WNC, GBC funding in peril | NevadaAppeal.com

WNC, GBC funding in peril

In the governor’s State of the State speech that outlined his education spending, two stepchildren of Nevada’s education funding received a lump of coal.

Because of a revision in the funding formula, the rural factor for community colleges in Fallon, Minden and Elko, for example, was eliminated. Local officials and some — not all — regents worked unsuccessfully to restore the Rural Factor, a formula based on lower enrollment to teacher ratios based on part-time faculty.

Not only were lawmakers asleep at their desks when the Rural Factor was eliminated years ago, but a majority of regents allowed the factor, which was created by former Fallon state Sens. Carl Dodge and Virgil Getto in the 1970s, to disappear without fanfare.

In 2013, Gov. Brian Sandoval and the legislature permitted “bridge funding” to help the community colleges transition to the new formula proposed more than two years ago.

Regents received $4.95 million over the biennium — $1.95 million for WNC and $3 million for GBC.

Chancellor Dan Klaich asked for another “bridge funding” measure of the same amount to help WNC and GBC during the next biennium, but the governor cut the request.

“We have requested you give these colleges two more years to get to the level of funding fully implied by the formula simply because the drop off is too steep for them to make that jump in two years,” Klaich told Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees last week.

And let’s examine funding for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, which had its budget and programs whacked more than 30 percent during the dark years of the Great Recession from 2009-2013. It would be important to see funding restored to UNCE’s budget since the governor has highly touted agriculture, the third largest industry in the state.

As we discussed in a prior editorial, the governor proposes money for a medical program at UNLV and $13 million for the Desert Research Institute, proposals that could either be delayed or reduced to provide bridge funding to WNC and GBC.

For example, during the next five years, we see more technical, advanced types of jobs coming into the state than those coming into the medical field. One economic development authority predicts as many as 51,000 jobs could be coming to Nevada within the decade.

Since additional money for WNC and GBC has been removed, then the Assembly and Senate must add bridge funding to ensure WNC and GBC have a major role in shaping Nevada’s economic future, not being pushed to the back of the room like some illegitimate, red-headed stepchildren.

Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.