RAN Supports Ballot Question 1

Ballot Question 1, also known as the “Nevada Higher Education Reform, Accountability, and Oversight Amendment,” will provide accountability and transparency to higher education governance and deliver a system that Nevada’s taxpayers and students deserve. It ensures that the higher education bureaucracy and the Board of Regents are accountable to the other branches of government, just as K-12 education, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and every other taxpayer-funded entity in Nevada, are held accountable. And it ensures academic freedom remains strong in Nevada’s higher education system.

Higher education governance in Nevada is broken. There is no accountability or transparency. Century-old law prevents the people’s branch of government from checking and balancing the Board of Regents, leading to government waste and mismanagement. Time and time again, even with bipartisan consensus for reform, accountability, and transparency, the Board of Regents has remained insulated from any real accountability and typical checks and balances. As a result, the Board of Regents continually thumbed its nose at conducting itself in an appropriate fashion—including misleading the people of Nevada about taxpayer resources. Voting YES on Ballot Question 1 this November – will restore accountability and oversight to higher education in Nevada.

States with similar populations, including Virginia, have five times the number of colleges, but about one-third the number of employees at the system level compared to the Nevada System of Higher Education. Even now, in the midst of one of the most fiscally challenging times in our state’s history, the Board of Regents approved a large six-figure salary and yearly allowances in the thousands of dollars for housing, a car, and a “host account” for the new chancellor. By the terms of the contract, the “host account” can be used for meals and lodging (including for spouses in some cases) when “representing” NSHE. Meanwhile, even though Nevada spends $1 billion per biennium on higher education, placing it 16th nationally in per-student funding, we rank 46th in student attainment. And the graduation rates at all of Nevada’s colleges are below the national average.

Question 1 will not change the day-to-day operation of higher education. Nevada law will still require that the Board of Regents be elected and oversee higher education. But it will provide accountability and transparency through independent oversight. With better accountability and transparency in place, Nevada will be better able to refocus on the priorities of higher education in our state: serving students, economic diversification, creating a 21st century workforce, and advancing the pursuit of knowledge.

Question 1’s accountability, transparency, and oversight provisions are supported by a broad coalition of Nevadans. Question 1, then AJR5 of the 2017 legislative session, passed overwhelmingly with broad bipartisan support. We join many other business groups including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Vegas Chamber, the Nevada Manufacturers Association, the Nevada Contractors Association, and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, with more to come. It is supported by prominent Nevadans across the state such as in Elko, Fallon, West Winnemucca, Carson City, Reno, and Las Vegas. And it is supported by former higher education officials, such as former college presidents, current faculty, students, and alumni who personally understand the stakes. This coalition is so broad because at its core, Question 1 simply restores fundamental principles of American government.

We urge a vote in favor of Question 1. For more information, please visit https://www.yeson1forhighereducation.com.