Archive for Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pine, Francisco say bill a just first step

May 1, 2007


How they voted

How they voted

Here's how Lawrence area legislators voted on the university repairs plan.


¢ Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence¢ Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence¢ Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence¢ Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence¢ Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City


¢ Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora¢ Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence

A look at the repair plan

Here's a summary of the plan legislators approved to fix deteriorating buildings on higher education campuses.

The plan

¢ Sets aside $90 million in state revenues over five years to address a backlog of repairs on state university campuses.

¢ Authorizes $62.5 million in tax credits over four years, starting July 1, 2008, to lure $120 million in private donations to universities, community colleges, vocational schools and Washburn University of Topeka.

¢ Permits $20 million in state-issued bonds each year for five years, for a total of $100 million, to pay for projects at Washburn, community colleges and vocational schools. While the institutions would pay off the bonds, the state would pick up interest costs in those years.

— Lawrence legislators said Monday that their support of the $380 million, five-year plan to repair universities represented only the first step in addressing the problem of deferred maintenance.

"I do not believe that this is the complete answer," said Sen. Roger Pine, a Republican. "It's a start and it's getting us headed down the right direction, but we certainly have more work to do."

Sen. Marci Francisco, a Democrat, agreed.

"It may be a small step, but it's a first step. I don't think the discussion on this has ended," she said.

Both senators represent the city with the largest university in the state, Kansas University.

The six Kansas Board of Regents universities had said because of inadequate funding over the years, the schools had amassed $663 million in needed repairs and maintenance. The price tag for KU alone was $181 million for the Lawrence campus and $72 million for KU Medical Center.

And while the regents criticized the plan approved Monday as too small, Francisco and Pine said the measure represented possibly the last chance of compromise as lawmakers sought to finish the wrap-up session.

"I had talked with some representatives of the House, and they were not sure that if we voted it down that it would be possible to get a different bill through this year," Francisco said.

Pine had the same feeling.

"I believe that that was the only plan that was going to come out of here this session," he said.

All Lawrence and area legislators voted for the new plan except for Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, who had earlier supported a larger plan, and Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, who had earlier supported a smaller plan.

Regents officials also read the political mood and vowed to continue the fight next year.

"Because the university maintenance backlog will continue to grow under this plan, we look forward to working with state policymakers next legislative session to produce a maintenance funding package that truly enables us to ultimately solve this problem," said Reginald Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the regents.

Regents officials already have tried to stake claim to a portion of the expected revenue from the new law expanding slots and casino gambling.

Some key lawmakers have agreed that it would be appropriate to use new gambling revenue for deferred maintenance.


Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 10 months ago

You just knew this article was coming. Just wait until the state owned casinos get in on the act and want to be remodeled so they can keep up with the ones in Missouri. What fools we are. Worse yet, what crooks we elect.

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