Today almost all states in America are facing more or less serious budget problems. Nevada`s projected budget gap for next year is going to be the country`s largest in terms of proportion of general-fund budget.The expected shortfall equals to nearly 60% of Nevada`s total budget. The result of it can be disastrous for the state higher education system - from unpaid day offs and furloughs of a staff to even closing entire institutions.
Nevada needs to make the hard choices.In February 2010 the state announced deep cuts in education as long as in health and human services.More than 50 percent of the state tax revenue goes towards public education.The state is going to collect 900 millions less in the next 16 months than officials had budgeted for.Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley said there`s no way the legislators can avoid cuts to education.
Daniel Klaich, Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor, during a hearing before the Legislature`s Interim Finance Committee presented several ways the system could save enough money to cover a 22% shortfall in revenue. It could close entire colleges, or impose 1,290 layoffs, or 20 percent pay cuts across the board, or raise tuition and fees by 48 percent. He said such cut - $37 million for the rest of this fiscal year and $110 million for the next one --would put the system back to 2002 year level financially. The problem with this solution is that the system has 20,000 more students now than it did then.In addition the number of high school graduates in Nevada is rapidly growing.This fact can make the problem with financing the public universities even worse.
The state lawmakers have already approved a 6.9% midyear cut for higher education in addition to 24% cut in state funds in 2009 year`s budget session.As a result, Nevada universities are preparing to close colleges, departments and programs.Thousands of students are being shut out of classes at community colleges.The prospect of closing an entire institution remains possible. Cutting the system too much may have long-term consequences for education ,business and economy in Nevada that will take years to recover from.