Archive for Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Regents lobby for $47.7 million down payment on campus repairs

April 17, 2007


— The Kansas Board of Regents has asked Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to submit a $47.7 million budget amendment as a down payment on repairs to state universities.

The action comes as lawmakers today start working on the final state budget and as available revenue shrinks because of natural disasters, a costly settlement with the federal government for Medicaid expenses and already-approved tax cuts.

"As you know, this is an issue that only becomes more expensive and more dangerous the longer it is ignored," Reginald Robinson, regents president and chief executive officer, said in a letter to Sebelius about the repairs at universities.

Budget experts met Monday to review state revenue and emerged announcing that the economy is in good shape but the state budget cupboard is bare.

And that means many critical areas - taking care of social-service waiting lists and fixing crumbling classrooms at universities - may get shortchanged.

Shannon Jones, spokeswoman for a coalition of human service groups, noted lawmakers approved tax cuts and expanded gambling during the first part of the regular session but failed to address key social service issues. And that concerns her.

Regents officials have been lobbying lawmakers all year to address the backlog of $663 million worth of deferred maintenance and repair projects. But lawmakers have failed to come up with any solution.

In his letter to Sebelius, Robinson said the proposed $47.7 million would pay for the top needs at each regents school. That would include $8.8 million at Kansas University to repair and replace deteriorating utility tunnels and $7.9 million at KU Medical Center for repairs at the Applegate Energy Center.

"If we intend to keep the best and brightest students in Kansas, we must invest in and protect our state university infrastructure," Robinson said.

Sebelius' office declined to say whether the governor would issue a budget amendment for the funds, although she has said in the past that the Legislature must address the problem.

Sebelius' budget director Duane Goossen said the governor will make budget requests today of at least $53.5 million to correct problems the state has had with the federal government involving Medicaid.

Essentially, the federal government has ruled that the state has taken too much money for Medicaid expenses related to special education, and it will cost $37.4 million to cover a decrease in federal funds coming to Kansas and $16.1 million to cover the reduced federal share going forward.

In addition, Sebelius will request approximately $20 million in disaster funds to help with repairs associated with a major storm that hit western Kansas.

Added to funds locked away for school finance and tax cuts, there's not much left.

Despite the financial strain, budget experts Monday said the state economy is in good shape, avoiding some of the problems experienced in other states.

Sebelius said the economic news was "very encouraging." She urged the Legislature to focus on health care and early childhood programs when it returns. The full Legislature starts its wrap-up session April 25 while budget committees will start work today.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said that while $36 million in tax cuts approved by the Legislature put a squeeze on revenue, the cuts will, in the long term, help the economy.

"I am confident the Kansas economy will remain strong," Neufeld said.

The state revenue projections for the budget also don't include funds expected from expanded gambling, officials said.


Bruce Bertsch 11 years, 2 months ago

Tax cuts for the rich and business, but not a dime for higher education and infrastructure. Any sound economy MUST invest in physical assets or infrastructure, human assets or higher education and technology. If you don't you will end up like Ghana. Our legislators are so enamored with lowering taxes that they ca't see the damage they do to the state by ignoring education and technology. Sad.

OnlyTheOne 11 years, 2 months ago

At least somebody had the idea you don't have to spend all of it at once!

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

Define "rich?" Business and corporations are taxed and pay their employees, who are then taxed. Businesses, corporations and the rich pay their fair share taxes. it is the poor who don't carry their fair share, according to the US Treasury.

In 2001, the latest year of available data, the top 5 percent of taxpayers paid more than one-half (53.3 percent)* of all individual income taxes.

The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 33.9 percent of all individual income taxes in 2001. This group of taxpayers has paid more than 30 percent of individual income taxes since 1995. Moreover, since 1990 this group's tax share has grown faster than their income share.

The rich are carrying their load, its now up to the poor to step and pay their fair share!

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

Socialism is a giant pyramid scheme in reverse. You keep taking everything from everybody who has more than you until you are all equal, everybody is poor.

snowWI 11 years, 2 months ago

I agree with moderatenation on that one. We need the investements in our University infrastructure in order to reamain competitive. Unfortunately, Kansas continues to lose large numbers of people to other states because of out-migration.

b_asinbeer 11 years, 2 months ago

If I'm below poverty Sigmund, how do you expect me to pay more??? Which one would you like? My right arm or my left? Perhaps my 1st born child?

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

Top 50% income earners pay 96% OF ALL INCOME TAX. The bottom 50% pay 4%. How about the bottom 50% pick up one more percent say to 5%?

b_asinbeer 11 years, 2 months ago

I can barely survive as is...the only luxury I have is internet. No TV, rentals, movies, or dining out for me. I even walk 3/4 of the time to wherever I need to go. I don't think I can afford it. Be a good boy and pay my 5%, and write it off as charity...your higher being will surely notice that good deed.

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