Legislators cut budget pain for rural Nevada colleges

CARSON CITY — Two rural Nevada colleges will feel less budget pain than initially proposed under actions taken Saturday by legislative money committees.

Lawmakers on the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees agreed to add $1 million a year to reduce losses Great Basin and Western Nevada colleges would realize under a new higher education funding formula.

The formula adopted by the Board of Regents calculates state funding based on courses completed, rather than enrollment. Additionally, upper-level classes are given more weight because they cost more for institutions to offer.

The effect was a shift in money going from Northern Nevada to schools in Southern Nevada.

Legislators agreed to hold the two rural Northern Nevada colleges to a budget cut of 11 percent from existing levels in each of the next two years, instead of 15 percent as initially proposed.

Great Basin College in Elko, with a budget this year of roughly $14 million, will see its funding reduced by about $1.5 million instead of $2.1 million.

Western Nevada College, headquartered in Carson City with satellite campuses in Minden and Fallon, will lose $1.6 million from its $15 million budget in each of the next two years. It was looking at a $2.2 million annual hit.

Two Southern Nevada campuses will see the biggest infusion of cash.

For the upcoming year, Nevada State College in Henderson will get $3 million more, seeing its budget increase 34 percent to $12.2 million. It adds another $700,000 the following year. College of Southern Nevada in the Las Vegas Valley gains roughly $7.5 million in 2014 and $4.5 million in 2015.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas will gain $2.4 million next year, a 2 percent increase, to nearly $127 million. In 2015, its budget will increase to $133 million. In the north, the budget for the University of Nevada, Reno was set at $88.4 million a 3.3 percent decline, in 2014. The following year, it regains some footing to $92.8 million.

In all, the money committees approved $751 million for the upcoming budget cycle for the state’s seven institutions.

Actions taken by the committees will be drafted into a bill for final approval.