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Archive for Thursday, June 28, 2001

Regents approve budget increase

Funding proposal faces rocky road in Legislature

June 28, 2001

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— The Kansas Board of Regents Wednesday recommended state lawmakers next year approve an almost 11 percent increase in funding for higher education.

The recommendation would increase state funding to public universities, community colleges and vocational-technical schools to nearly $900 million for fiscal year 2003, which starts July 1, 2002.

Kansas University would receive about a 5.6 percent increase in its general operating budget under the recommendation.

Requests from the regents for higher education spending are almost always cut by the Legislature, and early pronouncements by state officials indicate next year's legislative session will be no exception.

But Regents Chairman Clay Blair said the proposed increase was fair and probably looked larger than it really was.

Much of the recommended increase, he said, was to restore budget reductions made this year and fund requirements of Senate Bill 345, a higher education overhaul that was approved in 1999.

In fact, recommended funding for Senate Bill 345 makes up about half of the proposed increase.

Those proposed appropriations include $13.4 million to increase faculty pay, another $13.9 million for schools achieving performance goals, and $13.1 million to community colleges earmarked for reducing local property taxes that go toward those schools.

"I think it's a budget that reflects the economic conditions of the state," Blair said.

Under the proposal, faculty would receive a 4 percent to 5 percent raise, in addition to whatever increase is given to other state employees.

The recommendation would give KU and the other five public universities a 5.6 percent budget increase. Technical and vocational school funding would increase 7.4 percent and community colleges, 18.8 percent, with most of that money going toward property tax relief.

But lawmakers already have indicated those kinds of funding increases won't be possible.

Legislative leaders have announced they want to study the 1999 higher education funding formula because they say it is more expensive than originally projected.

And they also have questioned whether there will be enough money to give schools extra money for achieving certain goals.

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