Report on impact of higher-education cuts is factually wrong

Victor Joecks

Strong words? Yes. Accurate? Yes. What the RJ’s Richard Lake reported Tuesday:

“Pick any percentage you want and you can make it real,” Klaich said. “But you can’t run away from the fact that this means $162 million out of the budget of the Nevada System of Higher Education.”

That amount equals the entire annual state support for:

  • Nevada State College
  • Great Basin College
  • Western Nevada College
  • UNLV’s law and dental schools
  • And virtually all of the University of Nevada, Reno, including the medical school.

A month ago, the general public would have had to take this assertion at face value. But since TransparentNevada is now hosting 12 years of operating budgets from NSHE, we can fact-check it. Here is the yearly state subsidy for each of the above institutions:

  • Nevada State College: $13 million
  • Great Basin College: $16.5 million
  • Western Nevada College: $18.5 million
  • UNLV Law School: $7.8 million
  • UNLV Dental School: $8.2 million
  • UNR and Medical School only: $147.9 million (excluding $27 million for other UNR programs)

That’s a grand total of $211.9 million – which is quite a bit more than the $162 million reduction that Gov. Brian Sandoval is proposing for FY13. And focusing on the $162 million number ignores how large NSHE’s operating budget is: $1.744 billion.

A less than 10 percent reduction (which doesn’t include extra money from tuition increases) is a real cut, but the impact these reductions will have needs to be kept in perspective.

Fact-check what you read, and don’t be manipulated by false claims.

Note: I e-mailed Richard Lake with these statistics on Tuesday. If he sends me a response clarifying or explaining the stats in his article, I will post it here.