Archive for Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sebelius signs plan for university repairs

May 15, 2007

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— A five-year maintenance plan for the state's crumbling higher education buildings is just a first step in dealing with a backlog of long-neglected repairs, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Monday as she signed the plan into law.

The $380 million package was the result of a legislative compromise between a $313 million House proposal and a $630 million plan supported by the Senate.

"This is a good first step, but it's only a first step. We still have critical needs at our regents universities and at other state buildings and they won't be addressed in this one action," Sebelius said. "I plan on revisiting this issue with legislators when they return next year."

The governor also signed a bill that creates the Postsecondary Technical Education Authority, which will coordinate the state's technical education programs, and establishes the Kansas Technical College and Technical School Commission, which will study the governance, funding and mission of Kansas technical schools and colleges.

Both bills take effect May 24.

The Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees the higher education system, estimates its six universities - including Kansas University - have a $663 million backlog of repair projects and need an additional $69 million a year to keep the backlog from growing.

Regents President Reggie Robinson said while the new law is a start, "This legislation falls significantly short of the kind of comprehensive solution that would adequately and ultimately address this difficult issue."

The plan earmarks $90 million in general revenue and authorizes $100 million in bonds to pay for projects at community colleges, vocational schools and Washburn University in Topeka. It also assumes $120 million in private donations, prompted by tax credits for such donations.

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