Topeka The idea of slot machine revenues for crumbling college classrooms went bust Wednesday as lawmakers started their wrap-up session.
But there's another game today as proposals to pay for repairs at universities are bound to come up as amendments when the House deals with its final budget bill.
Efforts at tackling the $663 million list of repair projects Wednesday, however, stumbled in the House Appropriations Committee.
- Nosolution in sight to fund deferred maintenance (04-21-07)
- Senatehas $525M plan for universities (04-20-07)
- Houseannounces plan to fund repairs (04-19-07)
- Regentsrepairs will require a lot of dough (04-18-07)
- Regentslobby for $47.7 million down payment on campus repairs (04-17-07)
- Sixuniversities in search of a state (04-15-07)
- Lawmakerblasts repair funding proposal (04-13-07)
- Regentsuse survey to appeal for repair funding (04-12-07)
- HouseBill 2593 (.pdf)
"There doesn't seem to be much support to address deferred maintenance at this time," said Chairwoman Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington.
Lawmakers have been fighting all year about ways to fund the repair backlog, which higher education officials have said has formed because of inadequate funding during the years. Proposals to increase taxes, tuition and turnpike tolls have all fallen by the wayside.
The Appropriations Committee discussed for several hours proposals that included dedicating one-third of expected revenue from the new law to expand casino gambling to university repairs.
But several committee members opposed that proposal, saying it was unwise to depend on gambling revenue that hasn't started coming in yet. The new law to allow resort-type casinos and slots at pari-mutuel tracks is expected to be challenged in court soon.
Another proposal, which would allow counties with regents schools, such as Douglas County, to increase their sales taxes for school repair projects was criticized.
State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said the local option tax would pass a state responsibility to local taxpayers.
"The institution is a state institution," Ballard said.
Some legislators complained that there was no comprehensive strategy to help community colleges and vocational schools.
No plan was able to muster the necessary votes and so Schwartz called it a day.
"I'm disappointed that the committee didn't take some action," she said.