Archive for Thursday, March 22, 2007

Time running out for repair proposals

Lawmakers have two weeks to agree on funding plan for universities before first adjournment

March 22, 2007

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— To pay for a backlog of repairs at Regents universities, some lawmakers have floated proposed increases in tuition, taxes and turnpike tolls.

All have met strong opposition.

"There's something about those 'T' words that sets everybody off," Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, joked Wednesday.

Now lawmakers are fighting another 'T' word: time. There is less than two weeks left before the first adjournment of 2007 legislative session.

On Wednesday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on a new proposal - Senate Bill 377 - but didn't get much further toward resolving the problem.

"Hopefully before too long we'll come up with a solution," said Chairman Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer.

The Kansas Board of Regents has said the state's six public universities need about $660 million to make numerous repairs and renovations on their campuses. Some of the repairs are needed for health and safety reasons, university officials have said.

Lawmakers have discussed the issue all session but have failed to come up with a solution.

Regents officials said they need about $100 million per year in maintenance funds to handle the problem - approximately $85 million more than they currently receive.

"The problem is critical and the need is substantial," Diane Duffy, vice president of administration and finance for the Regents, said. "There is no easy solution."

SB 377 would provide about $43 million in the next fiscal year and allow the Regents to make no-interest loans for repairs.

But in discussing the problem, several senators said the Regents needed to do more than ask the Legislature for funding.

"This is a team effort," Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said. "What things are you doing to help us help you," she said.

And Sen. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, said universities should consider using their endowment funds to help pay for the deferred maintenance.

He said many people make contributions to the endowments with the understanding that the funds will go toward areas of greatest need. He said repairs could be considered great needs.

Comments

compmd 8 years, 5 months ago

I love the idea of raising tuition to cover the backlog. Its a fantastic idea. Some of our brilliant legislators are thinking, "Hey, the university administration screwed up, so let's punish the students and not hold dear old Bob Hemenway and his cronies accountable! Brilliant!"

I think some cluebattery in the first degree is necessary for those folks.

Jamesaust 8 years, 5 months ago

Well, gee, when the money wasn't spend but rather returned as (unaffordable) tax cuts, wouldn't it make sense then that the tax programs that banked the cuts now need to see increases? If memory serves, that was the Kansas State Income Tax program.

But that'll never happen as it would require admitting that the tax cuts couldn't be afforded and that they were election gimmicks.

justthefacts 8 years, 5 months ago

Wasn't the lottery/state-operated gambling originally approved by voters based upon the statements that money earned from it would be used (exclusively) to fund schools? Where's the $$?

If the Regents want more money to fix buildings (a noble goal), tell them to stop spending so much to pay for stupid or unnecessary things (like what - $80,000 to get a consultant's opinion on what font to use to write out KU?).....Or ask them to take a PAY CUT themselves!

james bush 8 years, 5 months ago

How about eliminating needless expenses like those for Women's Studies and Social Welfare!

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