Archive for Friday, February 9, 2007

Task force far from repair bill consensus

Panel will submit several deferred maintenance plans

February 9, 2007


— From higher taxes to higher student fees, a task force studying how to pay for a huge repair bill at state universities produced a lot of ideas but little consensus.

"We're not even close," said Sen. David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, as the task force finished its business Thursday.

Chairwoman Jean Kurtis Schodorf, R-Wichita, said the panel's report would offer lawmakers numerous options to consider.

"There is a general consensus on some of these, but it's hard to come up with a plan," Schodorf said.

Kansas' six regents universities have said inadequate funding has led to a backlog of approximately $660 million in maintenance and repairs. Community colleges say they need an additional $150 million for their facilities.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has recommended a package of $575 million over six years, which relies on increasing turnpike tolls, providing low-interest loans and setting aside $75 million in existing state revenue. The House already has approved a $75 million proposal.

But the Senate task force has been meeting for three weeks discussing alternatives.

Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, said cities, such as Lawrence, that have regents schools should consider increasing the local sales tax to help defray the repair bills. She also suggested schools should use revenue from tickets to athletic events.

Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, suggested allowing the universities to increase student fees up to $5 per credit hour for resident students and $15 per credit hour for nonresident students. He also said the state could divert lottery revenues toward the problem.

Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington, said the state should expand gambling and dedicate those revenues to the deferred maintenance.

And Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, recommended the schools be allowed to use more than $8 million in property that has been unclaimed for more than 21 years.

None of the proposals, however, generated unanimous support.

Kip Peterson, a spokesman for the Kansas Board of Regents, said the task force generated a lot of ideas that are worth considering.

"We appreciate their close attention. It's a tough and expensive issue," Peterson said.


SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years ago

Why didn't the universities bring this up when K-12 was clamoring for another $1 billion annually?

oldgoof 11 years ago

SettingtheRecord: Universities have made annual presentations on this issue to the legislature and relevant funding committees each of at least the last half dozen years.

SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years ago

The issue is clear.

Government agencies coordinate their annual/biennial big pushes for cash so taxpayers don't have a brain hemmorhage when they to realize exactly how much is being squeezed from them.

walleye9898 11 years ago

Universities have been singing this song every for at least 15+ years that I am aware of.

Turnpike fees -- no Additional tuition fees -- no Lottery/gambling -- good idea. Universities already get some money out of lottery but it is minimal and mostly for research/economic development.

Perhaps maybe we should get rid of at least 1 Regents institution ( I vote Washburn) and about 3-5 community colleges and divert their money to a better cause.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years ago

I am disgusted enough with the legislature, I would allow them to eliminate all State support to all post-secondary educational institutions in Kansas. Sell off the Universities and Colleges, given that the legislature doesn't seem to see that much value in them anyway. If the legislature doesn't want to take care of its nice things, maybe it shouldn't be allowed to have any.

Washburn is not really a Regents institution, walleye9898. Although the Board of Regents has some coordinating authority, its primary financial support is through Shawnee County.

Our elected representatives continue to prove to us that we get the government we deserve.


ASBESTOS 11 years ago

What always confuses me on these "Capital Improvements" arguments and debates in legislatures is that Usually, that is USUALLY there is someone in the debate bringing up the economic gain of such projects in the terms of sales tax generation and income tax generation from said captital improvement.

Why is the rebuilding and maintainence on University Buildings an expense while building a NEW university building or comples is an economic windfall? I do not see the difference.

Richard Heckler 11 years ago

Perhaps the schools can set up a tax exempt school buildings maintenance endowment program?

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