Topeka 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.
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- Universitymaintenance crisis: Part 2 (02-01-07)
- Highertolls sought for repairs at universities (02-01-07)
- Lawmakersgrapple with university repairs (01-26-07)
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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.