Priorities must be set in tough times

In the age of Myspace and Facebook, spattering one’s opinion across the net has become easy to do, and the opinions are easy to access.

In looking at the “groups” on these sites, it’s apparent college students are making clear their opinions on the issues at hand. One of the major issues among college students at UNR is the budget cuts on higher education. A group on Facebook named The Nevada Higher Education Budget Cuts are Threatening my Future has been flooded with students who are so far left they think they deserve the extra money. They plainly don’t understand what the budget cuts are about.

The group’s membership is soaring, almost reaching 500 members. These kids want to stand for something, but they don’t seem to know what.

Another major issue that people are focused on—not just in the college realm but across the nation—is the economy. Our nation is struggling to bring the economy back up and level it off. There are ongoing battles with gas prices and the housing market, and people are struggling.

With such problems, the most logical answer is to cut spending. Be smarter with money. Yes, it is a struggle, but the way to fix a broken budget is not to spend more money.

Having this in mind, it’s not logical to be angry about the Nevada Legislature cutting the higher education budget. The percentage they are cutting is from a recent increase in the higher education budget.

But students want a better economy and more money for their education. In the short run, they can’t have both.

To increase the economy’s future viability, we have to deal with the cutbacks as they come. And it so happens that the higher education system is one of the areas that requires cutting; it’s necessary. On the bright side, with the decrease in enrollment at Nevada schools, now is the most convenient time to face a budget cut.

Our state is in a tight crunch with around a $1 billion budget shortfall. Where should the cuts come from if not higher education?

If we took more away from road maintenance, for example, then the community would complain about the roads they have to drive on. But regardless of where the cuts are made, college-aged citizens would find something to complain about. But they can’t have it both ways. We must set a priority and try to fix one or the other: the budget shortfall or the education budget. Those who want to fix the economy shouldn’t complain that the government is trying to cut back to prevent waste, or if higher education is the priority, the debt-based economy—with its promise of a time of reckoning in the future—shouldn’t be whined about.

Nevada’s economy faces extreme debt and budget shortfalls. This has to be corrected by cutting back where possible—or there won’t be jobs for college students when we graduate. Because the state’s education system is seeing less enrollment, this is the best time to cut back. To focus on the cutbacks is the wrong thing to do. Each of us must look at the big picture and decide where our priorities lie. In looking at the health of the state as a whole, I know and trust that temporarily cutting the higher education budget is the right thing to do.