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Archive for Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Democrat has choice words for higher education cuts

February 19, 2002

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The House budget-writing committee on Tuesday approved a report that would cut funding to higher education, including Kansas University, by about 4 percent.

Republican budget leaders said the spending plan would be used as a foundation to build upon once the Legislature reaches consensus on increasing revenue.

"This was a difficult budget. This was a work in progress," said Rep. Clark Shultz, R-Lindsborg, chairman of the House Education and Legislative Budget Committee.

Shultz's committee presented its report to the House Appropriations Committee, which adopted the proposal on a voice vote.

But one Democrat on Shultz's committee  Rep. Bob Grant of Cherokee  refused to go along with the budget.

"Mr. Chairman, this budget sucks!," Grant wrote in a minority report.

KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway has stated that the proposed budget would hurt KU and other Kansas institutions of higher education for years to come.

The committee report will be used by lawmakers putting together the state's overall budget for fiscal year 2003, which starts July 1.

But higher education officials and lawmakers said they expected more money would be appropriated to higher education as the Legislature gets around to discussing tax increases.

"All of this depends on enhanced revenue. This (the cuts to higher education) is not what we want to do," said Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, a member of the appropriations panel.

Kim Wilcox, president of the Kansas Board of Regents, said he considered the budget as a "base line" that will have additions.

"We have serious needs in higher education and we are at a crucial time in moving the system ahead," Wilcox said.

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