Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education

Senate Bill 443 of the 1999 Legislative Session


Mission:  The Committee shall compare the existing method of funding higher education in Nevada with the methods used in other states and determine whether the other methods would be appropriate and useful in Nevada.


Higher education funding formulas developed in 1986 served their purpose well.  However, as witnessed by the spirited debate during the 1999 legislative session, funding methodologies have not adapted to the explosive growth experienced on several UCCSN campuses.  The UCCSN-commissioned equity funding study completed in May 1999, reported funding inequities among the campuses.  


Senate Bill 443 of the 1999 Legislative session created the Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education and appropriated $150,000 to conduct the study.  The committee will build upon the results of the previous equity study and will redefine the funding formulas necessary to guide UCCSN in the future.  The Committee is working to ensure that new formulas will be both flexible and equitable to all institutions involved.  The Committee must submit a report to the Legislative Commission prior to the commencement of the 71st session of the Legislature.


The Committee has met four times with the first meeting occurring on October 27, 1999 and the most recent meeting on March 2, 2000.  Much activity has occurred in this brief time span.  The Committee has hired two independent consultants and has also assigned a working group of UCCSN, LCB and Budget Division staff to provide analytical and data gathering support. 


The first consultant, Dr. William Pickens, is gathering data on higher education funding formulas used by other states.  On or before March 31, 2000, Dr. Pickens will provide executive summaries and comprehensive explanations of formula methodologies used in 29 formula states.  Upon receipt of Dr. Pickens’ report, the committee will consider formulas that may be suitable for the State of Nevada.  As a secondary task, Dr. Pickens has completed and presented a nationwide comparative analysis of state and local appropriations for higher education.


The second consultant, Dr. Larry Leslie, is identifying a group of peers for the seven UCCSN institutions.  Dr. Leslie will locate comparable institutions from states and local communities whose ability to support public higher education, and whose economies and populations are relatively similar.  The primary basis for comparison is similarity in program responsibilities.  Dr. Leslie has presented potential peer reports at the January 27, 2000, and March 2, 2000, committee meetings.  The Committee has discussed, but has taken no action on Dr. Leslie’s recommendations..


Concurrent with the work of the consultants, the staff working group is independently preparing a report of savings incentives plans, comparative library data, and formula modification recommendations.  All deliverable deadlines to date have been met.  The committee will likely meet two more times prior to finalizing its report.  The committee hopes to complete its work by the end of May 2000 so that the results can be incorporated into UCCSN’s budget process.