- Senate's repair plan rejected by House (04-28-07)
- 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)
The final version of a bill wrapping up budget issues for the year will be drafted by House and Senate negotiators, who must reconcile several dozen differences between their chambers' rival versions of the measure.
But some issues were resolved Saturday, when the House passed its version. That's because the two chambers' measures agree in some places, and negotiators typically don't touch those sections.
Some key provisions upon which both chambers agree:
¢ MEDICAID SETTLEMENT: Set aside $45.6 million to replace federal Medicaid funds that were reclaimed by the federal government, which accused Kansans of improperly distributing money to school districts to reimburse them for providing services to special education students. State and federal government officials settled the issue; the money represents part of that settlement.
¢ SCHOOL FINANCE ADJUSTMENT: Add $29.9 million to state aid for school districts, to reflect higher-than-anticipated enrollments.
¢ COMMUNITY COLLEGES: Increase their state aid by 4 percent, which costs $3.8 million.
¢ NEW GAMBLING: Ten new jobs at the state Racing and Gaming Commission, to deal with a reopened Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac. A new law authorizes slot machines there. Cost is $1.4 million.
Topeka The Kansas House on Saturday approved a $313 million, five-year plan to pay for repairs at universities.
"It doesn't break the budget, but it does begin to address the problem," said state Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, who helped craft the bipartisan proposal.
While the 122-2 vote broke an impasse over deferred maintenance in the House, it set up a confrontation with the Senate, which has adopted a plan about twice as expensive.
House and Senate negotiators made no progress Saturday, huddling behind closed doors for hours at a time, then announcing that talks would continue today.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees state higher education, have pushed for the Senate plan.
Regents Chairman Nelson Galle called the House plan "a start, but it's certainly not a solution."
But Republicans and Democrats in the House said the Senate's $630 million, five-year plan was too expensive. Regents universities, including Kansas University, have claimed that inadequate funding over the years has resulted in a backlog of $663 million worth of repair and maintenance projects.
One of the major differences between the House and Senate proposals was that the Senate included a $200 million no-interest loan program for higher education institutions.
"In the House, there was a lot of resistance to the loan program in the Senate bill," said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.
Neufeld said a compromise must be reached before discussion could start on differences to the House and Senate final budget recommendations.
The House plan includes $20 million in additional funds this year for repairs and $15 million annually starting next year for four years.
It also includes $38 million in tax credits per year for five years for people making contributions to schools for repair projects. Several other funding add-ons make up the rest of the plan.
Some lawmakers said the tax credit plan would cause problems by diverting contributions away from school foundations by donors seeking a tax benefit.
State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, was one of the only two House members to vote against the House plan.
"I don't think all the of the necessary money is being made available," Sloan said. He also said he doubted the tax credit plan would raise as much as supporters of the bill said it would.
Galle said an analysis of the two plans shows that the House proposal would really provide $80 million in new funds over five years, while the Senate plan would inject $255 million in new monies.
"Overall, the Senate plan represents a significantly more meaningful and comprehensive approach for dealing with today's needs and the maintenance obligations of the future," he said.
A large part of the Senate plan relies on the new expanded casino law that under the proposal would bring $115 million to universities.