Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2019

Currently: 85° — Complete forecast

Colleges directed to make up funding shortfall for pay raises

The Nevada Board of Regents is asking college presidents to find a combined $6.4 million in their budgets to cover a funding shortfall and provide employees a full 3% cost of living raise.

Because of an accounting error, the Legislature only allocated the Nevada System of Higher Education enough money to cover a 2.4% increase. The regents voted 7-5 today to direct the institutions to cover the .6% shortfall.

The presidents and chancellor will have until December to come up with a plan, which could include hiring freezes, budget reductions and reallocations of student fee revenue.

“These recommendations are intended to give the presidents flexibility on how to bridge the shortfall according to the budgets and immediate needs of the respective institutions,” Chancellor Tom Reilly said.

Regents Rick Trachok and Trevor Hayes, however, questioned the legality of providing raises above those funded by the state.

“It’s my opinion in reading this statute, an opinion that I strongly hold, that we do not have the power and in fact it would be unlawful for us as a board to authorize a pay raise in excess of the money that was allocated by this law,” Trachok said.

But the general counsel for the board, Joe Reynolds, said regents could legally take action. “It’s my opinion that that’s not contrary to law, but actually it would be giving effect to the intent of the Legislature by law,” he said.

NSHE faculty and staff said the raise is needed.

Donna Healy, a representative of the Staff Employees’ Council at UNR, cited Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers showing the state’s increasing cost of living.

“With Nevada’s rapid pace of economic growth, that rate of cost of living expense is likely to be a trend continuing into the future,” she said. “At our current rates of pay, the majority of the state of Nevada workforce will struggle to keep up with their everyday expenses, such as food, housing, childcare, medical expenses and transportation.”