Students call for compromise on university budgets | NevadaAppeal.com
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Students call for compromise on university budgets

Nevada college students, from left, Beatriz Aguirre, Nathaniel Phillips and LeLiana DeLeon testify against deep cuts to higher education during a hearing at the Legislature on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, in Carson City, Nev. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
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University students who have been camped outside the Legislature for the past two nights on Wednesday urged lawmakers not to adopt a budget that will devastate the system.

“We feel that Nevada just doesn’t care about us,” said Nathaniel Phillips. “We feel you’re putting your party before the people. We are the people you represent.”

Kyle George of Las Vegas said he has made the trip from Las Vegas to Carson City so many times, “I’m tired of talking about this.”

“Please set aside political ideology,” he said. “Meet us half way in the middle.”

LeLiana Deleon, a biology major in Southern Nevada, pointed out that, without education, lawmakers on the committee wouldn’t be where they are now.

“The future of Nevada is with the kids,” she said. “Do not let the future crumble.”

J.T. Creedon who attends the College of Southern Nevada said the governor told students he wouldn’t lift the sunsets on tax increases approved two years ago because promises were made those taxes would go away.

“The Board of Regents and system promised us these (tuition and fee) increases would be lifted as well,” he said. “Those sunsets were lifted. I don’t understand why promises can be broken to students but not to anybody else.”

Phillips told the joint session of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees that simply following along with the governor’s plan isn’t doing the job they were elected to do.

“You’re silencing your own voices by acquiescing to the governor’s plan,” he said.

Students have already agreed to the 13 percent a year increase in tuition and fees proposed by the regents and Chancellor Dan Klaich. But Klaich advised lawmakers during initial hearings on the proposed budget that support is contingent on lawmakers providing the system with a budget that doesn’t devastate programs, force deep cuts in class offerings and eliminate some degrees.

Sebring Frehner, head of the Nevada State Student Alliance, said after the meeting what happens with the budget is completely in the hands of lawmakers because everyone knows Sandoval will veto anything except his recommended spending plan

“The governor is irrelevant,” he said pointing to Sandoval’s absolute rejection of the idea of any revenue increases. “But if it doesn’t get out of here with two thirds, it’s dead on arrival,” he said of the budget.

Frehner said students will take to the streets during the next election cycle if necessary to make their positions known and oppose those who vote for the deep cuts Sandoval has proposed.