Topeka A 1997-98 budget proposal for KU and other state universities includes a 4 percent faculty pay raise.
Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway was in a spending mood Wednesday at the Kansas Board of Regents' budget committee confab.
After scanning options set before regent, faculty and student committee members, Hemenway seized Budget Scenario F. He tweaked the plan by jacking up funding of faculty salaries and won the panel's endorsement.
The blueprint, which will be reviewed by regents today and must be submitted to the governor this fall, would increase spending at the six regents universities by $33.5 million in 1997-98. About $27 million would come from taxpayers.
"It seems to be a justifiable request," Hemenway said.
Under the plan, unclassified faculty and staff at the universities would receive an average pay raise of 4 percent on July 1, 1997.
Hemenway doubted it would be enough to compel professors to gather on Jayhawk Boulevard for a tribute to regents and legislators.
In the 1996 session, lawmakers passed a 2.5 percent raise that kicks in Jan. 1. It's essentially a 1.25 percent pay hike for 1996-97.
Stephen Jordan, regents executive director, said salary increases this year at the University of Missouri in Columbia would average 12 percent. Nationally, raises for college and university faculty will be about 3.5 percent.
"Right off the bat we've lost," Jordan said. "I don't think there's any doubt we're going to fall further behind."
Raises for regents university professors should be 5 percent to 10 percent annually the rest of the decade, Hemenway said.
"I believe the Board of Regents must address the issue of faculty salaries in subsequent years," he said.
A raise of 4 percent was based on the assumption the 1997 Legislature would adopt a budget that increased spending for universities from the state general fund -- where general tax dollars end up -- by 5.3 percent.
In the just-completed session, lawmakers increased the general fund contribution to universities by 1.1 percent. Regents sought a 5 percent increase.
Robert Talkington, an Iola regent and former Senate president, endorsed the budget outline but expressed concern that too large a request might alienate Gov. Bill Graves and the Legislature.
"We don't want to be perceived as money-grubbers," he said.
He said it was the board's responsibility to submit a budget that reflected the needs of faculty, students and staff.
"I'd hope the Legislature ... and the governor would understand," said Talkington, chair of the budget committee.
The board meets today at the board's office in Topeka at the Security Benefit Building, 700 S.W. Harrison, Suite 1410.