Gibbons fights back on budget issues | NevadaAppeal.com

Gibbons fights back on budget issues

Gov. Jim Gibbons objected Friday to letters criticizing his public school and higher education budgets, saying he put significant amounts of new money into both.

Assembly Ways and means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, issued a statement Thursday saying Gibbons claims to put education first, but put only $13 million in new money into the public school budgets.

Arberry complained in his letter to Gibbons that the university system and human resources both received substantial increases in their budgets while K-12 education received “a pittance of new enhancements when compared to other budget areas.”

He called on Gibbons to redo the education budgets.

Gibbons said that isn’t true, saying his budget requests an addition of $81 million to K-12 education.

That money, however, is not enhancement funding. State law requires the state to make up any shortfall in the Local School Support Tax, sales tax revenues dedicated to school funding.

Gibbons said his budget increases per pupil spending from $4,696 to $5,329 over the next two years.

He also rejected university Chancellor Jim Rogers’ complaints about the request the system of higher education cut enhancements just as every other state agency has been asked to do. Rogers charged those cuts would destroy the university system.

Gibbons said his budget increases higher education budgets a total of $153 million over the current budget despite the fact student enrollment is about 8,000 less than anticipated in current budgets.

“Let me put this in perspective,” Gibbons said. “I have asked all state agencies and constitutional offices – including my own – to cut their enhancement budgets. All have made meaningful reductions except higher education.”

He said the Legislature is making the same percentage cuts as all other agencies.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.