- 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)
How they voted
The proposed $630 million, five-year plan to address deferred maintenance at institutions of higher education.
The measure was approved in the Senate, 36-4.
Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, voted for it.
A motion to accept the plan in the House failed 51-71.
Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, voted to accept the Senate plan.
Reps. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, and Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, voted against the Senate plan.
Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the Kansas Board of Regents and the state Senate on Friday pushed for passage of a $630 million, five-year plan to repair buildings and infrastructure at state universities.
But the proposal got demolished in the House after conservatives started referring to it as the "$1 billion plan."
State Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington, added up the new funds and universities' current spending on maintenance for five years to come up with the billion-dollar figure.
"Think through this and what kind of commitment you are making," Schwartz said.
But state Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said it was misleading to call it a $1 billion expenditure because the proposal included $200 million in loans that the universities had to pay back and hundreds of millions of dollars in other costs that would not affect the state's tax-supported general fund.
Nevertheless, Davis' motion to accept the Senate proposal failed 51-71.
House members planned to try again today to fashion a compromise on deferred maintenance and the final budget of the session. Meanwhile, the Senate ran out of bills to work on and adjourned until Monday, which means the wrap-up session that started Wednesday will spill into another week.
House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said state Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, and state Rep. Bill Feuerborn, D-Garnett, were working on a new maintenance plan.
Asked if that would win approval, Neufeld said, "This time of year, you don't want to project too far ahead."
Earlier, momentum seemed to be building after the Senate voted 36-4 for the $630 million plan.
The deferred maintenance issue has been the top priority of universities, including Kansas University, all year. The schools have claimed a backlog of $663 million worth of repairs on their campuses.
Sebelius praised the Senate plan, saying the longer the Legislature waited, the more expensive the problem would get.
"I think it's the old adage that if you're in a hole, stop digging," she said. "What we need are world-class universities if we're going to keep good jobs in Kansas ... so allowing these buildings to deteriorate is just not a very sensible approach."
But when the proposal crossed the Capitol rotunda into the House, it ran into trouble.
Conservatives said the price tag was too high.
State Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, said it was unfair to give the regents an increase in funding after the universities had implemented steep tuition increases over the past five years.
Schwartz urged her colleagues to hold off voting for the Senate plan to allow consideration of a smaller plan that was approved earlier Friday in the Appropriations Committee.
But Davis said there was no way for the Legislature to get around paying the bill.
"We have to pay for this either now or later," Davis said. "If we put this off farther, it's just going to cost us more money."
Universities have said inadequate funding over the years had led to hundreds of needed repairs, some critical to ensure the safety of students.
So far this year, numerous ideas have been floated to pay for the repairs, including increases in taxes, tuition and turnpike tolls. But none of those took hold.
When the Legislature, however, adopted a plan earlier this session to expand casino gambling, higher education officials quickly staked their hopes to capturing some of those gambling dollars.