Chancellor Rogers to Blast Governor's Budget in Speech

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada's public education system is a
"disaster" and is certain to deteriorate more under budget cuts
proposed by Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons, Chancellor Jim Rogers said
Thursday.

Rogers outlined a grim picture of the public school system and
issued a scathing critique of Nevada's commitment to education in
remarks released in advance of a "state of the system" speech.
Rogers, who as chancellor oversees the state's universities and
community college system, will air his speech Friday on television
stations he owns in Reno, Las Vegas and Elko.

"Every one of the proposed cuts will ultimately destroy your
children's chance to be well-educated," he said.

His blunt and biting remarks directly answered Gibbons' recent
State of the State speech, in which the governor defended a budget
proposal that cuts funding for higher education by 36 percent and
slashes pay for all the state's teachers by 6 percent.

Nevada is facing a massive budget shortage because the tourism
industry's slowdown and a housing crisis have battered the state's
primary sources of tax revenue. Gibbons plans to raise taxes on
hotel rooms, but has said he will not consider other tax increases.

Rogers, who endorsed Gibbons' bid for office once he was assured
of the governor's commitment to schools, has become a regular
critic of the governor, his budget priorities and his no-tax
pledge.

"We cannot cut our way out of this problem," Rogers said.
"New funding can be found that will not drag down the economy."

But Gibbons wasn't the only one Rogers blamed. The millionaire businessman took Nevadans to task for not valuing education. Whereas Nevadans once hoped to see their kids go
to college, he said parents today are satisfied if their children
graduate from eighth grade.

Only one in 10 Nevada ninth-graders will graduate from college,
Rogers said.

"The state of K-16 education in Nevada is where the public,
that is you there, has allowed it to sink. Your only relationship
with the education system is to ship your unprepared kids to
school, not with the expectation of success, but with the demand
that an education system - inadequately funded - develop and/or
repair children that you as a parent did not prepare," he said.
"It is the public - that means you - that has created this
disaster of a public education system."

Rogers said Gibbons' cuts left the state's higher education
system with several "unworkable" options. It could close the
College of Southern Nevada and Great Basin College. It could close
the University of Nevada, Reno and the community colleges in
northern Nevada. Or it could close the University of Nevada, Las
Vegas and Nevada State College.

Rogers opposed the options as well as any large fee increases at
Nevada colleges.

"The college door must be kept open for young people who cannot
afford even today's level of tuition and fees," he said. "But
with large increases in tuition and fees and no increase in
scholarships, Nevada may be guaranteeing itself a loss of an entire
educated generation."

Rogers' speech is scheduled to air 7 p.m. Friday on KVBC in Las
Vegas, KRNV in Reno and KENV in Elko. In Las Vegas, the program
also will include remarks from Clark County School District
Superintendent Walt Rulffes. Paul Dugan, superintendent for Washoe
County School District, will speak in Reno.

Rulffes and Dugan have not released their remarks.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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