Higher ed official: Governor's budget shafts the system

Criticism of  the higher ed budget is bubbling up inside the system, with a key official calling it a "disappointment," according to a memo obtained by The Nevada Independent.

Here are the key paragraphs from the memo penned Friday by Nevada Faculty Alliance liaison Kent Ervin.:

As is now widely known, the executive budget funds 2% COLAs each year for all state employees including faculty, funds merit step increases for classified employees, but does not fund the merit pool for NSHE faculty. It is particularly disappointing that although the stated “highest priority” of the Board of Regents is equal treatment of faculty compensation as for other state employees, NSHE System officials have been lauding the Governor’s budget.

It is less well known that the executive budget seriously underfunds the Weighted Student Credit Hour (WSCH) formulas due to “understatements” in base budgets. A summary of the budgets for the formula-funded budgets (for the seven instructional institutions) is provided below. Although the General Fund allocation to NSHE instructional budgets is increasing by $64.2M or 7.6%, which sounds very good, the additions to programs and budgeted costs are $102.7M (totals for the biennium).

My guess: Facts aside, this will not be received well on either end of the capital courtyard.


Here is the memo:

From: Nevada Faculty Alliance
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2017 3:50 PM

Subject: NFA Legislative Update 3/8/2017

 

The Governor’s budget recommendations for NSHE were presented to the Legislature at a hearing on 2/28/2017 and discussed by the Board of Regents on 3/2/2017.

As is now widely known, the executive budget funds 2% COLAs each year for all state employees including faculty, funds merit step increases for classified employees, but does not fund the merit pool for NSHE faculty. It is particularly disappointing that although the stated “highest priority” of the Board of Regents is equal treatment of faculty compensation as for other state employees, NSHE System officials have been lauding the Governor’s budget.

It is less well known that the executive budget seriously underfunds the Weighted Student Credit Hour (WSCH) formulas due to “understatements” in base budgets. A summary of the budgets for the formula-funded budgets (for the seven instructional institutions) is provided below. Although the General Fund allocation to NSHE instructional budgets is increasing by $64.2M or 7.6%, which sounds very good, the additions to programs and budgeted costs are $102.7M (totals for the biennium).

Where does the $38.5M shortfall come from? Either (1) only part of the $58M in WSCH formula growth is funded or (2) the touted $31.2M in “enhancements” are really carve-outs from existing programs. In either case, the ultimate result is that student fees and tuition will have to cover enrollment growth and/or enhanced programs, in violation of the legislative formula agreement that student fee and tuition growth would not be offset by general fund reductions and that the WSCH formula is funded by the state.

Perhaps worse than the shortfalls in funding is the non-transparent (to be kind) way that the executive budget has been presented—showing full funding for WSCH growth and enhancements but subtracting tens of millions of dollars from the “base” budgets, which are funding current students and programs.

Faculty and students should be deeply concerned by the potential for reduction or loss of programs and services, and additional financial burdens which could be placed on students. The NFA urges faculty and students to phone or e-mail your legislators to express your concerns. Find your legislator at http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/ (enter address in box). E-mails should be from personal accounts outside of work hours.

The next legislative budget hearing for NSHE is on 3/22/2017. If you are receiving this a a forward and wish to receive regular NFA updates, please join NFA through your institutional chapter.

Sincerely,

Kent Ervin

NFA Legislative Liaison