Topeka — State higher education officials Wednesday jumped into the fray over TABOR, saying the so-called Taxpayer's Bill of Rights would devastate higher education in Kansas.
After analyzing the TABOR proposal, Regents Chairwoman Donna Shank, of Liberal, said "there isn't one piece of good news for higher education in there."
But Alan Cobb, leader of the pro-TABOR Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said he wasn't surprised by the regents' vote.
"Government entities don't like restrictions on their ability to access public funds," Cobb said.
TABOR would limit increases in state spending to population growth plus the rate of inflation. Revenues raised above that amount would be refunded to taxpayers, and any tax increase would have to be approved by voters.
Supporters, who recently conducted a statewide promotion tour, said the proposal would stimulate the Kansas economy and protect taxpayers. They have proposed TABOR as a constitutional amendment, which would require two-thirds approval in the Legislature and a statewide vote, or simply by statute, which would require a majority of the Legislature and approval of the governor.
The regents adopted a resolution opposing either method.
They said automatic limits on spending and taxes might sound appealing but were simplistic and would lead to an increase in tuition, and reduce state dollars available for education, social services and highways.
Regent Dick Bond, of Overland Park, a former Senate president, said the proposal was being pushed by "very wealthy people who don't want to pay anymore."
Regent Janice DeBaug, of Emporia, said TABOR in Colorado has "absolutely been devastating for higher education there."
But TABOR supporter Cobb disputed Bond's assertion, saying that TABOR supporters represented people from all income levels. He also said Colorado's higher education system ranked ahead of Kansas' in some ratings.
Several regents members said that because of restrictions from TABOR, Colorado voters would decide in November whether to impose a five-year "timeout" on TABOR in order to direct funds to needed improvements.
The regents also urged university officials to get their students and parents involved in defeating TABOR.
Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said many people were discussing TABOR at KU.
"Discussion of this issue is important for the whole state and will continue for some months," he said.