Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday said she would make a proposal to address a backlog of $727 million worth of repairs at the state's universities.
"It's an infrastructure issue about very important assets in this state and one that I take seriously. I will have a proposal to deal with it," Sebelius said.
The 2007 legislative session starts Jan. 8.
Her comments came after student leaders cited dangerous conditions on their campuses and delivered 6,500 student-signed postcards Thursday to Sebelius that say "Please make a down payment on my future."
The student leaders said the Legislature needed to provide $180 million - one fourth of the projected need - as part of a multiyear plan to make the repairs.
"The time to act is now," said Ginger Niemann, a Pittsburg State University senior and chairwoman of the students' advisory committee to the Kansas Board of Regents.
Ian Staples, legislative director of Student Senate at the Kansas Union, mentioned a September incident when a transformer blew at Wescoe Hall. The deferred maintenance price tag at KU alone is $285 million for the Lawrence campus and KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.
Community colleges also are expected to make a funding request for upkeep.
Sebelius said no specific plan to address the problem had been formed, but added that any proposal would cover several years.
She also said any proposal would have to accelerate paying off the debt on bonds that were used for infrastructure maintenance as part of the "crumbling classrooms" initiative in the 1990s.
"We are looking at a financing plan that would hopefully clear that debt out well before 2012 and use that ongoing to try to keep up," she said.
The regents proposed a tax increase for deferred maintenance during the last legislative session, but that proposal went nowhere.
- $1.2M OK'd for KU storm damage
- Casino income may help universities (12-09-06)
- University heads rally for support to fund repairs (12-07-06)
- Students start campaign to increase funds for deferred maintenance (12-07-06)
- Chat about crumbling classrooms with KU student body president Jason Boots (12-06-06)
- State may help deferred maintenance (12-02-06)