A little more state cuts for higher education at the holidays. From the Las Vegas Sun comes news that with declining revenues the governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, plans on making new funding cuts to state agencies:

With more budget cuts anticipated, state agency heads and advocates for services are preparing to make their cases on why they should be spared the ax this time.

The answer to one key question might help decide what gets cut among K-12, higher education, social services and public safety agencies:

Which agencies over the past two years of falling state tax revenue and budget cuts have reduced their spending the most?

First, he asked departments to prepare 1.4 percent and 3 percent. A few weeks later, he raised it to 6 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent, which would amount to as much as $437 million in cuts from March 2010 to June 2011.

Note that the governor is not, apparently, making spending decisions based on, say, the importance or effectiveness of the actual programs. There will be no blanket cuts across the state so the governor’s request is likely to foster competition between the agencies.

According to the article, Nevada Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich earlier sent a letter to the governor protesting further cuts and pointing out that higher education has so far faced most of the cuts in state money:

“I know you will keep in mind that no major agency budget took a larger and more disproportionate cut than did the (Nevada System of Higher Education) last session,” Klaich wrote in the Dec. 8 letter. “In fact, at least one major state agency budget increased above last biennium’s levels, and all others absorbed smaller cuts than did NSHE.”

Students at public colleges in Nevada protested the governor’s attempt to cut funding for higher education a year ago. Nevada is facing a budget shortfall of about $67 million due to reduced property and sales tax revenue. State funding for K-12 education in Nevada increased almost 10 percent in 2009.Unlike many states Nevada has no personal or corporate income tax.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer