Archive for Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Tuition increase on the table

Legislators consider ways to fund repairs at regents schools

February 7, 2007


— State lawmakers Tuesday considered numerous ways to pay for a backlog of repairs at universities, including allowing schools to increase tuition.

Sen. Jean Kurtis Schodorf, R-Wichita, chairwoman of a Senate task force looking at the crumbling classrooms problem, said lawmakers faced unpopular choices.

"Any source of revenue, somebody is not going to like," Schodorf said.

Kansas Board of Regents universities, including Kansas University, have told lawmakers they need about

$660 million to take care of maintenance problems, some of which are hazardous.

Last week, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius proposed increasing tolls on the Kansas Turnpike as part of a $575 million package for the universities.

But that plan has met stiff opposition.

"It has potholes," said Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe.

Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, said most people are opposed to using turnpike tolls for anything other than improvements to the turnpike.

On Tuesday, the Senate task force floated proposals to increase tuition a maximum of $5 per hour for Kansas students and $15 per hour for out-of-state students for maintenance projects.

Brownlee said the Legislature should look at the possibility of dedicating funds from athletic ticket sales to the repair problem.

Task force members also talked about using Kansas Lottery funds for repairs. They were scheduled to put a final package together today.

Brownlee blamed university officials for allowing the deferred maintenance to pile up.

"Things should have never gotten to this point," she said.

But Apple defended the universities, saying they did the best they could with limited maintenance funding. The problem was made worse during tight budget years, he said.


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