Rogers to Gibbons: Tap rainy day fund

University system Chancellor Jim Rogers urged Gov. Jim Gibbons to tap into the state's $300 million "rainy day fund" to cover projected budget shortfalls.

In a letter he sent to the governor Monday, Rogers said the fund could cover the $184 million the governor wants to cut from higher education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

But Gibbons spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin shot down the idea later Monday, saying "modest budget cuts and hiring freezes" would better make up for the revenue shortfall.

"Right now we are too early into the biennium to even consider accessing rainy day funds," she said.

The rainy day fund was designed to help deal with state fiscal emergencies.

On Oct. 16, Rogers pitched the idea of the governor calling an emergency session of the Legislature to impose tax increases to cover the projected shortfall, but Gibbons refused to do so.

Rogers stated Monday that he saw the cuts as anything but modest.

The $64 million, or 5 percent, Gibbons wished to cut from higher education could be "a permanent crippling blow to our system" and would result in "faculty and staff layoffs, class reduction, (and) the elimination of programs," he wrote

The Board of Regents would also have to declare a "financial emergency" should the cuts be imposed, he said.

"I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOU CUT ANY PUBLIC FUNDING," Rogers wrote, with the word "ANY" underlined.

In the letter, Rogers again refused Gibbons' request that he come up with a plan by Monday to cut the $64 million over this year and next year.

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at or (702) 383-0440.