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Archive for Friday, September 17, 1993

TAGS WOULD PUT RIVALRY ON THE ROAD

September 17, 1993

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— The Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats might be able to take their rivalry to the streets.

Rep. Don Rezac, D-Emmett, said today that he might sponsor a bill during the 1994 legislative session that would allow the sale of special Kansas vehicle license plates emblazoned with a state university name and mascot of the motorist's choice.

"The idea is to generate money for scholarship funds at the universities in Kansas," Rezac said.

Under Rezac's proposal, the tags touting Kansas University or one of the other five schools in the Kansas Board of Regents system would be more expensive than normal license plates.

After the state covers its costs, he said, any additional revenue would be funneled to general scholarship programs at the regents universities.

KU Chancellor Gene Budig believes the concept has worked effectively in other states.

"All of us at the regents' universities are searching for increased resources for student scholarships," he said. "Any proposal that enhances student scholarships should be explored."

Budig has made scholarships his top fund-raising priority for the next three to five years.

James Martin, president of KU's Endowment Association, said there will never be enough financial assistance for college students.

"If this would provide some resources I think the idea has great merit," Martin said.

Rep. Forrest Swall, D-Lawrence, and an assistant professor of social welfare at KU, said he would have no objection to a license tag scholarship program.

"It still doesn't take the place of putting money into education," he said.

Wichita State University President Gene Hughes, former head of Arizona State University, said Thursday at the Board of Regents' meeting that this type of scholarship program had helped Arizona universities for years.

He said a regular Arizona license plate cost $8 and a special Arizona university tag cost $25. The difference -- $17 -- was applied to the scholarship fund at three participating universities in that state, he said.

"There was good healthy competition among the alumni associations to see who could have the most plates," Hughes said.

In addition, he said, national car rental companies operating in Arizona placed some of the tags on their cars as a way of supporting higher education.

Kansas State President Jon Wefald endorsed the idea. The concept could be popular enough to raise significant funds for scholarships, he said.

"It seems to be working well in other states," he said.

Rezac said there was no guarantee the Legislature would endorse production of the university license plates. He fought for four years before gaining legislative approval of a bill that created a license plate for Pearl Harbor survivors.

"Special tags are difficult to get through," Rezac said. "It might not pass in the first year. People are concerned about where you draw the line. What are you going to say to the next special interest that comes along?"

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