The NSHE Budget has Closed

Dear Senators:

The budget for higher education finally closed yesterday evening, with a 12.5% reduction overall for NSHE’s state-funded operating budgets. This is relative to our budgets for 2008-2009, which were set by the previous Legislature. This cut is only a third of what the Governor requested, and it will require that the Legislature find the offsetting revenues, that they pass the budget by May 21, and they are able to override the Governor’s probable veto.

There is a Regents meeting tomorrow, which Milt and I will participate in, and we will give you more information once we know more. In the meanwhile, here are some things you should know.

First, the university is already much of the way there already, because the Governor already requested budget cuts this past year, and because we have been preparing for this. It also should include any pay cuts or furloughs, though there are constitutional issues regarding whether or not NSHE can be forced by the Legislature to cut pay, and legal/contractual issues regarding whether NSHE can cut our paychecks unilaterally without a notice period.

Second, there are some tuition increases that are being planned, but these are not dramatic in nature relative to those we have already had, and these tuition increases will be allowed to offset some of the budget cuts for us, rather than just going back to the Legislature as is usual.

Third, it is a complicated matter, using enrollments, the formula, and raw politics, to determine how much of a cut each institution will receive. UNLV has experienced a fall in enrollments recently, from which they will mostly be held harmless, and CSN has grown considerably more than we have. I can’t yet say exactly how much we will need to cut for a couple of days, though we have a good idea already.

Finally, you should know that we have been working with the President and the Provost to prepare for this decision, so if we need to have a curricular review to consider cuts to academic programs and tenured positions, you should feel confident that faculty governance and the Senate will play a key role in any decisions.

By the way, if budget discussions leave you a bit bewildered, Bruce and I wrote up two documents to explain them, which I have linked on my website and you might want to peruse:

University Budgets: A Guide for the Perplexed (Mar. 23, 2009).

Funding, Fairness, and the Formula: The University of Nevada, Reno, in the System of Higher Education (Apr. 17, 2009).

Best regards,

Elliott Parker, Ph.D
Faculty Senate Chair
Professor of Economics /0030
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557-0027 U.S.A.

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