Governor, chancellor, regents talk tuition hikes, other funding options
The governor and university officials are exploring tuition hikes and shifting community college costs to local governments among other ways to fund higher education’s needs for the coming budget cycle.
Gov. Jim Gibbons met in his office Monday with Regents Chairman Michael Wixom and Chancellor Jim Rogers to discuss what Rogers described as “seven or eight ideas where to get the money.”
Tuition increases, Wixom said, “are not something that can solve the entire problem.” He said they would have to get student support.
The issue has come up repeatedly because the University of Nevada system is among the cheapest to attend in the entire West.
Wixom said another element in that discussion is the state law, which now mandates the majority of any tuition or fee increase be used to offset state funding, effectively turning the money over to the general fund.
“The Legislature will have to buy into the solution as well,” he said.
Wixom said his proposal is that money raised by raising tuition stay on the campus where it is collected. He and the governor’s chief of staff, Josh Hicks, said because the revenue numbers are still a moving target, there are no estimates yet as to how much tuition might be increased.
Also on the table, according to Wixom and Hicks, is the concept of involving local governments in funding the community colleges that serve their communities. Henderson has already worked out an agreement that allows Nevada State College to participate in property tax revenue.
“That will require a lot more discussion,” said Hicks.
He said the first thing to work out is whether those local governments are financially able to help the colleges.
Wixom said securitization of the tobacco money ” in effect selling future payments to the state for a one-time, lump sum of cash ” was also discussed. But, Hicks said, given the current economy, this isn’t the best time for to get a good deal for the state.
Both said the primary purpose of the meeting was to keep communications open between the system and governor’s office. They said no decisions were made and that much firmer numbers are needed before those decisions can be made.
“I don’t think anybody is under the illusion we are going to come out of this without budget reductions,” said Wixom.
– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.