Board of Regents to request budget of $1.75 billion | NevadaAppeal.com

Board of Regents to request budget of $1.75 billion

The University of Nevada Board of Regents voted Friday to ask the governor and Legislature for a $1.75 billion budget for the next two years – including $223.6 million in enhancements.

More than $1.3 billion of that total would come from the state treasury with $361.6 million generated by student fees and about $35 million in “other” revenue.

Even so, the percentage of the total budget paid for by student fees would increase under the spending proposal by more than 1 percent as per-credit costs for university undergraduates rise 23 percent to $129.50 per credit over the biennium and community college fees go up 9 percent to $57.25 per credit.

The proposed base budget is $1.63 billion – which is 8.5 percent higher than the current $1.5 billion budget.

Most of that increase covers inflation in such areas as utilities and insurance. But it also includes salary adjustments totaling more than $30 million.

The biggest item on the list of enhancements beyond that base budget is the more than $69 million it would cost to increase the percentage of formula funding paid by the state from 84.5 percent to 89 percent.

That formula calculates the amount of money needed to provide not only classes but support services for the professors and instruction-related services such as libraries. Formula funding is the core of state support for the university system.

Vice Chancellor Danny Klaich told the board that increase is necessary “to ensure none of our institutions receive less money this biennium than they have in the previous biennium.”

He said because of how the funding formula works, institutions including the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which are growing but doing so at a slower rate than the past few years, could actually get less money next year than this year.

“A number of our institutions are in a situation right now where growth is somewhat more flat than it has been,” he said.

For the third budget cycle in a row, the regents voted to ask the governor and Legislature to increase pay scales for part-time faculty.

Community college presidents, in particular, say it is becoming extremely difficult to keep some part-time teachers because the pay is inadequate. The per-credit pay rate for teachers would go to $994 at the universities and would raise community college salaries by at least $140 per class. A teacher teaching a three-credit course would be paid $2,982 per three-credit class taught each semester.

The total cost of the part-time faculty increases would add $13.95 million to the base budget.

A total of $32 million would go to Community College of Southern Nevada to compensate for that campus’s massive growth over the past five years and $30 million to UNLV to beef up that campus’ research programs.

Those additions among others would add $171.4 million to ongoing operations in the university system.

The remaining $52.2 million is for one-shot projects such as library purchases, technology and laboratory equipment.

The $1.75 billion is the proposed operating budget plus one-shot projects for the coming two years. It does not include the $600 million budget the board approved in June for construction projects in fiscal 2008 and 2009. The capital improvement projects budget, however, can tap into the state’s budget surplus – already estimated at more than $500 million.

Most of the operating budget falls under the state’s statutory budget cap, which may limit not only growth of university spending but that of other state agencies.

The university system’s proposed budget will be submitted to the governor, who will modify it according to his priorities before presenting it as part of the overall state budget to the 2007 Nevada Legislature.

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