Topeka After approving tuition increases, higher education officials Thursday complained about decreasing state support for Kansas Board of Regents universities as they recommended an 8.7 percent increase in state funding for next year.
"Why do we keep increasing tuition? It's hard on Kansas families," Regent Dan Lykins said.
"Is the answer across the street?" he asked, referring to the Capitol, where Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Legislature hold the purse strings.
The regents approved tuition increases that included a 16 percent increase for incoming freshmen at Kansas University, although that rate will stay frozen for four years for those students.
This follows several years of double-digit tuition increases at regents universities.
Earlier, the regents recommended a $71.9 million, or 8.7 percent, increase in funding for the Legislature to consider in January 2008.
That would keep pace with inflation and start a five-year plan to lift Kansas into the top 15 states in state appropriations per student. Kansas currently ranks 31st.
Christine Downey-Schmidt, the newly elected regents chairwoman, said many in the public and Legislature failed to see the link between state appropriations and the quality of higher education.
KU Provost Richard Lariviere agreed.
"We have to do a better job of getting the word out to the voters about how important each of these institutions is to them," he said.
But he said higher education officials shouldn't blame legislators, because they are responding to constituents who often want to minimize taxes and government growth.