1 - State of Nevada WICHE

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State of Nevada WICHE Commission Meeting
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
State of Nevada Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
Commission Meeting
Minutes for September 17, 2014
Disc 1, File #3
In Attendance:
Vic Redding – Executive Commissioner, Nevada WICHE
Vance Farrow – Commissioner, Nevada WICHE
Jeannine Warner – Director, Nevada WICHE
Dana Westre – Accountant Technician, Nevada WICHE
Gregg Ott – Deputy Attorney General (DAG), Office of the Attorney General, State of Nevada
Call to order. The meeting was called to order by Commissioner Redding at 2:02 p.m.
Public comment. There was no public comment.
Discussion, recommendations, and action regarding minutes for the September 17,
2014 meeting. Minutes were reviewed. There were no questions. Commissioner Farrow
moved for approval. Commissioner Redding seconded. Motion Approved.
Review of Fiscal Year 2014 year-end reports. Ms. Sherrick began with the Income
Statement and stated, per the legislative Letter of Intent (LOI), there is a balance forward
into Fiscal Year 2015 of $33,587 to be applied to the Loan Repayment program. The
reversion amount for cash receipts was $142,495. Commissioner Redding asked Ms.
Warner if she has spoken to the budget analyst about the reversion; the situation that there
are reversions then money drawn back again in the next session. Ms. Warner stated she can
do that. Commissioner Redding stated there have been discussions between Ms. Warner
and himself about this. It is an interesting dynamic because a substantial portion of the
budget is funded with repayments, and if the repayments come in excess of authorized
revenue, it is just returned back to the General Fund. He suggested reminding them at the
appropriate time when asking for more General Fund.
Ms. Warner next discussed the collections report. She stated the format is new. In the past,
the commission had been provided too much detail. This report is more precise and
incorporates some new, positive data. Information presented included the number of
accounts in good standing and their combined annual repayment amount; new accounts in
collection in the previous fiscal year; the number and total of former collections accounts,
which have been forwarded to the State Controller’s office for collection efforts; and,
collection accounts resolved since 2010. Ms. Westre stated 2 were paid through
collections, and 2 were pulled from collections and are paying through WICHE. This new
format will be provided on an annual basis. Both Commissioners Redding and Farrow
stated they like the format. Commissioner Redding asked what the threshold is that moves
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someone from good standing to collections. Ms. Westre answered past 120 days, and if
there is no co-signer response.
Ms. Warner next presented the FY 2014 matrix, which reflects the approved versus actual
slots funded. The approved slots for the year are 87, and she was happy to report the actual
funded were 87. For reference, in Fiscal Year 2013, 10 slots went unfunded with a revenue
shortage of $118,000; in Fiscal Year 2012, 29 slots went unfunded; and, in Fiscal Year
2011, 37 slots went unfunded. There were no further questions on the agenda item.
Discussion, recommendation, and action regarding the Nevada WICHE Strategic
Plan, Transfer Memo, and Organizational Chart. Commissioner Redding began by
stating he is not sure how much of the transfer history Commission Farrow has knowledge
of, and wanted to put on official record the following review: Through Fiscal Year 2009,
the WICHE Commission was a standalone commission like many others that exist in the
state. There was a recessionary period in Nevada, and at that time the Governor’s
Recommended Budget came out for the 2009-2011 biennium. One of the recommendations
from the Governor’s office was to move the WICHE Commission under the offices of the
NSHE. The Governor’s recommendation went a little further and eliminated the WICHE
budget accounts and moved the funds under the NSHE budget accounts. It also eliminated
the executive director and put the accountant technician position to part-time. The
commission re-crafted that position during the session and eliminated a vacant program
officer position instead. He added that the Transfer Memo outlines his perspective as to
what happened, both as an NSHE employee as well as his experience on the commission,
but mostly what did not happen during that transition. During the recession, things were
moving very quickly, no one knew where the bottom was, and there were a lot of actions
that did not receive the level of analysis they would have been given if they were done
today. WICHE’s transfer falls under that category.
To summarize the mechanics of the transaction as he understands them, the “transfer
document” was created. It still says “draft”, which was intentional because there are a lot of
people who have perspective on this and need to have input. The reason the transfer seems
to be an issue now is because it was brought to our attention at the last commission meeting
via an organizational chart, which is part of the required documents for the biennial budget
request, that there are questions regarding the organizational structure and where the
commission fits. He realized the details of the transfer had never been flushed out in the
subsequent correspondence. The WICHE counsel who is here in attendance has agreed that
nothing ever formally identified the duties the commission has under statute and the duties
the NSHE has under legislative intent. Hopefully, no conflict exists between those two.
Commissioner Redding stated a couple of the big issues not formally addressed or
discussed are the reporting lines for the WICHE staff, who are now NSHE employees and
receive their paychecks from the Board of Regents but still have the responsibilities to
support the commission as it executes its statutory duty. There is also a discussion that
needs to be had regarding the funds. The funds are currently appropriated to the Board of
Regents through the Appropriations Act. It is very clear that the funds are appropriated to
the Board of Regents, and the WICHE agency is now part of the NSHE agency in the state
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accounting system. But no one ever had the discussion of who actually approves purchase
orders, etc., what are those types of responsibilities that the Board of Regents has when the
funds are appropriated to them but the commission is actually making the programmatic
decisions. Those types of things were never discussed and probably should be discussed.
He wanted to put another idea on the table and see what Commissioner Farrow’s feelings
are. The reason that this was done very quickly in advance of the 2009 session was the
State had significant budget issues. Some restructuring within the WICHE staff occurred,
and there was also concern over the large amount of collections WICHE was carrying on
their books at that time. He stated he believes those circumstances no longer exist. So,
before there is the discussion on how the details of the transfer should be represented and
formalized, the discussion should be had if this is the right structure for the WICHE
commission, the WICHE programs, and the State of Nevada. This is September of an evennumbered year coming in to the 2015 session and happens to be the biennial window
where, if this is not the optimal structure, there is still time to work with the Governor’s
office and the legislature. Commissioner Redding went on to say he has spoken with David
Longanecker, the President of the WICHE Compact, and Nevada is the only WICHE state
that has their WICHE program under another entity such as higher education, with the
exception of Hawaii; their WICHE program is under what would be the equivalent of
Nevada’s Office on Post-Secondary Education. The discussion points to asking staff to take
a step backwards and look at if this is the correct structure for the Nevada WICHE
Commission. The alternative would be to keep the current structure and formalize the
details that were not done 5 years ago.
Commissioner Farrow thanked Commissioner Redding for the background information. He
asked, prior to 2009 and prior to the economic recession the state went through, if whether
or not the existence of the WICHE outside of the NSHE umbrella was seen as a good thing.
And, given the nice relationship it has with the NSHE, what are the pros and cons to a
separation? Commissioner Redding stated that is an excellent question and he would like to
see it thoroughly evaluated and put on the table. The commission may be the trendsetters,
or it may not be following best practices. Commissioner Farrow asked, with regards to the
relationships the other WICHE offices have with their regents or chancellors or however
that works, is there one category under which the commission would have more benefit?
He is wondering what the WICHE stands to gain from a separation. Does a separation
allow more lateral movement? Is the commission more nimble separated? Are there things
the commission can do if independent versus the current situation? What are the benefits if
the commission looks to pursue separation?
Commissioner Redding stated those are all good questions, and it would be worthwhile to
invest time to bring answers back to the commission with pros and cons of both separating
from or remaining with the NSHE. Staff can ask other regional program officers what they
have that Nevada does not, and vise versa. Staff can utilize their experience when they
were with the commission when it stood alone. If the analysis shows being under the
NSHE is the best structure then a lot of the homework will be done for a Memo of
Understanding (MOU). The NSHE legal counsel and the WICHE’s counsel would have to
assist. If the analysis comes back that being under the NSHE would not be the optimal
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structure, then the commission will have the discussion with the Budget Division on
potentially moving something different forward. He does not at all see this as a
controversial subject. He put his NSHE hat on and stated the NSHE is completely neutral
on the concept, and is happy to facilitate that collaboration however they can if the
commission were to decide to stay housed within the NSHE. If the commission determines
being housed within NHSE is not the optimal structure, the NSHE is certainly happy to
support that, as well. He has had that discussion with the Chancellor and, formally, it
would have to go to the Board of Regents. However, the NSHE would not have an issue
with this either way. Commissioner Farrow stated he thinks that speaks to the relationship
the commission and staff has with the NSHE. One other point Commissioner Farrow
wanted to raise in this consideration, because he does not want to look at this from a
singular perspective as a commissioner and how WICHE operates, but also the staff that
are involved in this and whether or not being under the NSHE umbrella finds them certain
benefits that they normally would not have if they were not a part of that system. He would
also like to know how a separation would impact them, as well as the WICHE as an entity.
Commissioner Redding suggested to also look at the fiscal note on this. The operating
budget, as he recalls, was not changed when the WICHE came into the NSHE so
presumably it still should be whole but, of course, costs have changed over six years, so he
thinks the fiscal note would need to be evaluated, as well. He asked how long staff has
been with the commission. Staff answered they have both been with the WICHE
Commission for 10 years.
Commissioner Farrow asked, is the notion that if the WICHE separates from the NSHE,
does that automatically mean the commission has to find a director for the WICHE?
Commissioner Redding answered no. The old format had the director as unclassified.
When Ms. Warner came in she came in as classified. The NSHE has “professional” rather
than “unclassified” titles, and Ms. Warner’s status was changed to the exempt director
position. The NSHE replaced the previous director with Ms. Warner. It is the middle
[program officer] position that was eliminated. Staffing will be something that has to be
addressed in the analysis. WICHE was a 3.5 FTE staffed operation before it came into the
NSHE, but a .5 position was vacant and, therefore, technically at 3.0 FTE. Now, it is at 2.0
FTE. He believes a very fundamental question is can this transfer be done cost-neutral
within the budget and, if not, what type of incremental costs would incur.
Ms. Warner stated there will be an analysis of pros and cons logistics, staff and fiscal
impacts. The pros and cons might be more “if this, then that” scenarios. Ms. Warner stated
historical financial information is available to reference what it will cost administratively.
Commissioner Redding stated the NSHE legal counsel is aware this discussion was going
to take place and is happy to help. WICHE staff can utilize resources from his staff, if
needed. Ms. Sakelarios of the NSHE would be happy to help with the legislative history.
Commissioner Redding stated Ms. Warner can ask WICHE’s budget analyst what the dropdead date would be, should the commission want to take this action. He does not want to
miss the deadline.
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Commissioner Redding asked how quickly staff can pull this information together. It was
agreed a tentative 10:00 a.m. meeting on October 6, 2014, will be scheduled and staff will
present findings at that meeting.
Discussion, recommendations, and action regarding Nevada WICHE’s legislative
Letter of Intent (LOI), dated August 29, 2013 – request for renewal and possible
modifications including, but not limited to, potential options for avoiding excess
General Fund support and reversion. Ms. Warner stated in the August 29, 2013, LOI,
the staff recommends removal of the last sentence because it authorizes a balance forward
of funds specifically to the HCAP Loan Repayment program. However, because the
commission is proposing to eliminate that program, it will no longer be applicable. There
was just a discussion about reverting $142,000, so this would be the time to address the
reversion situation and potentially put that into the letter. At this point, only the removal of
the one sentence has been recommended. Commissioner Redding asked, by eliminating
that last sentence, that any of the forwarded funds collected after May 15th which could not
be expended would be applied to any of the WICHE programs? Ms. Warner answered that
is the intent, to apply it generally across programs. Both Commissioners agreed this is a
good idea. Commissioner Farrow moved to accept the letter as stated with the last sentence
removed to allow the commission better leverage and flexibility. Commissioner Redding
seconded. Motion approved.
Discussion, recommendations, and action regarding Nevada WICHE’s Loan &
Stipend Budget request for the 2015-2017 biennium including final review of incentive
programs and health care fields, slots for support, and amounts of financial support.
Ms. Sherrick stated this agenda item is in follow-up to a request from the last meeting. The
commission requested to see a matrix with “TBD” in the PhD nursing slots. The revised
matrix has been provided for review.
Since the last meeting, Laura Hale with the Division of Health provided a letter of support
to break down some of the nursing numbers, so also provided is a second matrix with the
estimated numbers from Ms. Hale. These are estimates only. They provide an idea of the
dollar amounts and slot numbers they are anticipating for mental health nursing.
Commissioner Redding asked if the biennial budget request matrix is flexible enough that,
should these numbers change, WICHE is not going to be constrained, that there will be
flexibility enough to accommodate more or less. Ms. Warner answered yes, the submitted
matrix will be the TBD numbers with the $62,500 and $50,000 totals. Commissioner
Farrow asked this is just an example of what it could look like; the staff answered yes. Ms.
Warner asked the commission to approve the TBD matrix for the budget. Commission
Farrow moved to accept the biennial budget matrix as presented with the TBD to increase
flexibility until Ms. Hale’s office is able to come up with exact support numbers.
Commissioner Redding seconded. Motion approved.
Director’s Report. Update on pharmacy recipient C. Black’s default on service
requirement, and 2014 1st and 2nd quarter calendar. Ms. Warner stated the pharmacy
recipient C. Black is being brought back to the commission to provide closure on his
situation. This is the individual who did not pass his boards for pharmacy. The account
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did not go to collections. A lump sum of $29,942 was paid and the account was closed.
The co-signer who paid off the account wanted to pass along that she is extremely grateful
for the resolution and to finally close this and move on. Commissioner Redding asked if
this payoff was part of the $142,000 reversion. Ms. Westre answered yes.
Ms. Warner stated the WICHE budget hearing is scheduled for September 25, 2014. She
presented the quarterly calendars for the 1st and 2nd quarters. There were no questions.
New Business. There was no new business.
Public Comment. There was no public comment.
Adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 2:45p.m.
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