One of the most important relationships in Nevada higher education is that between the legislature and the board of regents. The legislature has the responsibility to adequately fund our schools and the board makes policy and oversees the governance of the schools. Just a few short years ago, the leadership of our higher education system deliberately misled legislators when they were debating making changes to the higher education funding formula. The fallout from that is still felt today and there is palpable tension and mistrust of NSHE by the legislature. This isn’t good for students and it isn’t good for our state.
As a result, the legislature has debated and unanimously passed Assembly Joint Resolution 5 which seeks to remove the constitutional standing of the board of regents and make their power statutory. This is a good governance question that I support.
As I attended school, I was taught that there are only three branches of government: the legislative, executive and judicial branches. However, due to the special constitutional standing of the regents in Nevada, some regents and NSHE counsel have acted as if they are a 4th branch of government and on the same level as the other branches. It is time to correct this misperception.
AJR 5 makes a simple change that removes the regents from the constitution. It does not take away the voice of the voters in electing their regents. It does not change the size of the board. It does not create multiple different boards that oversee each school individually. It simply allows us to take a fresh look at the way we have structured higher education governance in Nevada.
Approving AJR 5 at the ballot is only one step in rebuilding the relationship with the legislature, electing new regents that have already established trust with our legislators is another. I have over a decade of experience working for, and with, the legislature on legislation improving our education system, energy issues, business issues and even voting laws. The relationships that I have built with our lawmakers in Carson City can help restore trust in the regents.