Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of funding for a state economic development agency could cost Kansas University the equivalent of 18 positions dedicated to high-level research, a school official said Tuesday.
“The loss of these positions would be painful,” said Lynn Bretz, a university spokeswoman. “They’re not insignificant.”
On Monday, Sebelius applied a line-item veto in the state budget to the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp., saying that the agency was failing to do a good job in accomplishing its mission of helping develop and promote technology-based economic development.
“KTEC, under its current organization and operation, has struggled to produce a solid return on our investment in recent years,” Sebelius said. She added that “it makes little sense to use the same system and expect different results.”
The action means that KTEC will lose its $12 million in funding for the fiscal year that starts July 1, unless the Legislature overrides Sebelius’ veto, which would take a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate, or pushes through funding in another bill. Lawmakers return April 29 for a wrap-up session.
Leaders of KTEC and several high-ranking legislators have vowed to try to restore funding to the agency.
Bretz said KTEC funding provides about $1 million for the equivalent of 18 positions, all in research fields at KU.
Those researchers are working on cancer treatment drugs, sustainable energy and telecommunications, she said.
Sebelius’ veto puts those positions at risk, Bretz said.
If the veto held, “we would certainly do our best to find other funding sources,” Bretz said. But, she added, because of recent cuts to higher education, it would be difficult to come up with that funding.