Regents consider higher education budget cuts | NevadaAppeal.com

Regents consider higher education budget cuts

LAS VEGAS (AP) – There are no easy or painless solutions for the state’s colleges and universities to meet a projected $110 million shortfall in the next fiscal year, Chancellor Dan Klaich said Monday.

During a meeting of the Board of Regents, Klaich said the state’s budget crisis will undermine years of progress in higher education.

The Nevada System of Higher Education is facing a $37 million reduction in state funding as of March 1 and $110 million for the 2011 fiscal year that begins July 1.

The $110 million cut amounts to a nearly 30 percent reduction from the budget approved for higher education by lawmakers during the 2009 session.

Klaich outlined three scenarios to meet the budget deficit: 20 percent pay cuts; five additional furlough days per month per employee; or nearly 1,300 layoffs.

Klaich said he met with college and university presidents over the winter break and encouraged them to prepare reports on how they would implement 8 percent budget cuts.

Since then, the state’s revenue forecast has gotten worse. The state Economic Forum on Jan. 22 projected a $1 billion shortfall through the rest of the biennium.

“I think our collective breath was taken away, and our planning to date became moot, on that terrible Friday afternoon,” Klaich told regents.

Higher education already has seen its share of state funding dramatically trimmed, resulting in layoffs, larger class loads for faculty, and fewer class openings.

“We are not sitting here before you talking about cuts from whole cloth,” Klaich said. “The cloth is tattered and has holes at this point.”

Gov. Jim Gibbons plans a televised speech on Feb. 8 to detail Nevada’s financial crisis and call a special session of the Legislature.