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Archive for Tuesday, March 19, 1991

LAWMAKERS HOPE TO AVERT REGENTS CUTS

March 19, 1991

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— A coalition of Democrats and Republicans today agreed to introduce three amendments on the House floor that would restore a portion of the $40 million in state university budget cuts recommended by the House Appropriations Committee.

The House was scheduled this afternoon to consider the committee's fiscal 1992 budget for Board of Regents institutions, including Kansas University. The appropriations committee had voted to slash Gov. Joan Finney's budget and impose an unprecedented tuition increase.

The fate of the three amendments drafted in large part at the urging of Rep. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence was uncertain. However, the sentiment among many legislators is to reduce state government spending and avoid tax hikes, she said.

"These amendments don't address the Margin of Excellence, unfortunately," Praeger said, adding that about a dozen lawmakers helped draft the amendments Monday night. "Our rationale is that we've got to fund some of these basic items."

THE FIRST amendment would restore $16 million for universities, including money for student salaries, graduate student tuition waivers, enrollment adjustments and other operating expenditures. It also wipes out a 1 percent across-the-board cut.

Under this amendment, which the Lawrence delegation favors, Praeger said $4.1 million of the budget cuts imposed by the House committee in KU's budget would be restored. The amendment would restore $2 million for KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

If the first amendment fails, Praeger said the coalition plans to seek restoration of $11 million. This option restores funds for operating expenditures, eliminates the 1 percent cut and partially restores money for work study, student wages and the enrollment adjustment.

Rep. John Solbach, D-Lawrence, who was to carry the amendments with Rep. Jim Lowther, R-Emporia, said he was disturbed by the second option. It would require a $3.6 million rise in tuition above the level recommended by the House committee.

FOR KU, regents endorsed a tuition increase this fall of 3 percent for Kansas residents and 10 percent for non-residents. The committee recommended 8 percent and 20 percent increases. The amendment would raise tuition 10 percent and 25 percent.

"I'm opposed to the Legislature getting into the business of setting tuition. Traditionally, the regents do it. But if we have to, the money should go were students can see the benefits, such as student salaries," said Rep. Betty Jo Charlton, D-Lawrence.

The third option imposes the extra $3.6 million tuition increase, which would be used to restore a portion of the 1 percent across-the-board cut. If all else fails, the coalition plans to try to send the bill back to the House committee.

Solbach said the proposed amendments to the regents budget represent an attempt to "ask the House to take a stand on the base budgets of the universities. This is needed because we still haven't reached a kind of consensus on revenues and spending."

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