- Regents report says repairs would help state economy (03-23-07)
- Time running out for repair proposals (03-22-07)
- Committee nixes governor's plan for turnpike toll increase (03-14-07)
- Community colleges face big repair bills (03-14-07)
- House gets KU Hospital proposal (03-07-07)
- Senatorsuggests selling KU Hospital to fund $660M in university repairs (03-01-07)
- Task force can't agree on regents repair plan (02-20-07)
Topeka Douglas County residents could face a tax increase to pay for repairs at Kansas University under a plan proposed by House Republican leaders Wednesday.
The bill would also increase tuition for non-resident students and prohibit schools, such as KU, from dedicating portions of tuition increases to providing student financial aid.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington, said the measure represented a good starting point of discussion to try to fix maintenance problems at higher education institutions.
"We may need to tweak some things, but at the same time I feel this at least a step in the right direction to try to address the issue of deferred maintenance," Schwartz said.
Under House Bill 2593, counties that are home to regents schools would be allowed to increase the sales tax by one-tenth of one cent to help finance infrastructure improvements. Bill sponsors said the plan also allowed for a property tax increase, although the language for that was not in the draft legislation.
The tax increases would be decided by the county commissioners.
Universities, including KU, have said they have a $663 million backlog of repairs and maintenance projects on their campuses.
The bill would also increase non-resident student tuition with the revenue going toward maintenance. In addition, it would make $300 million available for low-interest loans to regents schools and community colleges.
Reggie Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Board of Regents, opposed the measure.
He said limiting tax increases to counties where state universities are located "appears to imply that the responsibility of taking care of state buildings rests with entities other than the state of Kansas and with only a subset of Kansas citizens."
Schwartz said the committee would continue discussing the measure next week.
Lawmakers have failed to come up with a plan to address deferred maintenance, although numerous proposals have been floated.