In a sharply worded response to the governor's latest request for agency budget cuts, University System Chancellor Dan Klaich said reductions at this time would be virtually impossible to make.
"We are halfway through our fiscal year, thereby effectively doubling the effect of any suggested cut," he wrote. "Contracts are executed for the year, class schedules are published, registration is largely complete and we have accepted students' fees.
"For these reasons, an operating budget reduction at this time is virtually impossible to implement."
Klaich also advised the governor that, since only the Board of Regents can approve budget changes or reductions, it will be impossible to submit any plan by the Dec. 15 deadline set by Gibbons' staff when they requested budget reduction plans for a 1.4 percent and 3 percent cut.
Klaich recommended instead of seeking cuts now, the governor should pull the $130 million in Local Government Investment Poll money budgeted for fiscal 2011 forward to this year to cover the gap.
The governor's staff had rejected that idea as simply moving money around and creating an even bigger hole next year. But Klaich argued that would at least give agencies and the university system time for better planning.
Klaich also argued the system has done its part.
"Applied particularly to the (Nevada System of Higher Education), I know you will keep in mind that no major agency took a larger and more disproportionate cut than did the NSHE last session," he said in the letter to Gibbons.
Klaich said NSHE's General Fund appropriation went down some 23 percent while its overall funding dropped about 13 percent.
At the same time, he said out of work Nevadans looking to better their professional skills are "flocking to our colleges and universities in unanticipated and record numbers."
The combination of reduced funding and increased demand, he said, has forced "de facto enrollment caps at every system institution as students are being turned away even as our faculty teaches more and larger classes."
"You have said over and over that we cannot tax our way out of this depression," Klaich concluded. "It is just as true that we cannot cut our way to excellence in education."
The letter was dated Tuesday.