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Archive for Wednesday, February 16, 1994

FINNEY ON WASHBURN

February 16, 1994

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— The governor continues to play hardball on the issue of Washburn University.

Gov. Joan Finney vowed Tuesday not to compromise on her plan to link state affiliation of Washburn University with salary increases for faculty at Kansas University and other state universities.

"I will support only the entire package," Finney said to editors and reporters attending Associated Press Day at the Legislature.

Finney's statement came on the heels of remarks by House and Senate leaders who believe the state might not be able to afford the governor's package.

"It's a lot of money, a lot of new money," said House Speaker Bob Miller, R-Wellington. "It's got a long ways to go before it becomes law."

Senate President Bud Burke, R-Olathe, said Finney's budget proposal for fiscal year 1995 was full of holes that jeopardized her WU-salary plan.

"There are budget demands ... that put us under water in the budget," he said.

The state Board of Regents system is composed of KU and five other public universities.

Meanwhile, the Senate Ways and Means Committee introduced a bill Tuesday that would bring WU into the system in three years.

Under the bill, the Washburn Board of Regents would turn over control of Washburn to the state Board of Regents in July 1997.

Sen. Gus Bogina, R-Shawnee, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said support for granting state affiliation to WU had slipped during the 1994 session.

``I think the acceptance was higher at the beginning of the session than it is now,'' he said. ``I think it's eroding, from talking to senators. The enthusiasm is dimmer.''

Finney told reporters that bringing Washburn into the state system must be tied to the regents' Partnership for Excellence program of faculty salary enhancement for university professors.

The partnership program would use a combination of tuition increases and state tax dollars to improve pay for faculty.

Opponents of Finney's plan contend that with the inclusion of Washburn, Kansas would have four state universities -- WU, KU, Kansas State, Emporia State -- within a 60-mile radius of Topeka.

Burke said that if Washburn becomes the seventh state university it won't adversely affect the budgets of existing state universities.

"KU and K-State are going to get their fair share," he said. "Nothing will pass that diminishes the current regents' budget."

Washburn is supported now by $6.4 million in state aid and a special Topeka property tax levy of 18 mills.

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