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CIVIL WAR of the Silver State | P3 | Political pressure placed on Nevada lawmakers

Reported by: Reed Cowan
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Updated: 2/21 9:09 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Should money generated in Las Vegas stay there?

That question is the focal point of a series of News 3 reports examining whether northern lawmakers give too much southern money to colleges and universities up north.

Critics of northern lawmakers who say UNR is the favored institution, say you don’t have to go any further than UNLV’s campus to see that something is wrong and has been for a long time.

UNR’s campus is bigger by thousands of square feet, even though UNR has fewer students. This is just one of many examples critics say exist to prove a years-long funding inequity benefiting northern campuses.

Many examples, says UNLV Provost Jon White, can be seen all over his campus.

“We have buildings that are very old and some that need to be replaced. We could make a list of ten tomorrow,” White said.

There are examples not only on UNLV’s campus, but also in Henderson, says Brookings Institution’s Robert Lang.

Conversely, Western Nevada College in Carson City, within walking distance of the governor’s office and the legislature, say Lang and others, is glittering with newer buildings in great shape.

Nevada higher education boss Dan Klaich acknowledges that many blame the inequity on late Nevada state senator Bill Raggio, a Reno Republican who served in the state senate for a record 38 years.

“I think Senator Raggio is a symbol, particularly here in Southern Nevada, of the dominance of the north and inequitable treatment of the south by the north,” Klaich said.

Klaich concedes that while Raggio – who died in 2012 - ruled the legislatures, buildings in the north sprung up and UNR flourished.

Meanwhile in the south, “You’ve got young institutions down there that have got fewer buildings and it will take longer to cure that,” he said.

Former politician and current corporate heavyweight Jan Jones says Raggio was known to put huge pressure on southern lawmakers who wanted to shift money south.

“I remember a flier that Bill Raggio and his caucus put out where they had all this winged money flying out of northern Nevada and flying to southern Nevada,” Jones said. “He made it appear that the south was coming to steal the north’s money even though most of that money was generated in the south because that’s where the taxpayers were and Raggio, very effectively, made sure that didn’t happen.”

Senator Mark Manendo tells News 3, Raggio was intimidating.

Other sources told News 3 that Raggio often told southern leaders: “If you shift funding from north to south, I’ll kill every bill you bring here.”

And in that environment, critics say, northern higher education won, leaving southern campuses struggling. They still haven't recovered.

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