- 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)
Topeka House and Senate leaders agreed Sunday to a $410 million, five-year plan to repair buildings and utilities at state higher education institutions, including Kansas University.
The compromise proposal will next go to the full House and Senate this week as lawmakers hope to finish the 2007 legislative session.
"I think it's going to pass both chambers," said state Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, and the Senate's chief negotiator on the bill.
"Considering the environment under the dome this year, I think it's the best we could do," Umbarger said. "It does not resolve all of the challenges that the Kansas Board of Regents are facing, but I think it's a step in the right direction."
Action by the House-Senate conference committee represented an important step in lawmakers addressing what the regents have said is a $663 million backlog of repair projects, ranging from crumbling classrooms to rupturing utility lines to dangerous electrical systems.
Regents Chairman Nelson Galle said the new proposal "would provide an important downpayment," but he added "this package obviously falls short" of a comprehensive solution.
"Until this five-year plan can be revisited, the maintenance backlog will continue to grow, and the problem will become even more expensive and more dangerous," Galle said.
He noted the proposal provides $90 million in new and guaranteed state funds over the next five years - only 14 percent of the deferred maintenance needs. The rest of the funding is in the form of tax credits to lure private donations and $100 million in state-issued bonds, which the state would pay off.
State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said she understood the regents' concern.
But because of budget problems, including a recent settlement between the state and federal government over disputed Medicaid costs that will cost the state nearly $100 million over the next year, Ballard said this was probably the most the state could afford for the colleges.
"It will certainly get us started on those projects, and even if you received more money, you couldn't use it all at once anyway," Ballard said.
Both Umbarger and Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said in future years, revenue from newly approved casinos probably will be allocated to maintenance costs.
"We'll be able to use that gaming revenue to greatly enhance the deferred maintenance needs of the universities," Hensley said.
A law passed this year allows the construction of four resort-type casinos and the addition of slot machines at pari-mutuel tracks. It is expected to face a legal challenge.
When the House-Senate conference committee began meeting Saturday, the House had approved a $313 million, five-year plan, while the Senate had endorsed a $630 million plan over five years.
University repair plan
A summary of the plan to fix deteriorating buildings on higher education campuses, drafted Sunday by House and Senate negotiators.
¢ Sets aside $90 million in state revenues over five years to address a backlog of repairs on state university campuses.
¢ Authorizes $62.5 million in tax credits over four years, starting July 1, 2008, to lure $120 million in private donations to universities, community colleges, vocational schools and Washburn University of Topeka.
¢ Permits $20 million in state-issued bonds each year for five years, for a total of $100 million, to pay for projects at Washburn, community colleges and vocational schools. The state would make $38 million in bond payments in those years.
Fiscal year 2008: $50.9 million
FY 2009: $66.2 million
FY 2010: $86.5 million
FY 2011: $104.3 million
FY 2012: $102.5 million
Total: $410.4 million
Total 5-year costs
University repairs: $183.8 million
Repairs, other campuses: $126.0 million
Additional state costs: $100.6 million