NV Legislators Tackle College Cuts in Large Group

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - College and university cuts that prompted a major student protest in March are up for review among all legislators, although Republicans have shown no signs yet of backing down from their support of the governor's budget.

The Assembly and Senate are meeting separately Friday as Committees of the Whole to look at the $162 million in reductions Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed for the Nevada System
of Higher Education.

Smaller committees typically approve budgets and then present a final version to the full Senate and Assembly for a vote. Meeting as a large group allows legislators who are not on money committees to ask questions and debate the cuts; it also puts pressure on lawmakers by forcing them to vote on the record.

But Committees of the Whole held earlier this week on K-12 education budgets failed to bring Republicans to a compromise.
Republicans told Democratic leaders they would stand by the governor's recommendations at least until they saw Democrats' specific suggestions for tax increases, if not longer.

Sandoval has said he will veto any bills for a tax increase. While Democrats control both houses of the legislature, they do not have enough votes to override a veto and would need Republican buy-in to pass a tax.

Proposed cuts to higher education include consolidating schools and eliminating academic programs. At University of Nevada, Reno, 315 staff and faculty positions and eight majors would be eliminated. University of Nevada, Las Vegas would lose 355 staff and faculty positions and 36 academic programs.

Community colleges would have to reduce the number of spaces for
students, and satellite campuses would close. The cuts come as
student tuition and fees are expected to rise 12 to 13 percent each of the next two years, and employees see a 5 percent pay cut.

Hundreds of college students from around Nevada converged at the
state Legislature March 21 to speak to the governor and rally against the budget plan.