Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2007

Deferred maintenance plan clears House

April 29, 2007


Budget issues

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.

— 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.


ASBESTOS 11 years, 1 month ago

HOw about all the asbestos and lead at all those old buildings?

Is KDHE going to do the asbestos inspections for the universities? Is KDHE going to enforce asbestos regs on this repair on the old buildings. Remember that a "project" in Kansas is anything that disturbes asbestos (friable or that rendered friable) containing materials in the 10 square feet or 25 linear feet. So a lot of those projects can become "asbestos projects". Be interesting to see if the KDHE notifications level goes up in the future. It now stands at around 1242 notifications per year for the entire state of Kansas including all demolitions and all renovations over the 10/25 threshold. As you can see the asbestos program in Kansas is in the toliet.

Additionally, I do not think the money was put in for asbestos or lead abatement. remember Kansas got an exemption to continue using lead based paint until the 1991 time frame. So we got lead in those buildings too.

There will be thousands of construction and restoration employees that will get exposed and develope related diseases, (because of KDHE and the lack luster enforcement of these concerns) and there wil be thousands of students, university employees, and public also exposed to the contamination.

Hop[e they factored that in. Usually these "patch and repair" jobs have the highest level of asbestos released because the engineering controls used are substandard.

oldgoof 11 years, 1 month ago

asbestos, the university has fully qualified and trained asbestos abatement crews and policies. If they are breaking any laws, please contact the chancellor and the u.s. attorneys office.

ASBESTOS 11 years, 1 month ago

Unh, Old dummy, "the University" ? This is not for "the university" such as KU. it is for "all state universities". You are pathetic. Yes KU does have an asbestos removal team, but they are too slow and too expensive to use in major contracts. If KU had them, how come they were not doing their maintenance then wise guy???


"If they are breaking any laws, please contact the chancellor and the u.s. attorneys office."

No that would be EPA or the KDHE who is supposed to take care of it.

You are not so fast in the AM are you! You just have a beef with me because you have a friend at KDHE????

ASBESTOS 11 years, 1 month ago

Again Old Dummy, are you sure if the rest of the Universities have the proper people and training??? Again you illustrate your short sidedness, and lack of sunderstanding of facilities management and construction!

Pretty big assumption to make on your part, but one everyone has expected from your postings.

oldgoof 11 years, 1 month ago

You are right on this one asbestos, I do not know about other universities. But I stand by what I said about KU. These R&R monies will be used for all size of contracts, so like you say, I presume KU will do some, and some will be externally contracted, but so what. Again say if laws have been violated, contact the authorities. You always harp about KDHE, and scream about violations of this or that. I am just suggesting if violations of the law should be prosecuted. If KDHE, or KU are violating a criminal law, contact prosecutor. If you don't, you are wrong or a bag of gas. Or perhaps both. Complaining on this board in the manner you do educates nobody about the issue. Nor amounts to a whit. . oh, and asbestos again looking for a secret agenda. I think I have met through business maybe three people who now work at KDHE. None would consider me a friend or acquaintance, and vice versa. My motivation is from the repeated irritation of reading your rants and wanting to correct the record for others for once.

ASBESTOS 11 years, 1 month ago

"Corredting the record" on something you do not know about and do not understand.

Your moniker is correct then.

oldgoof 11 years, 1 month ago

asbestos, calling names without facts. feel better?

Godot 11 years, 1 month ago

Apparently, in Massachusetts, and Nebraska, the university administrators, and the people responsible for maintenance, have taken more responsibility for the problem as well as the solution:

Godot 11 years, 1 month ago

The University of Toronto took the responsibility to find the funds for deferred maintenance, rather than looking to the taxpayers for a bail out. U of T even uses the interest earned on the endowment to fund its operations:

Godot 11 years, 1 month ago

Search "deferred maintenance university". It seems Kansas is rather unique in the public relations (aka propaganda) campaign that the Regents conducted to stir up emotion on the deferred maintenance issue. Nearly all other universities and regents systems have taken responsibility for the stewardship of their buildings, and for managing their budgets. Why is it that Kansas Board of Regents is so ineffectual? Why is there not a facilities management organization that is pro-active; where is the master plan based on such categories as "urgent," "needs repair soon" "can wait" and, "probably doesn't need to be fixed." Do we know what is the ratio of the deferred maintenance to the total replacement cost of all the buildings?

Other universities include maintenance as part of their operating budget. The universities are responsible for maintenance as a part of their over all budget; they do not receive money that is designated specifically for maintenance, they do not complain that the legislature has not given them enough money: they plan for the repairs. Why haven't Kansas universities done this?

Before Kansas taxpayers devote any money to this neglected maintenance bail out request, the taxpayers should demand a complete overhaul of the way the universities are managed.

oldgoof 11 years, 1 month ago

Godot: Quoting a non-US university system is hardly helpful, and I am sure you understand there are variations in the 50 states, but let me try to answer some of your endless questions. . Many states handle appropriations to universities in a "block grant" basis, where a sum of money is given to the central board or universities and that is that. Not so in Kansas, Kansas appropriations contain lots of strings, lots of control. Universities are forced in many ways to be a part of state govt (accounting systems, HR systems, purchasing etc) So in Kansas, you should know that capital budgets and operational budget are separate.

The State Universities over the last decade have been working to achieve more independence (the so-called 'interest on tuition' was one of these) on specific issues.

But universities here have never been funded through a policy which would allow them to accumulate money for deferred maintenance issues. This is known by those legislators who care to understand the state budget. So state-by-state comparisons are not so useful. What might be more useful would be to look at other Kansas state agencies, and you will find this is the same case.

You state: "Other universities include maintenance as part of their operating budget." Not true either. In states where the Universities are truly "block granted" and given considerable latitude, this is probably true. In states like Kansas, where legislators like to continue to enact policies like "no pc computer purchases this year" or "no new vehicle purchases this year" or "state agencies can only buy furniture from the Kansas State Prison" or "printer cartridges can only come from blind workshops (at twice the cost).... such is not the case.

You ask: "Do we know what is the ratio of the deferred maintenance to the total replacement cost of all the buildings?"

I actually have seen that and might be able to find it for you online. I will look The regents do compile an annual list building by building with all of this information, and I am sure you can get a copy from them if it is not online.

Godot 11 years, 1 month ago

oldgoof, thank you. Like I said, there is a big problem with the management of the universities, and major, major change is needed. Micro-managing funding, with no oversight of the expenditures, is the problem. This results in no accountability, and continual conflict and finger pointing between the legislature and the administrators of the regents institutions.

The State needs to give the Board of Regents a block of money, period. The only string attached should be that the universities cannot come back and ask for more. Let the administrators and the regents figure out how to live on their budget.

A constitutional amendment limiting amount of the state budget allocated to institutions of higher learning to a certain percentage might be in order. That might even be an incentive for the universities to foster economic development.

Godot 11 years, 1 month ago

Also, paid university administrators should not be allowed to serve as legislators acting as nothing other than a taxpayer paid lobbyist for the university, and a guaranteed vote for anything the chancellor wants.

oldgoof 11 years, 1 month ago

Godot says: "The State needs to give the Board of Regents a block of money, period. The only string attached should be that the universities cannot come back and ask for more. Let the administrators and the regents figure out how to live on their budget." . Well you and the Chancellor would agree on this one. But it has to be a true block grant.... not one with strings and not one that can get whacked without rationality. That also means the legislature has to keep their hands off of tuition. And it has to be funded at a level to take care of things like deferred maintenance. . Constitutional amendments like you suggest sound like TABOR, and those things are wrapping states in knots so tight that the politicians adopting them now want them repealed. I too think they are bad.

Godot 11 years, 1 month ago

oldgoof, the "percent for higher ed" that I propose may seem TABOR-esque (a theory I support), but that does not make it wrong.

At this point, there is no control over the amount of the Kansas budget that goes toward higher ed, other than the wish lists from the various universities, and the political power of their respective representatives.

Let Kansans decide what share of the tax dollar pie they are willing to allocate to higher ed, and let it be an amount that is relative to the total tax revenue of Kansas.

Godot 11 years, 1 month ago

If you are unwilling to accept the concept of TABOR, you are unwilling to accept the fact that the amount of government we have today is (more than) sufficient. In other words, you think government should grow faster than the economy does.

I do not support the idea of an ever-expanding government.

oldgoof 11 years, 1 month ago

Godot: I am unwilling to accept TABOR because I believe in representative bodies. TABOR ties the hands of those I elect, and is based on a set of assumptions for a day which then get locked into the constitution. Again, I say visit with people in Colorado, who find TABOR destroying their local communities. .. I also note that TABOR is primarily funded by super-rich families, including one in Kansas, who like to harp about taxes. They have philosophies which parallel those from Enron. .

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