Message from the governor

That was a shot across the bow by Gov. Kenny Guinn the other day.

Guinn fired off a letter to Jane Nichols, interim chancellor for the University and Community College System of Nevada, saying he wouldn't accept a $1.14 billion budget.

The budget would represent a 28 percent increase, Guinn said, at a time he has instructed state departments to not increase spending.

In particular, the governor said, he didn't intend to waste time trimming budgets the way he did prior to the 1999 legislative session, when he found some $1 billion in fat in state agencies' requests.

"I do not intend to, this year, allow a similar waste of time and effort on the part of the agencies themselves, my office, or the budget division," the governor wrote.

For her part, Nichols responded by saying Guinn's criticism was"premature" because the Board of Regents had not yet made its own cuts on the universities' and colleges' requests.

And, she noted, the schools are growing. "My understanding is the governor certainly wants to fund our growth but first wants to see what we would do with what we have," Nichols said.

Perhaps the university system became an unwitting target, but Guinn certainly made his point.

If there were any agencies out there wondering if they would be able to slip a few extras into the budget without Guinn noticing, they might want to think again.

The odd thing about Guinn's choice is that the university system is not one of his agencies. The elected Board of Regents governs the state's colleges and universities, and it can take any budget it wants to the Legislature.

Nevertheless, Guinn has set the tone - efficient, effective government that can justify the dollars it spends. It's a tone he expects all tax-supported bodies to follow, and one we expect the Legislature to follow as well.


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