Archive for Friday, May 9, 2008

Budget includes bonds for pharmacy school

Legislature OKs $50M expansion for KU

May 9, 2008

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— For the Kansas University School of Pharmacy, the Legislature's final budget bill was just what the doctor ordered.

"We were sitting on the edge of our seat wondering what would happen," Kenneth Audus, dean of the pharmacy school, said Thursday.

Before shutting down the 2008 legislative session late Wednesday, lawmakers approved the so-called omnibus budget, which included $50 million in bonds for pharmacy school expansion.

The funds will go toward construction of a new building on the West Campus in Lawrence and adding on to an existing building in Wichita.

The school's plan is to nearly double - from 105 to 190 - the number of pharmacy students admitted to KU each year to help fill a shortage of pharmacists statewide.

But while the project enjoyed support from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and legislative leaders, the method of financing produced some confrontation.

Lawmakers approved a method during the first part of the legislative session, but Sebelius vetoed that.

Under the first legislative plan, three separate funds would have been established to dole out revenue from future casinos. And one of those funds would have gone toward retiring the debt on the bonds for the pharmacy expansion.

But Sebelius said setting up the funds and designating how much went to each one "would limit the flexibility of future Legislatures to target gaming receipts toward the most important and pressing needs of the state."

She applied a line-item veto on the provision.

When the Legislature returned for the wrap-up session, lawmakers went back and forth on finance plans.

Eventually, they approved the bond authority over a three-year period. The bonds still will be paid off through gambling revenue, although lawmakers said if the gambling revenue fails to come through, then taxpayers will be on the hook to pay off the bonds.

Now, Audus said, KU can move forward with taking bids from architects.

Sebelius still has to sign the budget, but there seemed to be no concern on that front because she listed the bond proposal as one of the accomplishments of the legislative session.

Comments

Godot 7 years, 3 months ago

The supposed tax windfall from the gaming industry may never come to fruition. It is a good thing not to plan to fund a $50,000,000 project on a cash cow that hasn't even been born yet.Why are we putting the state deeper into debt to build new buildings when the issue of funding neglected maintenance of existing structures has not been addressed? The legislature and governor should have told KU that, if it can raise the money for the buildings through the endowment association, including a fund for future maintenance, the legislature would allow them to build the buildings, period.

booze_buds_03 7 years, 3 months ago

They are state buildings, thus state resposibility to maintain them.

davidsmom 7 years, 3 months ago

It doesn't make sense to build new buildings or new wings on old ones when you can't afford to maintain what you already have.

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