Archive for Monday, November 24, 2008

Make the case

Budget cuts for the state’s higher education system won’t be painless.

November 24, 2008


The Kansas Board of Regents is right not to be too accepting of budget cuts being considered by the state. In difficult economic times, everyone must expect to feel a certain amount of pain, but that doesn’t mean they should bear that pain without a howl.

At their meeting this week, the regents accepted a 3 percent budget cut for the current fiscal year, but asked state officials to reconsider an additional 4 percent cut being proposed for next fiscal year. They also asked the state to look again at its cuts for special projects outside the budgets, including $15 million for deferred maintenance and $15 million to expand the Kansas University School of Pharmacy.

As members of the regents pointed out, even if the funding eventually is cut, the board should defend its institutions. Being too accepting of cuts, they said, only makes it seem that the loss of funds isn’t significant — which it clearly is. Even the 3 percent cut in the current year will cause universities to tighten their belts; another 4 percent on top of that for the following year will have a serious impact on university staffing and services.

Eliminating spending on maintenance may seem like an easy target, but it is a silly move. Not only do those projects provide jobs in the state, but putting off this maintenance only worsens the problem and increases the cost of correcting it. The expansion of the pharmacy school may not seem like an urgent need, but KU has the only pharmacy school in the state, and increasing the number of graduates is important to meeting the demand for additional pharmacists.

The regents also are right to be concerned about any effort to try to make up for lost funding by charging university students more. The board is being asked to consider raising housing and dining rates for students who live in campus housing by about 5 percent. Regent Gary Sherrer accurately noted that those increases would have to be paid by students and their families and that adjustments that were higher than the rate of inflation simply weren’t appropriate in the current economic climate.

With state revenues on the decline, budget cuts will be necessary, but the governor and state legislators need to carefully consider where those cuts occur. Even if higher education has to accept some reductions, it’s still important for the Board of Regents to make lawmakers understand the serious impact those cuts have on the state.


LogicMan 9 years, 5 months ago

"need to carefully consider where those cuts occur."K-12 and social programs need to share equally in the cuts. Higher Ed and other programs, which make up the minority of the State's budget, can't absorb it all.

justthefacts 9 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon your view point, the K-12 funding is tied to a court case that basically tied the Legislature's hands for years to come (the S. Ct. of Kansas' judges set the levels of funding they believed to be Constitutional). So that 50%+ of all the budget cannot be touched. Add to that 50% the 25% of the budget that make up social welfare programs funding (e.g. Aid to dependent children, old people, and the disabled) that is matched by the federal government - in some cases - which would be lost if we don't match it) and that means the other 25% of all other expenditures is what is going to have to be cut to break even. That for sure means no raises for any state employee, and they'll be lucky to keep their jobs. Since most of the other workers will be facing the same economy, that's probably more then fair. However, things like road repairs, building repairs, etc. are also going to have to be ignored (unless we suddenly find gold in Kansas). I have been saying for years that we've all been robbing Peter to pay Paul. Well now Peter wants to be repaid. No more living the good life. Learn to plant a garden and forage for food.

Stephen Roberts 9 years, 4 months ago

A good way to reduce costs or increase revenue is the justice system. Increase the fees the state courts charge. With an increase in court fees, the state can reduce their funding. A few years ago Gov. Sebelius dictated that more of the Secretary of State's budget come from fees. Fees to keep in good standing were increased.

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