A response to NSHE’s efficiency report

Andy Matthews

Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Jim Rogers has issued a report on NSHE efficiency improvements, which you can read here.

Nevadans should certainly welcome the release of this report, and Chancellor Rogers ought to be applauded for reversing course on his earlier public claim that he would not detail NSHE cost savings.

One can't help but be skeptical, however, of the Chancellor's claim that, ‘If the Governor's proposed cuts were implemented, they would simply close the System.'

This hyperbolic statement, which refers to the cuts to NSHE included in Gov. Gibbons' proposed biennial budget, simply does not square with the facts. General fund appropriations account for only part of total NSHE funding, and when all sources of funding are included, cuts to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno, for example, amount to less than 15 percent of the schools' total operating budgets.

Also, between 2001 and 2008, NSHE's inflation-adjusted, per-pupil appropriations from the general fund increased by 21 percent. That cuts are necessary today is due primarily to the fact that NSHE funding has grown too long at a rate that is simply not sustainable.

Furthermore, it is important that Nevadans examine this report closely in order to distinguish between its genuine cuts and other measures that are presented as cuts but are, in actuality, ‘cost avoidance' measures. Indeed, many supposed ‘cuts' highlighted in this report are simply cases where NSHE is declining to spend money on projects it could never afford to begin with.

As Nevada's business owners and families make the difficult decision to cut back on their own finances, it is encouraging to see an attempt from NSHE to do the same. However, Nevada's taxpayers deserve better than Chancellor Rogers' exaggerated predictions of the effects those cuts will have and his dubious claims about the way the system is implementing those cuts.