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Archive for Friday, November 17, 1995

REGENTS APPEAL BUDGET CUTS

November 17, 1995

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— An annual quest for more taxpayer support of KU and other state universities moved to the governor's desk.

The Kansas Board of Regents appealed Thursday to Gov. Bill Graves to restore $34.6 million cut from the new budget proposed by state universities.

Sheared from the budget by State Budget Director Gloria Timmer of Lawrence was a salary increase for faculty, staff and student employees at Kansas University and five other regents institutions. The board asked for a 2.5 percent pay hike.

Under Timmer's scenario, KU's main campus in Lawrence and KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., would receive no budget increase in fiscal 1997, which begins July 1, 1996. Both would face a $6.9 million reduction in state funding.

At Kansas State University, the loss would total $5.8 million.

"Where in the wide world of sports are we going to get that?" asked Kansas State President Jon Wefald.

Ray Hauke, regents budget analyst, told regents the squeeze applied by Timmer was traditional. Her objective is to give the governor flexibility to fashion a budget reflecting his priorities, he said.

However, Hauke added, there was more anxiety than in the past about the willingness of state government to restore money to university budgets.

"What we're scratching our heads about is how much will be added back," he said.

Regents Chairman John Hiebert, Lawrence, had a face-to-face Statehouse meeting Thursday with Graves to appeal Timmer's budget.

Graves is expected to offer an austere spending blueprint when the Legislature convenes in January due to sluggish growth in tax revenues and decline in federal funding.

``There isn't a whole lot of financial wiggle room,'' Graves said.

Hiebert said he believed Graves was sympathetic to the needs of higher education. He said convincing legislators of the necessity to protect state investment in regents universities would be a bigger challenge.

Regent Robert Talkington of Iola said the board's top priority was restoration of $24.8 million cut from the regents existing base budget.

He said regents also urged Graves not to make any reduction in student financial aid programs financed by the state. There's talk of removing $2 million from the $12 million budget for student assistance.

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