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May 5, 2015

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Legislators fail to make cuts in higher education budget

A budget hearing has been rescheduled for Monday

Legislators failed to reach an agreement Friday morning over how much to cut the higher education system's budget and rescheduled a budget hearing for Monday.

After the "core group" of legislators met this morning behind closed doors to discuss the budget, Dan Klaich, executive vice chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, was told to go home. Gov. Jim Gibbons' budget called for a 36 percent cut to spending on the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Klaich said he was holding out for a 10 percent cut, and said a cut of 15 percent would be "devastating. It would fundamentally change campuses and services that are offered."

Some legislators, who want to avoid a higher tax increase, are looking at 15 to 20 percent, according to sources. Jim Richardson, Nevada Faculty Alliance lobbyist, said each percentage point is worth between $6.7-$8 million.

Legislators of the "core group" refused to answer questions and referred reporters to Speaker Barbara Buckley. Buckley would only say lawmakers would be closing higher education's budget on Monday afternoon.

"We want to roll back as much of the governor's cuts as we can," she said. Staff was still crunching numbers, she said. She said the cuts right now are "in the teens."

Asked about Jim Rogers statement on Jon Ralston's "Face to Face" program that he thinks the cut could be as little as 10 percent, Buckley said she would have no further comment.

Buckley has said a tax plan and spending plan has to be passed by the Legislature by May 21st to give lawmakers enough time to override Gov. Jim Gibbons' expected veto. The session is slated to end on June 1.

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