LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Following last night's State of the State address and release of the Executive Budget recommendation, higher education leaders praised Gov. Brian Sandoval for his continued support for and investment in Nevada's public education system.
"We are extremely grateful to the governor for promoting a 10.25 percent ($115 million) budget increase for the Nevada System of Higher Education over the next two years," said Chancellor John V. White. "Governor Sandoval has once again demonstrated his support for our students and in the importance of increasing our capacity to help more Nevadans earn a college certificate or degree."
Gov. Sandoval's original instructions to NSHE were to plan for budget cuts up to five percent, or up to $55 million over the biennium. Those cuts were not included in the governor's Executive Budget.
"The Nevada Board of Regents worked closely with our eight institutions in a deliberative process to create a funding request that would provide a strong return to citizens of Nevada for every dollar invested in higher education," said Board of Regents Chairman Rick Trachok. "We look forward to sustaining that strong partnership with Gov. Sandoval and our legislative leaders as we continue to build our state's workforce and economic engine."
"We are grateful to the governor for including a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of two percent for all state employees in FY 2018 and an additional two percent in FY 2019, including NSHE professional and classified staff. The recommending funding of merit-based step increases for classified staff is appreciated," added Chancellor White.
Gov. Sandoval once again built his NSHE budget on the performance-based formula enacted by the 2013 Nevada Legislature. NSHE's institutions graduated more students and students completed more programs, resulting in 186,117 more weighted credit hours in FY 2016 which generates $57.16 million in additional funding over the next biennium.
The governor also demonstrated his ongoing support for the development of the UNLV medical school. As requested by the Board of Regents, the build-out of the medical school will continue in FY 2018 with an additional appropriation of $2.27 million over the FY 2017 base amount of $19.57 million for a total state commitment of $21.84 million. In FY 2019, there will be an additional appropriation of $10.74 million for a total state commitment of $32.58 million.
In addition, Gov. Sandoval put forth several recommended enhancements to the NSHE budget, with all of the Board of Regents' enhancement requests moving forward. These include:
CTE Weight Increases - Community Colleges: Enhance the formula weights for Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses in the Weighted Student Credit Hour formula for the College of Southern Nevada, Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows Community College, and Western Nevada College. This amounts to $9.18 million in FY 2018 and $12.24 million in FY 2019.
Capacity Building - All Institutions: Approximately $10 million in FY 2019 for the expansion of programs directly related to workforce and economic development in Nevada.
DRI Cloud Seeding: Restores the DRI Cloud Seeding program with an annual budget allocation of $683,000 per year.
Silver State Opportunity Grant (SSOG): Increases the current funding levels from $2.5 million per year to $5 million per year. In addition, Gov. Sandoval has requested the program be made permanent.
DRI Formula Adjustment: The governor included a technical adjustment in the DRI formula calculation in the amount of $195,000 in FY 2018 and $198,000 in FY 2019.
"The Nevada System of Higher Education has worked diligently to be an effective and efficient resource for taxpayer and student funds," said Chairman Trachok. "The budget Governor Sandoval presented tonight acknowledges the importance of public higher education. We look forward to the upcoming session and working with Gov. Sandoval and the Legislature to build the economic, scientific, and cultural engine of Nevada."
About the Nevada System of Higher Education The Nevada System of Higher Education -- comprised of two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute -- serves the educational and job training needs of Nevada. NSHE provides educational opportunities to more than 107,400 students and is governed by the Nevada Board of Regents.