- HouseBill 2593 (.pdf)
- Challenge to gambling expansion expected (03-29-07)
- Gambling supporters, opponents use various tactics to delay vote (03-29-07)
- University towns could see higher taxes (03-29-07)
- Bill would raise local taxes, tuition to pay for university maintenance (03-28-07)
- Regents report says repairs would help state economy (03-23-07)
- Time running out for repair proposals (03-22-07)
- Committee nixes governor's plan for turnpike toll increase (03-14-07)
- Community colleges face big repair bills (03-14-07)
- House gets KU Hospital proposal (03-07-07)
- Senatorsuggests selling KU Hospital to fund $660M in university repairs (03-01-07)
- Task force can't agree on regents repair plan (02-20-07)
Topeka With time running out in the 2007 legislative session, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and House Republican leaders are far apart on how to pay for repairs at regents universities.
"We need to deal with that issue this year," Sebelius said.
The Legislature meets Monday and Tuesday before taking a break and then returning April 25 for a wrap-up session.
Universities have said they need $663 million to take care of deferred repairs and maintenance projects.
But in the latest proposal, House Republican leaders offered $75 million in additional funding over five years, called for an increase in nonresident tuition, would make $300 million in low-interest loans available, and would give counties with regents schools the opportunity to raise their sales tax rate by one-tenth of a cent for maintenance projects.
Sebelius said the $75 million "addresses a piece of the puzzle, but in no way addresses the problem."
And of the part that would allow county commissioners to increase sales tax in local counties, she said, "I'm not sure that that is a sensible way to solve the deferred maintenance problem."
Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said a one-tenth of a cent sales tax increase in Douglas County would raise $1.4 million per year. KU's share of the deferred maintenance projects is approximately $260 million.
"What they are suggesting would be a drop in the bucket," Weinaug said.
In addition, he said, from a public policy standpoint, the proposal doesn't make sense.
"It would be like saying the Shawnee County taxpayers ought to be paying for maintenance on the Capitol building," he said.
Republicans have defended the bill, saying it is a good starting point for discussions.
"We have to have a framework," said House Appropriations Chairwoman Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington. "We've done the responsible thing to take a step forward."
The Senate hasn't adopted a plan for deferred maintenance, and Sebelius' proposal to increase turnpike tolls has gotten no support in the Legislature.
The legislation adopted last week to expand casino gambling in Kansas says a portion of the revenue returned to the state can be used for repairs to schools, but no specific amount has been dedicated.
On another front, Sebelius finds herself at odds with House GOP leaders on a proposal to allow Johnson County voters to decide whether to increase either sales or property taxes, or a combination of the two, to fund a research authority that would be used to help the KU Medical Center and Edwards Campus.
"Letting the people of Johnson County make the decision of whether they think this is a viable economic opportunity makes good sense to me," she said.
But House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said he wanted to protect taxpayers from a tax increase.
He said he feared that under the proposal, well-financed interests would mount an expensive campaign to persuade voters to raise their taxes.