Legislative proposals released in the last two days to address repairs at public universities fall short of what the schools say they need.
Still, higher education officials expressed optimism Tuesday.
"I am very pleased that together we are working as a team," said Nelson Galle, of Manhattan, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Galle said he wasn't familiar with details of the recent proposals, but said that because the issue is on the front burner, he had "great confidence" a solution could be reached.
Republicans, who have solid majorities in the House and Senate, unveiled their recommendations to kick off the 2007 legislative session this week.
On Monday, House Republicans said they would like to set aside a trust fund of $75 million for repairs and want a five-year plan from the regents that lists repair priorities building by building.
But studies commissioned by the regents carry a $727 million price tag - nearly 10 times the House amount - to address needed maintenance projects. Higher education officials say tight budgets in recent years have driven up the repair costs because schools delayed maintenance.
The Senate appointed a task force Tuesday that will start meeting immediately to draw up a plan.
"We know what the problem is. We want to come up with a solution," said Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, who will be the chairwoman of the task force, which also will focus on concerns about rising tuition and calls for better coordination of vocational education.
Schodorf said she had no specific dollar amount in mind but said the House GOP's $75 million "seemed a bit low."
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, has said she will unveil a plan for maintenance and repairs either during tonight's State of the State address or when she releases her budget proposal Thursday.
The regents have requested a "down payment" in the range of $175 million to $200 million.
Galle said even though the sides seem far apart now, everyone agrees the problem needs attention because ignoring it just increases the repair costs.
"When the roof leaks, you better fix it, or you'll end up replacing the carpet, too," he said.
Five reasons to tune in
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius tonight will deliver the State of the State address. Here are some reasons why Kansans should pay attention to the speech that can be heard live starting at 7 on Kansas Public Radio, KANU 91.5. ¢ Schools Sebelius plans to push for a phase-in of full-day kindergarten and beef up preschool programs. By the time of the speech, lawmakers already will have started the process of locking in the last year increase of the three-year, $466 million school plan. ¢ Higher education Sebelius has said she will unveil a plan to put a down payment on $727 million worth of repairs at state universities. ¢ Wallet Sebelius is seeking a cut of the tax that employers pay to cover unemployment benefits because she says that fund is overflowing. ¢ Health care Some 300,000 Kansans, more than one in 10, have no health insurance. Sebelius again will ask the Legislature to approve a plan that provides health insurance to all children ages 5 and under. ¢ Energy Numerous proposals are on the table, including incentives for expansion of wind energy.