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University system calls for shared sacrifice

University officials Saturday offered lawmakers a four-step plan they said would greatly minimize the budgetary damage to the system while costing the state just $40 million a year more.

Chancellor Dan Klaich said with the state picking up that much, students are willing to take a comparable increase in their fees and the system will find an equivalent amount of added reductions.

“If people want to talk about shared sacrifice, we’re prepared to share,” Klaich said. “But let’s share equally.”

He said the funding levels in the governor’s proposed budget aren’t shared sacrifice.

“A heavily disproportionate share of the cuts in this budget are falling on higher education,” Klaich said after the joint hearing of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

The plan first equalizes the reductions between the two fiscal years. The governor’s recommended budget provides $466.4 million in General Fund for Fiscal 2012 and $395.5 million in fiscal 2013. That would be changed to $431 million each year.

Students would absorb a 13 percent increase in tuition and fees, adding another $39.7 million to the pot in 2013.

The system would then find additional reductions totaling $43.3 million in each fiscal year.

The state’s share would then be $40.3 million more in General Fund each fiscal year.

Klaich told lawmakers that would raise state support to $471 million a year, reducing the double-digit budget reduction proposed for the system to 7.8 percent a year.

He said that would sharply reduce the estimated 19,000 students who wouldn’t be able to attend classes under the governor’s budget.

“It will save access for 12,700 of those students,” he said.

Klaich said it also would reduce the projected 1,497 layoffs across the system by 560 to less than 1,000.

Klaich said it also would save the colleges of education and agriculture and save programs across the system’s classroom offerings.

He made it clear it’s important, especially to the students who are stepping up that the state participate.

“They’re willing to do that again – if the state matches that,” he said.

Klaich also asked lawmakers to process legislation that would give the campuses and the Board of Regents the ability to move money around between budgets.

The committees took no formal action on the budget proposals. Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said lawmakers will decide at another hearing how much funding to restore and how much authority to give the system to move money around.