Archive for Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Regents to ask for more funding

After years on ‘back burner,’ higher education makes its case to Legislature for increased state support

September 20, 2006


— Higher education officials Tuesday issued a call to arms for more money, saying state funding to universities has slumped like the Kansas City Royals.

"Just as the winning percentage of the Kansas City Royals has declined dramatically since that team won its only World Series title in 1985, the state's investment in its six universities has slipped significantly over the same time period," said Reginald Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Board of Regents.

Robinson's comments represented an opening salvo in what is likely to be an intense debate about higher education funding during the 2007 legislative session, which starts in January.

State Sen. Jean Kurtis Schodorf, R-Wichita, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, said higher education had waited patiently in recent years as the state grappled with a recession and then a costly lawsuit on financing K-12 schools.

"They have been on the back burner in terms of funding," Schodorf said. "I'm not surprised that they are coming forward now."

Robinson said the state would have trouble competing economically unless it invests more in higher education.

Individuals and society as a whole benefit from higher education through increased income, less reliance on government programs and an increase in civic involvement, he said.

Spreading the message

In order to get their message across, regents officials will have a series of on-campus working lunches with legislators and legislative candidates. The first one is Sept. 27 at Pittsburg State University. Meetings are planned Oct. 23 at the Kansas University Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kan., and Nov. 2 at the KU Lawrence campus.

Higher ed officials also are trying to get lawmakers to approve a plan to pay for nearly $600 million in repairs and renovations needed at college campuses across the state.

So far, those efforts have run into a brick wall of no-new-tax positions. And significant funding increases are likely to run into opposition.

Alan Cobb, state director of Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group, said taxpayers already are overburdened.

"Let's not forget who is paying for higher ed in Kansas already," Cobb said. "Hardworking families and students in Kansas who are paying income tax, sales tax and property tax to pay for all of Kansas government, including higher education."

Americans for Prosperity was founded by billionaire David Koch, executive vice president and a board director for Koch Industries, based in Wichita. Koch was the Libertarian Party candidate for vice president of the United States in 1980.

Regents numbers

According to a regents study, however, the state's portion of tax dollars going to higher education is decreasing.

In 2005, the state contributed 29 percent of what was needed to operate state universities, according to the study. In 1985, that total was 49 percent.

Meanwhile, in the same period, tuition has increased from providing 15 percent of universities' budgets to 23 percent, the study said.

The reduction in the state's portion of funding has fallen hardest on students and their families who must pay the increased tuition, Robinson said.

In addition, since 1985, total state spending has increased 54 percent but state university support has grown only 5 percent, the study showed.

Other side of the coin

But Cobb said other data show Kansans make a major commitment to higher education.

He said Kansas ranks eighth in higher education spending as a percent of personal income, and 14.5 percent of the state budget goes to higher education, more than the national average for states, which is 10.8 percent.

"As the regents recognize, it's not as if the state budget isn't growing - it has grown a lot," he said. "It seems to me the beef the regents have is with the other areas of the state budget that have increased so much faster than higher ed."

Schodorf said it would be difficult to meet all the state's funding needs because of the Legislature's approval last session of a $466 million, three-year school funding plan that was accepted by the Kansas Supreme Court, which dismissed the school finance litigation.

"The problem is there is no wiggle room in the budget," she said.

But Schodorf said she and others would work to provide higher education with some benefits.

"They have been good troupers because of this K through 12 funding crisis that we have experienced," she said.


johngalt 11 years, 7 months ago

I think the Regents need better lobbyists!

Shardwurm 11 years, 7 months ago

Oh, one more thing -

I worked and paid my way through college as well. I didn't earn any scholarships.

The difference for me was that the cost of an education was reasonable when I went through. My children spend as much in one semester as I did for my whole education.

Unless you went through in the last few years I'm not sure you understand the magnitude of what we're talking about.

BigDog 11 years, 7 months ago

Well Shardwurm, thank you for the English lesson.

I guess it is imprtant to make sure these "middle class white kids" all get their college education. Why worry about taking more from middle class seniors on a fixed income or families who are worried about clothing, feeding and having health insurance for themselves?

You can only ask the taxpayer to carry you so far in life.

I earned scholarships, WORKED and used student loans to pay my way through college.

Kuku_Kansas 11 years, 7 months ago


I love when things are compared to the Kansas City Royals.

I mean, that's when you things are bad.

SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years, 7 months ago

Wouldn't it be great if our state universities were funded entirely from a) tuition and b) alumni contributions, and we could get the regents out of our families' budgets?

BigDog 11 years, 7 months ago

WOW! What a big surprise .... another group of education people wanting more from the taxpayer. At what point should the student be willing to pay for their own education and not have the taxpayer carry them on their backs.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 7 months ago

"It's not the students education that requires the funding."

Not true. Increased numbers of students require more classrooms and buildings. Also, buildings must be safe, clean, modern, and well-maintained to give students the best education.

Also, increased numbers of students require hiring more professors. KU has not done this, as there are about the same number of faculty as 20 years ago but almost double the number of students. This results in large class sizes.

KS 11 years, 7 months ago

Where did all the money go that they have gotten over the years? Sounds like poor management to me. I would suggest that the universities get together with their alumni associations. That is where all the money is. Just wait until the bus companies merge and then see just how much MORE money they will want.

Shardwurm 11 years, 7 months ago

Yur w3lcom3 BigDog. I didn't 3v3n charge u 4 ur le55on.

Don't mistake my post as support for more money. I do not support giving away even more of my income when I already pay through the nose to support things like 8 percent pay hikes for teachers who do things like re-use needles to draw blood from students (see Salina.)

Perhaps maybe my post only goes to show how absurd such a request is - with so many people paying through the nose to much more does the state have to throw in?

Mainly my post was to tell you that the vast majority of the students (and/or their parents) are, indeed, paying handsomely for their education and are receiving absolutely ZERO financial aid from the government.

KS 11 years, 7 months ago

Kuku_Kansas - It is poor management. If you are given a budget to work with every year (your annual income to raise your family, etc.) would you expect someone to give you more because you need to paint your house? Use the money wisely and that should include some maintainence every once in awhile.

The State is not really a slumlord in this case. I see it that the State has turned over the custodial responsibilities to the universities and they are falling down on their jobs. Again, very poor management, ie: KU seems to have enough money to construct/remodel (call it whatever you want) a new visitor center but not repair or replace a leaky roof? It is priorities and KU doesn't seem to have theirs in order. Again, go to the alumni association.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 7 months ago

It is expensive to run a research university and getting more so. The state has failed to fulfill its responsibility to the university, so tuition must be raised.

A few points: 1) Per student state funding has gone down about 30%, from something around $6,000 20 years ago to something around $4,000 last year (KU enrollment has almost doubled in that time). KU has been given less state money per student.

2) Tuition, fees, and "other". That "other" is in part federal and sponsored research projects, applied for and won by KU faculty members. This research money now accounts for about 25% of total KU expenditures, more than tuition and on par with state funding.

tolawdjk 11 years, 7 months ago

It's not the students education that requires the funding.

It's the state failing to maintain the property that it owns. You know, fixing the leaky roof, the busted door, the crapped out heating and cooling.

The state is a slumlord.

Kuku_Kansas 11 years, 7 months ago

yourworstnightmare is absolutely correct!

While the expenditure of running a university has increased...

...over the last 30 years, the state of Kansas has actually slashed its financial support to all regent universities. The state only provides roughly 30% of its actual budget, down 40-50% from the 1960s & 1070s, even though it is a state educational institution that actually serves the needs of the entire state.

This is not poor management at all.

This is a choice by the State of Kansas to reduce its responsibility to adaquately fund our regent colleges and universities.

I wish KU would just privatize...we wouldn't have to listen/deal with the state's oh-so-wise-opinion of how to run an educational institution that it doesn't even bother funding.

Shardwurm 11 years, 7 months ago

"At what point should the student be willing to pay for their own education and not have the taxpayer carry them on their backs."

First - this is a question and therefore should have a question mark at the end. It would appear you missed that class.

Second - Have you looked into the cost of a college education lately? If you're a middle class white student with good grades, participation in lots of high school activities, but an ACT score of less than 30 you're going to get ZERO scholarship support. An education at KU these days will strap that individual with around $50,000 (or more) in debt before they even work one day.

The vast majority of students ARE paying for their education. Poor students get a free ride. Rich people don't care. The middle class is getting smoked to support universities.

The bottom line? The payback time on a college education (depending on the degree) continues to go further out on the horizon. As students graduate and go to work they have less disposable income available to spend and stimulate the economy. We're going to have an entire generation of white collar workers who are saddled with billions of dollars in debt.

So don't say students aren't paying - they are.

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