Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Task force can’t agree on regents repair plan

February 20, 2007

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Kansas universities are in the midst of a serious crisis

With universities across the state in need of major repairs, Deferred Maintenance is on the top of many lawmakers minds. Enlarge video

— Tax increases, casino gambling, turnpike tolls and student fees were among a smorgasbord of possible solutions that a Senate task force proposed Monday to pay for major repairs at the state's six public universities.

The failure to come up with a specific recommendation shows the severity of the problem, said Sen. Jean Kurtis Schodorf, R-Wichita, task force chairwoman.

"It was difficult for people to make choices. This was the best we could do," Schodorf said. "It doesn't have to be pretty."

The task force has been meeting for more than a month, studying the $660 million in repair and maintenance projects plaguing the schools, including Kansas University.

But in the end, task force members couldn't agree on a definite plan.

Instead, the task force came up with two major options to generate approximately $100 million per year to chip into the backlog of repairs, which university officials say have built up because of years of underfunding.

One proposal calls for a single source of ongoing revenue, such as expansion of gambling.

The other option includes multiple sources of revenue, including a property tax increase of 1 mill, a $5 to $15 per-credit-hour maintenance fee on students, a one-tenth of a cent increase in the sales tax in counties that have public universities, and a 10 percent surcharge on ticket sales for university events.

Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, noted that many of the proposals were controversial "but could be part of a final plan."

Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, Janis Lee, D-Kensington, and David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, voted against the multiple revenue source option.

The task force also identified as a viable option Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' proposal to increase turnpike tolls as part of a $575 million, six-year plan.

Schodorf predicted it will become more difficult to agree on a funding plan as the session, now near the halfway point, progresses.

The maintenance problem has increased year after year because lawmakers have been unable to make the tough choices to fund the repairs, she said.

"The reason we haven't done this before : we haven't been able to get the votes," she said.

Despite the lack of a specific recommendation, Kip Peterson, a spokesman for the Kansas Board of Regents, said he was pleased with the task force's work.

"All seven members of the task force agree that deferred maintenance is a serious issue that has to be addressed," Peterson said. "I'm optimistic a comprehensive funding solution will soon be identified."

Comments

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 2 months ago

Sure just keep on taxes the cities that have the universities. If they are truly "the Property of the Poeple of Kansas." Why not increase the state sales tax alittle across the state? That would make ALL of Kansas pay for it. Or would it make to much common sense?

bd 8 years, 2 months ago

If ALL of Kansas pays for it, then any Kansas taxpayers child should be able to attend these schools???!

oldgoof 8 years, 2 months ago

Bd asks:"If ALL of Kansas pays for it, then any Kansas taxpayers child should be able to attend these schools" . any Kansas taxpayers child who successfully completes regents curriculum with a B average IS able to attend these colleges. There are no enrollment caps or competitive admissions for general admission. Some programs within the schools are more competitive.

justthefacts 8 years, 2 months ago

That's right, just keep giving more and more money to the same group of people who decided to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a consultant who picked out a new font to write "KU" and millions on more trees and shrubs - instead of using that money to repair buildings. That will teach them how to spend our more money more wisely.... Big heavy sigh.

bd 8 years, 2 months ago

oldgoof, Ok, so the poor schmuck kansas taxpayer who's kids don't meet the restricted admission standards still helps pay for all of the other students who do!(instate & out of state). ??? does that seems fair! User fees seem like the only way to pay!

jayrock 8 years, 2 months ago

graduates from universitys improve the state as a whole everyone benifits from having teachers, doctors, ect. Everyone who is capable is allowed into state universities but yes not everyone is capable.....that is simply a fact of life

oldgoof 8 years, 2 months ago

bd: You simply don't get it. Admission is not currently restrictive. ANYONE who takes the courses and passes with a B meets them. The requirements are preparatory, not restrictuve. Other states have restrictive/competitive admission...with caps etc. Kansas does not.

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