Topeka Lawmakers on Thursday wrestled with the issue of paying for hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs at public universities, hoping to get a plan together next week.
"We need a multiyear plan, and the needs are significant," said state Sen. Jean Kurtis Schodorf, R-Wichita, chairwoman of a Senate task force working on the issue.
The six Kansas Board of Regents universities have said they have a backlog of approximately $660 million in needed repairs, many of which are critical to the schools' operations.
Community colleges have weighed in with a list of $150 million worth of maintenance, and major state office buildings are in line for significant renovations.
"We have nearly a $1.5 billion deferred maintenance problem. This problem is never going to go away," said state Sen. David Wysong, R-Mission Hills.
Wysong said the state needed to dedicate a steady source of funding for repairs.
Other legislators said the universities also need to establish trust funds for repairs and actively seek private donations.
Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, said some of the buildings are in such disrepair, it may be better to build new facilities than try to rehabilitate old ones.
"I don't think we should be pouring state funding into rehabilitation for buildings that would be cheaper to replace," said Francisco, who works as a space analyst at Kansas University.
Schodorf said she hoped the task force would have a recommendation for the full Senate by Wednesday. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius also has vowed to unveil a plan by the end of the month.