced to 5 percent.
While Goicoechea said the cut for Great Basin was only a couple of million dollars, “when you take a couple of million dollars out of a $15 million budget, that’s a lot.”
The new funding formula was recommended by an interim study committee and adopted by the Board of Regents. Included in recent recommendations was a hold-harmless provision for both colleges. Sandoval rejected that and called for a 10 percent cut the first year, followed by 15 percent in the second. Southern Nevada lawmakers made more changes, but the net reduction was still about 10 percent and 15 percent.
That would put Western Nevada at just under $26.8 million for the biennium and Great Basin at $24.8 million. Even with the addition of the $2.56 million, the two schools will get less state funding than they do under their current budgets.
“This is still too bad a cut,” WNC President Carol Lucey said.