Nevada governor criticizes regents over budget |

Nevada governor criticizes regents over budget

The Associated Press

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons has criticized the Nevada Board of Regents’ request for a higher-education budget increase, saying it flies in the face of the state’s budget crisis.

Gibbons said regents are “obviously calling for the moon” in asking for the increase at a time when other state agencies are facing spending cuts.

The proposed two-year budget tentatively supported by regents last week ignores Gibbons’ request to cut spending by 14 percent and seeks a 9.75 percent increase.

“I have to give them credit for being aggressive,” Gibbons told the Nevada Appeal. “I do not see really being able to meet their requested increase this time.

“I’m bound by the law, which says we have to comply with the recommendations of the Economic Forum,” he said.

In June, the panel found the state faces a nearly $1.2 billion revenue shortfall by mid-2009.

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The Republican governor must accept the forum’s projections that will be made this fall as he finalizes a budget plan for the 2009 Legislature, and lawmakers must accept an update from the forum before they adjourn.

At a meeting last week in Reno, some regents said they think it’s their responsibility to submit a budget based on what the system needs instead of what the governor wants.

Regents’ final action on the budget is expected Aug. 21, about a week before they must submit the spending plan to the state budget office.

“We are going to sit down, and we will work with the chancellor and the Board of Regents to see how we can accommodate their ideas,” Gibbons said.

At the same time, the governor praised state Board of Education budget proposals calling for no pay raises for teachers, no signing bonuses and no extra funding for at-risk schools.

“I think they see the reality of what we’re dealing with, which is that the economy doesn’t support what we’ve done in the past,” Gibbons said.