Republican budget writers Wednesday sliced $75.6 million from the higher education budget for the next fiscal year.
Reggie Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Board of Regents, called the recommendation forwarded by the House Appropriations Committee "profoundly troubling."
The proposal, which now goes to the full House, would remove all state funding from Kansas' 10 technical colleges and schools, and most of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' proposed budget increases for universities, including Kansas University.
"The committee's recommendations constitute a serious setback that we must now work to overcome as the budget process continues," Robinson said.
But Appropriations Chairwoman Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington, said the committee was exercising restraint, and would revisit many of the proposed cuts at the end of the legislative session.
"We have identified areas that we will review during the omnibus session," Schwartz said. Omnibus refers to the final days of the session when state budget negotiators usually hash out a final spending plan.
Schwartz said with legislative commitments to public school funding and transportation, there is little discretionary funding left for Democrat Sebelius' proposals. House Republicans also are pushing for major tax cuts for businesses.
Concerning the $37.2 million cut of all state assistance to vocational and technical schools, Schwartz said it was prudent to wait on their funding until a commission reports later this session on ways to realign the schools.
She said she was confident that funding would be restored to the vocational and technical schools.
The proposed budget also would scrub Sebelius' $30 million increase to the six public universities, an approximately 5 percent increase, for the year starting July 1.
In all, the state's public universities received $611.9 million this year from the state's general fund. Of that, KU's Lawrence campus received $145 million, and KU Medical Center received $116 million.
The committee also reduced Sebelius' budget for community colleges and scholarship funds for low-income students.
Democrats refused to sign off on the budget report when it came out of the education subcommittee.
Rep. Bill Feuerborn, of Garnett, the ranking Democrat on the full Appropriations committee, said the budget was troubling.
"When you pull out that much money, the regents should be concerned," Feuerborn said.
He said the proposal was simply a way for Republicans to diminish Sebelius' budget proposals.
He also said it hurt the budget process by leaving crucial decisions to the end of the session instead of hashing them out now at the subcommittee and committee level.