Archive for Tuesday, January 14, 1992

PLAN BOOSTS KU FUNDS

January 14, 1992

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— Gov. Joan Finney's budget plan includes a $12 million increase for Kansas University but it doesn't provide funding to rebuild historic Hoch Auditorium.

KU Chancellor Gene Budig said Finney's budget for fiscal 1993 has given KU and other state universities a positive foundation on which to build.

"We will work hard, in tandem with the governor, to protect and preserve her recommendations, while underscoring the necessity of enhancing certain others," he said.

Budig said he was pleased the budget Finney presented to the Legislature incorporated a full tuition waiver for graduate teaching assistants, an increase in operating funds and extra money to help KU handle enrollment increases.

He said he was disappointed the governor didn't recommend the allocation of state funds to plan the rebuilding of Hoch.

Finney's higher education recommendation would provide $527 million to operate KU and KU Medical Center in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

SHE PROPOSED spending $269 million, an increase of $11.8 million, to cover expenditures at KU's Lawrence campus. The Kansas Board of Regents requested $273.3 million.

For KUMC in Kansas City, Kan., the governor decided to recommend $258.4 million, a $9.6 million increase. Regents asked for $259.2 million.

Sen. Wint Winter Jr., R-Lawrence, said he was generally impressed with Finney's budget proposal. It could have been much worse, he said.

"At least the universities weren't targeted for cuts."

However, Winter said he was concerned that under Finney's plan state funding for Washburn University and community colleges would rise 4 percent, while funding for state universities would increase 3.5 percent.

Rep. John Solbach, D-Lawrence, said he was bothered by the fact that half of the budget increase recommended by Finney for the regents' system would come from tuition increases.

"When a public institution continually resorts to tuition to flesh out the budget, you put education out of the reach of more and more people," he said.

Finney's budget for higher education includes a:

3.5 percent increase in overall funding for regents' universities.

2.5 percent salary increase for faculty, staff and students.

4 percent increase in other operating expenditures (OOE).

100 percent tuition waiver for GTAs, up from 75 percent.

FINNEY SAID in an interview that she didn't recommend the state finance reconstruction of Hoch, the 64-year-old KU building destroyed after it was struck by lightning in June, because the state can't afford the project at this time.

"If they (legislators) can come up with a source of funding, I would seriously consider it," Finney said.

Budig proposed to spread the cost of the project over a three-year period beginning in July. During the first year, the state would spend $1 million. It would spend $8 million and $9 million respectively in the following two years.

"I believe that funding for Hoch planning is a real possibility," Budig said. "There is growing legislative sentiment about its importance."

Solbach said the question of providing state money for Hoch is "a critical statewide policy issue." The state's policy of "self insurance" there's actually no insurance, only an unwritten pledge to repair buildings hit by disaster is threatened, he said.

"It's very critical that Hoch be taken care of," Solbach said. "Not just because Hoch is on the KU campus. If not, heads of state agencies will want to spend millions on insuring buildings and that will impact the state budget."

Rep. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, said it costs less in the long run to have a self-insurance policy, but that means "when something needs to be done, the state must step in."

BUDIG PRAISED Finney's proposal to increase OOE at state universities by 4 percent.

"The recommendation . . . will help us keep pace with inflation and address, in part, our most critical needs in library resources, computing, instrumentation and equipment," he said.

Carl Locke, dean of engineering at KU, said OOE is an area of the budget which is substantially underfunded at KU.

"We're fortunate in engineering, because we can raise other funds through research overhead, endowment funding, corporate support," he said. "That's how we keep operating."

Budig also said he was gratified that the governor recommended full funding of the university's $1 million enrollment adjustment request.

James Muyskens, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the enrollment adjustment money is important to KU operations.

"We've not received that money in the recent past. That would be a very positive development if that stays in the budget," he said.

Rep. Betty Jo Charlton, D-Lawrence, who at one time was a KU graduate student, said she strongly endorses Finney's proposal to raise the GTA fee waiver to 100 percent.

"This looms very important in my mind," she said. "This is something that I experienced myself. The waiver would help us attract well qualified graduate students."

KU IS OFTEN put at a disadvantage when recruiting graduate students because it can't offer GTAs a full tuition and fee waiver, Muyskens said.

"We've had to actually decrease the amount of pay to GTAs, and the fee waiver would be sort of a hidden raise," said David Frayer, chair of KU's anthropology department.

Finney also recommended $750,000 be spent to decommission a nuclear reactor and $2 million in bonds be issued to pay for construction of a biosciences research center on KU's Lawrence campus.

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