Deep budget cuts to higher education under consideration in the Legislature will cause serious harm to Kansas University and jeopardize federal stimulus funds, officials said Wednesday.
Lawmakers have already cut 4.25 percent from the current higher education budget.
And because of sagging tax collections, some legislators have told higher education officials to prepare for cuts of 10 percent or more in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
KU Provost Richard Lariviere told the House budget subcommittee on education such a cut would “do serious and lasting damage.”
The reductions would lead to layoffs, crowded classes and a reduction in course offerings, Lariviere said.
“KU recognizes the need for cuts at this time, but we also recognize the need for prudence and balance in those cuts,” he said.
Budget cuts have a more dramatic effect on the KU Medical Center because it is more dependent on state general funds, said Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of KU Med.
In her testimony, Atkinson noted that a 15 percent reduction would mean a loss of $18.2 million at the medical center -- more than twice the size of the School of Nursing budget.
Atkinson said KU would never close the School of Nursing, but added that significant budget cuts would increase shortages of health care professional in Kansas.
“Considering the shortage we’re already facing, a further reduction would be devastating,” she said.
In addition, cutting too much in higher education would jeopardize a portion Kansas’ share of federal stimulus funds, according to Reggie Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the state must maintain funding for higher education at the 2006 level of $747 million, Robinson said. If the state does that, then it can access up to $82 million in the federal funds.
But if state funding falls below that “maintenance of effort” then it cannot access the federal stimulus higher education funds, he said.