Rein in spending by Nevada universities
December 6, 2002
While we’ve generally been in agreement with Gov. Kenny Guinn’s assessment of the state’s dire revenue picture and the need to raise taxes, Nevada continues to pour money into one very leaky bucket.
That would be the university system, where some people apparently have yet to grasp the whole belt-tightening concept.
Two news items caught our eye this week to remind us of the disparity between the university system and the rest of state government.
One was the unfortunate prediction by State Treasurer Brian Krolicki that prepaid college tuition rates may rise by 30 to 50 percent next year because of falling investment rates and higher tuitions.
The program is an excellent one — and don’t you wish you had bought into it last year.
But while the rest of the state debates a variety of tax increases, university regents beat everybody to the punch earlier this year by boosting tuition over two years by 15 percent at universities and 7 percent at community colleges.
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The second item was the number of students who enrolled for Henderson State College’s first semester in September — 180. By the time classes start for the second semester in January, enrollment may be up to almost 250. That’s still only half of what was predicted when lawmakers led by Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, lobbied so hard to build the new school. (Remember that two years ago, Guinn did not put money for the college in his budget, saying it was a good idea but premature.)
Henderson State doesn’t get nearly the attention in Northern Nevada, but in Las Vegas it’s known as Boondoggle U. for its tendency to inhale state funds — funds that could be put to much better use elsewhere.
Unfortunately, UNR and UNLV have had their own financial morasses — a fire academy and a library, to name two — so there’s not a lot of finger-pointing going on in academic circles.
In Nevada, $30 million wasted here and $20 million wasted there begins to add up in a hurry.
Spending by the University and Community College System of Nevada, which had the nerve to draw up a proposal earlier this year calling for 24 percent increases on a $1.3 billion budget, needs to be reined in hard before Nevada taxpayers will believe the fat has been trimmed from all of state government.