Topeka — Lawmakers have ordered higher education officials to pare down their $727 million repair bill, saying they don't want to pay for maintenance work at buildings such as Allen Fieldhouse.
Sen. Jean Kurtis Scho-dorf, R-Wichita, and chairwoman of a task force studying deferred maintenance, said Friday that legislators wanted the Kansas Board of Reg-ents to remove athletic facilities from the work list.
"By taking out athletic facilities and other items, that puts it in the $600 million range," Schodorf said. "That seems a little more reasonable."
For example, in Kansas University's list of $284 million in repairs, the school includes $8.1 million of work at Allen Fieldhouse, $3.3 million for Memorial Stadium and nearly $1 million for the chancellor's residence, guest house and garage.
Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, a member of the task force, said the goal was to remove facilities from the list that may be able to receive funding through other means.
Kip Peterson, a regents spokesman, said all buildings on the universities' deferred maintenance list are state buildings.
But, he said, lawmakers are uncomfortable dealing with repairs to buildings that aren't considered critical to the schools' mission.
"We have gone through the list to scrub out buildings, such as Allen Fieldhouse, and are working with campuses to do that.
"We should have a list that should be ready next week," Peterson said.
Also to be removed from the facilities audit for KU is $305,797 for the old multicultural resource building, which has been replaced by a new facility.
Peterson said the regents welcomed the scrutiny from lawmakers, saying it showed they are taking the issue seriously.
Over the course of testimony given to the task force the past week, Francisco said it had become apparent that the six regents universities would not be able to absorb more than $100 million per year in total for repair funds.
"When you are remodeling classrooms, you can only have so many that are out of use," she said.
On the House side, lawmakers have moved on a smaller package.
The Appropriations Committee on Friday recommended approval of a bill that would essentially free up $15 million in additional funds for repairs per year.
The provision is included in a politically popular measure that locks in the second and third years of funding for public schools contained in a three-year, $466 million increase.
Peterson said the deferred maintenance part of the bill would not be enough for colleges, but he called the measure "a good start" in the legislative process.