University faculty and staff in Nevada will be getting the full 3 percent increase promised to them on July 1 even though the State Legislature didn’t allocate enough money to pay for the entire amount of the pay increase. The Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education voted Tuesday to provide the full raise. It told the presidents of the eight institutions of higher education in the state to somehow squeeze $6.4 million out of their current budgets to cover the amount that wasn’t funded by the Legislature.
“We will be discussing how to best fund this unfunded mandate with Faculty Senate and administrators of our colleges and divisions. The presidents of all of the NSHE member institutions are to report back by December to the Board of Regents about their plans to bridge this gap,” he wrote in an email to staff.
That might include hiring freezes, cuts in operating budgets, reallocation of student fees or other steps at each individual institution, said Chancellor Thom Reilly.
Johnson said UNR would not increase student fees to cover the shortfall.
Higher education officials announced after lawmakers had gone home at the end of this year’s legislative session that an apparent miscalculation in the state’s spending bill left them without enough money to pay for the raises.
The Regents were divided on Reilly’s plan to move forward with the full amount of the raises. Seven of the 13 members of the board voted for its approval — a bare majority.
Leading the opposition was Regent Rick Trachok, a Reno attorney who cautioned that the Regents might be violating state law if they approved raises larger than those allocated by the Legislature.
But Joe Reynolds, the legal counsel to the Board of Regents, disagreed with Trachok. He said the plan to provide the full raise allowed the Regents to fulfill the intentions of legislators despite the miscalculation.
Representatives of faculty and staff organizations urged the Regents to approve the full raise.
Donna Healy, representing the Staff and Employees Council at UNR, noted that living costs in Nevada increased by 2.9 percent last year, and costs are continuing to climb.
“At our rates of pay, the majority of the state of Nevada workers will struggle to keep up with their everyday expenses,” Healy said.
Janice McKay, chair of the Faculty Senate at UNLV, said the state government’s budget missteps generated bad morale on her campus.
“They have created a perception of state indifference towards higher education in general — faculty and research in particular,” McKay said.