Regents approve budget plan without 10 percent cut |

Regents approve budget plan without 10 percent cut

by Geoff Dornan

With only Ron Knecht voting no, the Board of Regents on Friday approved a budget request without the 10 percent cuts called for by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

The proposed budget asks for a 3.2 percent increase in total state funding over the current budget – an added $31.45 million in fiscal 2012 and $11.9 million above that in fiscal 2013. That would bring total state funding for the coming biennium to $1.19 billion.

Chancellor Dan Klaich and Regents chairman James Dean Leavitt said the budget isn’t intended as a slap in the face to the governor or an indifference to Nevadans suffering in the recession.

“This is the time when Nevada and Nevadans need education more than ever,” said Klaich. “I think for us to turn our backs on our citizens at this time is unconscionable and I wouldn’t do it.”

He said enrollments are rising rapidly as people seek education and new job skills to recover from their lost jobs.

Klaich said to create a budget with a 10 percent cut is premature. He said the system doesn’t know what the final number the state will be able to provide and that creating different scenarios spelling out different levels of cuts is “enormously destructive” to the system.

Klaich said when the system is told the amount it will receive, the presidents and the board will be able to adjust the budget to that dollar amount but that two months before the election of a new governor and four months before the start of the 2011 Legislature is too early to lay out a reduction plan.

“How are we to sit here in August 2010 and guess what’s coming down the pipe in November and 2011?” he said.

“In no way is this snubbing the governor,” said Leavitt. “In no way is this being disrespectful to the office of the governor.”

Knecht, however, said submitting a budget without the 10 percent cut and instead asking for more money “would be callous – even contemptuous – toward the vast majority of Nevadans struggling with the economic disaster caused mainly by government over-reach in taxing and spending and regulation at all levels.”

The vote, with Regent Jack Schofield absent, was 11-1 to approve the plan.