Gov. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday the Board of Regents is "obviously calling for the moon" in asking for a budget increase when every other agency in the state is facing spending cuts for the next budget cycle.
Despite the governor's instructions that agencies - including the university system - submit budgets which reduce general fund spending 14 percent lower than the current two-year budget, the board last Friday approved a proposed budget which asks for a 9.75 percent increase for the coming biennium.
"I have to give them credit for being aggressive," said Gibbons. "The reality is we have to prepare a budget based on what the Economic Forum numbers are."
And unless the economy turns around dramatically, he said, "I do not see really being able to meet their requested increase this time."
"I'm bound by the law which says we have to comply with the recommendations of the Economic Forum," Gibbons said. "That's all we can spend."
Several members of the board made it clear when they approved the proposed budget that they feel it is their responsibility to present a budget based on what the system needs instead of what the governor wants them to submit.
Executive Vice Chancellor Dan Klaich said that is the position of staff as well.
"I don't think anyone on the chancellor's staff or anyone of the presidents makes any excuse for any portion of this budget," Klaich told the board Friday. "We have brought forward to you what we believe are critical needs."
The board is scheduled to meet Aug. 21 to finalize its budget plan, which must be submitted to the state budget office by Aug. 29.
"We are going to sit down and we will work with the chancellor and the Board of Regents to see how we can accommodate their ideas," said Gibbons.
At the same time, he said the Board of Education was being realistic in endorsing budget proposals which contain no pay raises for teachers, no signing bonuses and no extra funding for high risk schools.
"I think they see the reality of what we're dealing with which is that the economy doesn't support what we've done in the past," said Gibbons.
Unlike the university system, he said, the school districts don't have other income sources.
"They don't have alternatives. They cannot raise tuition."
He said he and his staff would work with the school districts as well.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.