Gibbons’ proposal to give higher ed more control | NevadaAppeal.com

Gibbons’ proposal to give higher ed more control

SANDRA CHEREB
Associated Press Writer

Gov. Jim Gibbons proposed sweeping reforms to Nevada’s higher education system Thursday that would give administrators more leeway to spend tuition and state funds as they see fit –

a move to make them more self sufficient.

“I believe in the years to come that this state will ask higher education to become more self-sustaining, that is, less dependent on state resources,” Gibbons said in a written statement he delivered at a news conference in Las Vegas, where the state Board of Regents was meeting.

“If, as a state, we ask higher education to be more self-sufficient, it is right and reasonable that we give them the tools to effectively meet that challenge.”

Among other things, he proposed: giving campuses total control over any new registration fees or out-of-state tuition; exempting campus building projects from state Public Works Board supervision to reduce design and construction costs; and integrating classified employees into the higher education system, as opposed to the state personnel system.

Gibbons also said higher education should be allowed to retain 25 percent of leftover general funds each year. Currently, all general fund dollars left over are returned to the state.

The changes would require approval by the 2011 Legislature.

Gibbons’ proposals come after a special session of the Legislature cut funding for higher education and public schools by nearly 7 percent – roughly $50 million – for the rest of the biennium that ends June 30, 2011.

“We are all suffering from the fatigue of the declining economy and the continual adjustments that we have had to make to our budgets,” Gibbons said, adding that plotting a course for higher education isn’t achievable with “fluctuating state appropriations.”

“I would like to stand before you today as governor and tell you that I can and will increase funding to higher education,” Gibbons said. “Unfortunately, we simply do not have the revenues today to allow me to make that promise.”

University and college presidents are reviewing the budget-cut mandate to determine how to implement them.

The University of Nevada, Reno already has proposed closing its College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, and eliminating other programs to deal with new budget cuts.

Regents will review individual campus plans at a meeting in June.