Raggio says regents should be appointed | NevadaAppeal.com

Raggio says regents should be appointed

Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, Thursday urged fellow senators to put an amendment before voters that would make the Board of Regents appointed instead of elected.

SJR4 of the 2007 session already has been approved by the Legislature once. If approved again this year, it would go to a public vote.

The amendment would not only make the board appointed by the governor but provide that the Legislature can set the number of regents, the length of their terms and their qualifications.

He said higher education is extremely important in Nevada and traditionally gets about 20 percent of the state’s General Fund budget.

“Under the current structure, the regents are not required to coordinate their efforts with either the governor or the Legislature,” he said.

He said the practical effect of that is “neither the governor nor the Legislature after that has a real voice in how those funds are allocated.”

He said the measure isn’t aimed at anyone on the board, that the problem has been around for a long time.

Raggio also pointed out that 48 states appoint regents.

Regent James Dean Leavitt of Las Vegas opposed the change, saying legislation could address the qualifications of regents to possibly improve those who serve and still allow them to be elected. He said making the board appointive would “disenfranchise probably about 99 percent of the population” since only a few people in prominent positions would be considered for appointment.

“We need to revisit this with a bill that talks about qualifications,” he said.

He was joined by student leaders who also said they prefer to keep the board elected. And Vice Chancellor Jane Nichols said the board in March 2007 passed a resolution that it should remain elected.

Legislative Operations and Elections Chairman Joyce Woodhouse, D-Las Vegas, said she probably would take up the proposed amendment in a work session in the next two weeks.