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Archive for Friday, April 20, 2007

Senate has $525M plan for universities

April 20, 2007

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— Senate budget writers Thursday agreed to plan to provide $525 million over five years for hundreds of repair projects at state universities.

"I think it is a sincere and significant step in addressing the deferred maintenance issue, and at the same time takes into consideration other obligations that we have at the state," said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer.

Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Nelson Galle said, "The Senate plan represents a substantial and creative solution to an extremely challenging issue."

One committee member, however, didn't like the plan.

"I'm a supporter of educational institutions, but I think we need to see more commitment from the regents that they will do a better job with the people's tax dollars than they have in the past," said state Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City.

The plan would provide $525 million over five years for Kansas University and the other five regents universities. It would continue an increase in funding after that.

It also gives first priority to community colleges, technical schools and Washburn University to draw from $200 million in no-interest loans for repair and maintenance projects.

The regents have identified $663 million worth of needed repairs at universities, but said they could make headway by receiving $100 million per year.

Community colleges have priced their repairs at $150 million.

Higher education leaders have said the backlog of repairs has increased over the years because of inadequate state funding. But paying for the repairs has proven to be one of the most difficult issues facing lawmakers.

Proposals to increases taxes, tuition and Kansas Turnpike tolls have fallen by the wayside.

The Senate committee plan relies on available revenue, and perhaps even new revenue from the recently approved expansion of gambling.

"What we're talking about is honest, new dollars instead of reshuffling dollars around," Umbarger said.

The proposal joins other competing plans that will be scrutinized when the full Legislature returns Wednesday for its wrap-up session.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has asked lawmakers to approve $62.7 million for the universities to handle immediate repair problems. Included in that would be $8.8 million for utility tunnel work at KU and $7.9 million for replacing equipment at the Applegate Energy Center at KU Medical Center.

Meanwhile, House Republican leaders have proposed a plan that relies primarily on providing low-interest loans and would allow regents counties to increase local sales taxes to help pay for repairs.

Both the House GOP and Senate committee plan would pay off earlier crumbling classroom bonds to make $15 million more per year available for actual repair work.

The Senate adds a one-time $45 million appropriation from a disaster relief fund, similar to Sebelius' recommendation. And the Senate plan contains a number of additional revenue transfers and appropriations.

Senators also said they would develop tax credits for private donors who want to help pay for maintenance projects.

Comments

Christian Hinton 7 years ago

Godot:

State Universities are rarely given a building as a "gift." Given the paltry sum the state of Kansas provides to the universities, new buildings are hard to come by and only possible when absolutely necessary and usually through extensive fundraising.

When some unit of KU (the school of Architecture, for instance) needs more space it has to squeeze the life out of alumni and charitable organizations and increase the fee load on its students in order to get it, simply because the state is not paying for it.

When the Universities stretch their resources to build a building largely without state help the State should at least provide the money to maintain it. The buildings do, after all, belong to the state, and by extension the taxpayers.

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Lynn731 7 years ago

I do not think it was inadequate state funding. I think they chose to spend the repair money on something else. After years of doing this, the buildings are in need of repairs and they are whining that they had inadequate state funding. What a bunch of c**p. Now they want the taxpayers, who already paid for the repairs, to pay for them again. Maybe they could ground their expensive aircraft? Or save money by not renovating already overpaid administrators offices. I could go on, but you get the picture. Thank you, Lynn

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yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

The legislature and those like Godot want to keep the university "barefoot and pregnant". They want to fund the university to status quo levels only, and have no conception of excellence, advancement, progress, and achievement.

This is why KU needs to become a private university. Then the ignorant legislature and short-sited tax-misers can complain about something else.

KU this, KU that. Whine whine whine. Moan moan moan.

A divorce of KU and the state would end this petty, disgruntled chatter.

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yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

"Low to no-interest loans -- what a farce! All the State Universities are STATE PROPERTY! Their problems and deferred maintenance are STATE PROBLEMS! STATE GOVERNMENT wants to give ITSELF a no-low interest loan?"

Great point. The state is basically giving itself a loan. Nonsense.

JA's point is also good. How will the university pay back these loans? What source of income will they use?

Godot, you completely missed the mark (yet again).

The state owns the university, and any endowment funds only add to the state's property, the university.

Furthermore, very few building at KU are the result of mostly "gifts". Only until recently has KU begun to construct building with "gift" money, in large part because the state funds have been decreasing steadily.

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Godot 7 years ago

If you think the state owns the buildings, show me the endowment gift made out to the "State of Kansas." The buildings are commissioned, controlled and operated by the universities.

The Universities can accept the "gifts" of the buildings without having to get approval from the legislature, and then can turn around and demand cash from the legislature for the increased operational costs and the maintenance.

This truly is taxation without representation.

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Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Jamesaust is on target. This about years and years of neglect instead of maintaining existing resources as necessary. Had this been done accordingly the repair bill of today would not such an extraordinary task. The state owns the properties therfore it is THEIR job. Taxpayers do not save money through neglect of resources. Everytime tax cut chit chat surfaces the question may well be how much more will the tax cost at a later date??

Same goes for our own city infrastructure that is a victim of neglect for more than a decade. Obviously Lawrence cannot afford what we have because the massive residential projects are not paying off in tax revenue.

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Wilbur_Nether 7 years ago

walleye9898 wrote "Community Colleges are just that COMMUNITY Colleges. Fund at County level and make up the difference with higher non-county resident tuition. If that isn't enough, then get rid of a couple of them. Technical schools should be the same."

The argument looks simple enough on the surface. However, these schools provide an occupational preparation that Universities do not--should not--CAN not--offer. They are a critical component of our economy and should be embraced and grown as a valid alternative to university education. We need them to train our electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, and others. Our children's access to them should be encouraged and increased--they should be seen as Ed Gordon makes an excellent argument for them as equally important to universities in his book SKILL WARS.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years ago

Drew, Your keen logical argument has caused me to see the error of my original comment.

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sinedie 7 years ago

If the goal is funding repairs while also trying to encourage responsible money management, the Senate's plan is far superior to the House version. At least it contains an attempt at addressing the cause of the disease, not just treatment of the symptoms.

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drewdun 7 years ago

"If you're this intolerant of others' ideas after such a short period of time (you've made 11 posts of your own), you're clearly not cut out for intelligent dialogue."

True, but your post was idiotic, so his response was justified.

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MyName 7 years ago

I think I would disagree with that statement: if you enjoy intelligent dialog, you'd be better off posting as little as you can.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years ago

Booze Buds,

If you're this intolerant of others' ideas after such a short period of time (you've made 11 posts of your own), you're clearly not cut out for intelligent dialogue.

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Jamesaust 7 years ago

"When they "gotta" pay the money back, they just might be a little more careful with it."

What exactly is the source of monies "to pay back"? There are no revenues to the universities for infrastructure other than what the State appropriates to them.

And what inanity is this "more careful" b/s. Buildings require maintenance. Period. And if you don't do the maintenance BECAUSE THE STATE FAILS TO PROVIDE MONEY then the maintence costs not only increase arithmatically but geometrically.

The bottom line is that over the last decade when the Legislature has returned revenues to taxpayers as tax cuts they lied to the people of Kansas by implying that all financial obligations had been settled.

But now, in typical 'deadbeat' fashion, having pushed off paying their debts they are still offering up excuses why they still can't pay. You see, (must like George Bush) having to pay (alter policy) requires that they (he) admit error. Some people just aren't 'big enough' to admit error.

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walleye9898 7 years ago

Still going no where -- slow!

Need to remove Washburn, Community Colleges and Technical Schools from State Teet. Washburn is a City/Municipal School that needs to stay that way or go private. Community Colleges are just that COMMUNITY Colleges. Fund at County level and make up the difference with higher non-county resident tuition. If that isn't enough, then get rid of a couple of them. Technical schools should be the same. After you do this, redistribute their previously state allocated funds to true STATE Universities.

Next -- divert a greater amount of funds out of the State Lottery system to the State Universities. A measly amount from the Economic development side of the lottery goes to Universities already but a seriously larger amount is wasted on other Economic Development.

Low to no-interest loans -- what a farce! All the State Universities are STATE PROPERTY! Their problems and deferred maintenance are STATE PROBLEMS! STATE GOVERNMENT wants to give ITSELF a no-low interest loan?

Increase State Sales tax from 5.3 to 5.5 and divert the additional 0.2 to STATE Universities.

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booze_buds_03 7 years ago

STRS-Also tie your mouth shut so we dont have to hear your garbage

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SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years ago

Tie the cost of education, eg. repairs, to those who are getting the education, ie. students.

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KUGreenMachine 7 years ago

hmmm....this is strange. i've heard of KU or University of Kansas, but what in the heck is Kansas University? geeze, you think living in lawrence you would know what that big university is called by now....

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Bowhunter99 7 years ago

if regent counties are forced to pay for it, then regent counties ought to be able to charge a special 'out of county' tuition fee to the rest of in-state students.

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KS 7 years ago

When they "gotta" pay the money back, they just might be a little more careful with it. Not really a bad idea.

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