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Archive for Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Governor calls for more higher ed funding

Public school funding relatively flat in governor’s budget proposal

January 11, 2005

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday unveiled a 3.4 percent state budget increase that keeps public school funding relatively flat and provides a $43 million increase to higher education.

The spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 also would give state employees a 2.5 percent pay increase, and faculty at universities an average 3.5 percent pay increase.

Budget Director Duane Goossen said the budget reflects current spending, plus "have-to" expenditures and several targeted extras.

"That's about all that is available to do here," Goossen said.

On school funding, Sebelius proposes keeping the base state aid per pupil at the current level of $3,863. The base state aid is the major component of school spending.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature to increase school funding.

Goossen said the governor believes the Legislature needs to address the issue separate from her budget recommendation.

"Meeting the Supreme Court challenge has to be done separately," he said.

On higher education, universities will receive an $18 million increase in the current $708 million operating grant.

That increase will pay for a 2.5 percent payraise for all university employees. In addition, universities will receive $3.3 million more to provide a pool for merit pay increases for faculty, that if averaged would be about a one percent increase. More funding also is proposed for student financial aid and vocational-technical schools.

Overall, the Sebelius budget would spend $4.841 billion for the fiscal year, a $160 million increase over current spending. Goossen said about $135 million of that must be spent to take care of increasing numbers of Medicaid recipients and new debt obligations.

"We have built the budget within existing resources," he said.

The proposal also seeks to reduce waiting lists for low-income elderly Kansans seeking in-home services. But it wouldn't provide enough funding to take care of waiting lists for programs that serve the developmentally and physically disabled.




For more on this story, see the 6News report at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and pick up a copy of Wednesday's Journal-World.

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