Archive for Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sebelius’ budget plan would slash millions from higher education

A KU student leaves Strong Hall on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday and passes a reflection in a stone sculpture pedestal. The Kansas Board of Regents is considering a plan that would allow universities to keep state sales taxes collected on their campuses as a way to raise scholarship funds.

A KU student leaves Strong Hall on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday and passes a reflection in a stone sculpture pedestal. The Kansas Board of Regents is considering a plan that would allow universities to keep state sales taxes collected on their campuses as a way to raise scholarship funds.

January 13, 2009, 12:51 p.m. Updated January 14, 2009, 9:26 a.m.


Sebelius' budget plan calls for cuts to education funding

The news out of Topeka on the first full day of the legislative session paints a grim budget picture. Enlarge video

A graph from the Budget Director's Overview Presentation indicating the state's difficulties.

A graph from the Budget Director's Overview Presentation indicating the state's difficulties.

— Facing a growing fiscal crisis, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday unveiled a state budget that would slash funding for higher education and local governments, while keeping public school funding flat.

Sebelius’ budget director, Duane Goossen, said the proposed cuts were painful but represented “realistic solutions” to bridging a budget gap that could reach nearly $1 billion.

Sebelius’ plan also would lead to an undetermined number of state employee layoffs, shutting down some agencies, stopping the phase-out of tax cuts, increasing waiting lists for services for people with disabilities, and closing some correctional facilities.

In perhaps an illustration of the desperate fiscal situation, Sebelius, a Democrat, proposed a 1 percent pay raise for state workers, but put the onus on state agencies to come up with funds for the increase.

Higher education hit

Higher education would see a cut of $120 million over the current fiscal year and next one, which starts July 1.

Kansas Board of Regents Chairwoman Donna Shank of Liberal said school officials have planned for the first fiscal year cuts and understand the realities of the state budget problem and nationwide recession.

But Shank added “a $120 million hit would profoundly stunt the progress the system has made toward meeting the state’s work force and economic development needs.”

The governor’s budget does provide bonding authority to complete the proposed $50 million funding for expansion of the Kansas University School of Pharmacy.

Republicans critical

Sebelius’ budget adjustments for the current and next fiscal year total $944.4 million.

Republicans were quick to tee off on the spending blueprint as hearings were planned for today before the legislative budget committees.

Sebelius’ proposal to take an estimated $106 million in revenues headed for local governments and divert that money to the state’s coffers will force local tax increases, according to House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson.

“I can’t fathom how the governor can say that her budget plan won’t increase taxes,” O’Neal said.

GOP leaders also pounced on Sebelius’ need to rely on some $56.7 million in gambling revenues from casinos that haven’t been built.

And House Appropriations Committee Chairman Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, noted the plan has no room for error by leaving almost no money in reserve.

Some Republicans favor an across-the-board budget cut, but Sebelius’ budget director Goossen said that would prove harmful to public schools and services for vulnerable Kansans.

The Kansas Chamber said Sebelius’ plan to stop the phase-out of several business taxes represented a tax increase.

“We ask the governor to reconsider asking Kansas businesses to pay additional taxes and shoulder the deficit created by years of government overspending,” said Amy Blankenbiller, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Chamber.

Local schools

For public schools, Sebelius’ proposal represented a “hold steady” plan after several years of significant increases that were brought about by a school finance lawsuit, said Lawrence school Superintendent Randy Weseman. Sebelius’ plan to freeze the level of public school funding would essentially negate an approximately $165 million increase for the next year that had been approved earlier.

“What you have to understand is that the governor's budget proposal is just that — it's a proposal,” Weseman said. “There’ll be a debate in the Legislature, and there are some in the Legislature that would like to see deeper cuts for public education and some that would like to kind of hold the line and hold harmless all public finances for public education.”


LogicMan 9 years, 3 months ago

"University spending would be slashed"That should end the talk of her becoming the next KU Chancellor or KSU President.The legislature seems to be more realistic -- K-12 will have to take some of the cut. Hopefully via the easy ways like hiring freezes, postponing construction and capital expenditures, etc.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 3 months ago

There are too many universities in Kansas. Instead of slashing across the board, Emporia State and Pittsburg State should be closed. KU, K-State, WSU and FHSU could easily absorb the students.

BikerGrandma 9 years, 3 months ago

As soon as you have the K-12 start doing hiring freezes and cutting capital expenditures, parents will start yelling that their child is not getting an adequate education - larger class sizes, lack of needed equipment, books, etc. Yes there are cuts that can be made at the K-12 level, starting at the top. The majority of school districts are administrator heavy. Hiring freezes will hurt not only our children, but also those classified employees that are the lowest paid to start with.The universities will be fine - they will pass the cuts along to the students in increased fees.

BikerGrandma 9 years, 3 months ago

I just saw the comment regarding the closing of universities. In it you mentioned closing Emporia State University. As the parent of a ESU grad and someone who knows multiple students that have attended there, I can tell you that would be a huge mistake. The one reason so many students attend ESU is because of the small class sizes and the personal attention that small classes afford them from their professors. I have a friend who has a son that is in a class of 1000 at KU. No personal attention. You e-mail the professor and hope that you get an answer in a timely fashion.

LogicMan 9 years, 3 months ago

"There are too many universities in Kansas."Are any hurting for enrollment? If so then maybe, but my guess is that they all are doing fine. And some programs may even need expansion to provide needed replacements for the workforce (e.g. nursing, engineering, the high-end trades, ...).

BikerGrandma 9 years, 3 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront - I agree about scrapping the teachers union and the needless paperwork - AYP, NCLB, etc. Those things have hampered the learning process greatly.I graduated 31 years ago and no, we didn't have paras and had class sizes of 25 - 30. We all did fine, but times have changed. I will say that I think that we do coddle our students too much by giving them excuses such as ADD, behavior disorder, etc. I fully realize that there are some children that do truly need the help. But there are a far greater number that don't - it's an excuse for their parents not to help them or make the do their best. If more parents would take responsiblity for their children, their actions and their learning, the school system would be better off. Teachers could spend more of their time teaching instead of teaching good manners, proper behavior and constantly monitoring unacceptable behavior. Administrators (principals) need to do their job and not pass off the discipline to teachers. While there are many good administrators that care about the students and staff in their buildings, there are quite a few that are just marking their time - they say they are too busy with paperwork, etc., to deal with the trivial discipline problem. Those are the ones that need thinned from the herd and replaced.

guesswho 9 years, 3 months ago

I love the armchair experts coming out!! Close ESU and PSU? Since they provide a lot of the teachers for the state, why not just close K-12? Only the rich(er) should send their kids to school, anyway. Oh, let's re-institute state hospitals to hoard away children with problem behaviors so the schools don't have to deal with children with autism or ADHD.I've lived in countries where they privatize public goods like trash service, (way) underfund public schools, no clean drinking water, privatize this and that. Believe me, we don't want to go there.

Onasis 9 years, 3 months ago

Wow Biker Grandma... I couldn't have said it better myself with your last post!! I agree completely!All I wish is if they are going to have to do layoffs, they need to hurry up and decide and let us know who and when so we can do what we need to to provide for our families and get on with life. They have been talking about them for months now, let's get on with whatever is going to happen.

BikerGrandma 9 years, 3 months ago

No one was saying not deal with children who have autism or ADHD, just not to label a child just because it is easier. Labels stay with a child forever and don't solve the problem. Kids have learned that they can get away with easier work, not doing tests, etc., by playing the system and getting labeled.

preebo 9 years, 3 months ago

"...permitting in-state tuition for illegal immigrants"Wrong, yet again. In-State tuition is not available for illegal immigrants, however, it does apply to the children of illegal immigrants, those whom are born in the U.S. and are therefore American citizens.I know you like Lou Dobbs, and believe all that he spews out but you really should think before you type.Sean Hannity, is that you?

quelestvotrenom 9 years, 3 months ago

In response to "yourworstnightmare". As an alum from the Emporia State and a current KU grad student - your suggestion of shutting down Pittsburg and ESU is frightening. I completely agree with "BikerGrandma" about the amount of personal attention when compared to KU. But your suggestion doesn't even take in to account the city of Emporia. Emporia is struggling and after the loss of so many jobs from the Tyson plant closing - I fear that shutting down ESU would damage Emporia economy beyond repair. The college, the students and the money that they bring in is vital to the town!

d_prowess 9 years, 3 months ago

Regarding the in-state tuition for students of illegal immigrants, remind me again why this is a bad thing. There is obviously this particular population of high school kids in Kansas. They want to go to college and make something of themselves. They can afford it because of the in-state rate. The Schools get this money, which they need, and teach the students (at no real additional cost to the School). On the flip side, if they don't get the in-state rate, they don't go to School, and the Schools are out this tuition money. It seems like the in-state tuition helps both the kids and the Schools, so where is the fault?

Shardwurm 9 years, 3 months ago

"As soon as you have the K-12 start doing hiring freezes and cutting capital expenditures, parents will start yelling that their child is not getting an adequate education - larger class sizes, lack of needed equipment, books, etc. "Not me. There's so much fraud, waste, and abuse in our current system that the educators in this state should be wearing a mask and carrying a gun at enrollment. We had large classes when I was a kid and we turned out ok. The system has brain-washed the public into thinking that education requires Golden Palaces to be built when in fact that has nothing to do with it. Pay the good teachers. Eliminate the bad ones. Do that and you could hold class in a barn.

wysiwyg69 9 years, 3 months ago

I'll say it again, quit giving the illegal mexicans a free education and welfare. give em all a free ride back across the border where they came from! Call me a racist , I don't care.

mmiller 9 years, 3 months ago

Bottom line is that they're gonna have to make cuts. No person, agency or institution is immune from cuts. It's the reality of the situation. So you people can critique and complain all you want. It's not going to change our state's financial situation.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

Stopping the repayment of debt? Isn't the state's debt in the form of bonds? How can this be done? Default?

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

Should have said that I read the bit about halting repayment of debt on another site in an article with more detail. Also mentions that Sebelius proposes to spend down the state treasury. The budget assumes an infusion of $50,000,000 to the statefrom developers of two casinos. Not sure where that figure comes from, since those deals fell through in 2008.This looks very grim.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

"House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, criticized Sebelius for shifting $50 million in one-time casino revenue to the state treasury in defiance of a statute that required gambling proceeds to be allocated to infrastructure, property tax relief and state debt service. “It is also amazing that she is once again basing her budget recommendations on imaginary dollars that may or may not materialize,” he said."source: cjonline

LogicMan 9 years, 3 months ago

"Bottom line is that they're gonna have to make cuts. No person, agency or institution is immune from cuts. It's the reality of the situation."True. But I doubt she will sign the bill with the necessary K-12 cuts. However, if she's wise and if the constitution allows, she will allow the budget bill to become law without her signature (after publicly berating it and belittling the legislature, of course).

MissinLawrence 9 years, 3 months ago

Closing ESU would not only hurt the Emporia community, but also future teachers of KS and other states. ESU Teacher's College is in the Top 4 of Teacher's College in the USA. As a current student at ESU, I would rather pay more in fees and tuition (which will rise), than attend a college that has 1000+ in a general ed class. The largest class size I have ever had at ESU was Marriage and Family (gen ed required), which probably had no more than 75. Having smaller class sizes and professors who acutally know your name is amazing! Check out ESU, it will suprise you!

tscherer1 9 years, 3 months ago

KU has doubled tuition the prior 5 yrs per LJWorld. For FY09, tuition and fees are increasing by 8.1%. The biggest reason-KU Endowment Fund lost 471 million playing the stock market. KU students and their parents need to organize and protest tuition and fee increases like this. As well as demand endowment funds are distributed to the students instead of allowing KU Endowment to lose any more playing the stock market.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

"Reality_Check (Anonymous) says… Sure, who would ever want to increase their job skills during a depression by going to college?"Our colleges would be offended if you suggested that they teach job skills. Their goal is to produce an individual with a broad range of experiences, a diverse perspective on the philosophy of life, with the ability to do research.And, to answer your question, the answer should be, "Someone who can pay for it."

compmd 9 years, 3 months ago

I don't know why, but when I read this article, the first thing to come into my head was the skit from the Mr. Show episode where they look at a guy who lives in a secluded cabin and seceded from the United States.

mom_of_three 9 years, 3 months ago

Oh, yeah, I am sure my kid has auspergers because she wants to do less work.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

How many people does it take to build a bridge to nowhere?3,000,000 out of work contractors, auto workers, retail clerks, secretaries, etc, to do the hard work for "a living wage," plus 1,100,000 former hedge fund managers, investment bankers and mortgage brokers earning high salaries as government "professionals" to supervise them.

Tom McCune 9 years, 3 months ago

The Princeton Review just named KU as a "best value" in higher education. That's a fancy way of saying their prices are too low and their government subsidies are too high.In bad economic times, college enrollments typically go up. The California state university system is facing record applications (so many they are turning students away) at a time when their state budget is a bigger mess than ours.This is precisely the kind of situation where a business model would suite the public sector pretty well:- more demand for your product than you can fulfill- you are running in the redWell, Duh! Raise your prices. If Topeka wants to cut funding to KU, they should also deregulate KU's pricing. Let KU raise its prices until supply, demand, revenue, and expense seeks out a sustainable equilibrium.

tscherer1 9 years, 3 months ago

KU students and their parents need to be organized; independent of the student government body to advocate on their behalf without fear of retribution by the administration.Why does the student government body not demand such a thing to advocate on behalf of the student body collectively. There has to be a check and balance against KU and the KS Board of Regents from doing whatever they feel like. They currently are unchecked and no student or parent can do much as individuals.

KS 9 years, 3 months ago

Instead of laying people off at KU, why don't they just required ALL employees to take a 1% - 5% or so pay cut? Everybody keeps their jobs and they all learn to do with a little less. Better than dealing with a total loss of income to a family.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

Dolph, you would do folks a favor if you would do an editorial to expand on what it means for the state to "halt payments on some debt." As of today, who will buy Kansas bonds, if Kansas is planning to default on existing ones? What are any Kansas bonds worth at this point, since this announcement does not specify which of its bonds will not be repaid?

beawolf 9 years, 3 months ago

"KU students and their parents need to be organized; independent of the student government body to advocate on their behalf "....Advocate for what?

tscherer1 9 years, 3 months ago

If you can't figure what, you deserve the increase in tuition and fees.

KU_cynic 9 years, 3 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) refers to those as under 45 (maybe 47, in reference to the president elect) as the "entitlement generation". As a KU professor of that vintage, I acknowledge that in terms of work ethic that the millennial generation of students has been a bit lacking compared to previous generations.That said, the current students are the ones who1) Are more personally responsible for paying for the (materially higher) cost of their higher education than any previous generation of students. Compare KU tuition today as a percentage of Kansas per capita income to the same ratio 20 years ago. We have privatized public higher education to a large extent already.2) Are on the hook for the rest of their working lives for potentially escalating payroll taxes to pay for expanded social security and medicare benefits for the baby boom generation. In spite of enhancements in longevity and increasing personal wealth of the elderly, the baby boomers have been the leaders and voters who have pushed for and obtained an expanded and largely unfunded entitlement trough for themselves (e.g., the Medicare prescription drug entitlement). If any generation deserves to be labeled the "entitlement generation" it is the baby boomers, not their successors that have been stuck with the bill.

beawolf 9 years, 3 months ago

tscherer1,I though current students tuition is set for four years.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

And people are still are asking why !!! Where were you folks three years ago??

Steve Jacob 9 years, 3 months ago

KC Star said it best, how do you cut a budget without cutting K-12 when K-12 is 52% of the budget. And this article does not mention this this budget has only $600K left over, and the revenue projects are pretty rosey.

Chris Golledge 9 years, 3 months ago

You know, a couple of days ago there were Republicans who were criticizing Sebelius for not talking about the tough decisions. Decisions are tough when you know some people are going to get mad. Seems like there are a few mad people today.

penguin 9 years, 3 months ago

When the first round of tuition increases came out in the five year plan...Student Senate stood up. There were numerous protests, events at Regents meetings, and efforts to show students did not like this move. In the end, at the meeting the KSBOR voted on the measure, the only KU student allowed to speak was one who supported the increases (he also happened to be a junior/senior). Then in an attempt to change the image of KU as expensive, the admins bought into the four-year plan. It looks good on paper to know what you will pay for four years of education, but a few problems linger. 1) costs are artificially increased during the first two years to account for potential increased university costs in the last two years. So it is actually financially beneficial for KU to have students dropout sometime before their junior year. This seems to be the way things work because I can still remember some of the first words I heard at KU. At my KU orientation, I was told only 1/3 students who enters KU will ever graduate from KU. 2)The other problem is most students take longer than 4 years to complete a program. If you take longer than 4 you pay a substantially higher tuition in that last year.However, there always exists an option to suspend this's not written in stone. I have a feeling it will be suspended in an effort to raise funds to deal with this next shortfall. I am also sure they will break out the same rhetoric they used before the 5 year plan "If we increase our tuition the state will see that committment and give us more money." This logic made no sense then and continues to be void of logic.Unfortunately, as the years have passed so has the desire of students to have an impact on local or state actions. Even the socially active students will not focus on something that directly affects tuition increases. An appeal to students outside Student Senate to act is going to be about as effective as trying to get your dog to speak fluent Italian. I say good luck, but most of them just do not care enough or have seen that actions in the past resulted in nothing very positive.

KU_cynic 9 years, 3 months ago

penguin writes, "I was told only 1/3 students who enters KU will ever graduate from KU."That's not correct. The graduation rate at KU is something between 60-70%, so what's true is that about 1/3 students who start KU do NOT graduate.Your point, however, was that the students who start pay a first-year tuition that incorporates -- implicitly -- cost increases for later years that have been averaged in. Students who don't make it pay this higher cost without reaping the benefits later. It's worse than that, though, as the cost for first- and second-year classes, many of which are taught in large lecture format, are lower than lower enrollment electives that are taken later. So, students who start KU and drop out after a year or two (I think the first-year non-retention rate is something around 20%) are really being bamboozled.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

"If any generation deserves to be labeled the “entitlement generation” it is the baby boomers, not their successors that have been stuck with the bill."Absolutely true.

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 3 months ago

So much for the Republican Conservative rhetoric about Democrats being the tax and spend party. It seems that Democrats know how to manage money just as well and better than they do. Hard to believe how many people believed that conservative nonsense for so long and still do.I think what we have in Topeka is a very capable leader (Thank God) at the right time.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 3 months ago

Ok, leave open one of the teaching colleges, let's say Emporia State. Close Pitt State and Fort Hays State. This would save millions a year in higher education funding and the remaining regents' institutions could easily absorb the students.

penguin 9 years, 3 months ago

Ok the same problem exists with closing FHSU. This is also a place that turns out a number of teachers. In addition, the model at FHSU for years has been to deal with cuts by expanding the Virtual College. In addition, they are the least expensive of the Regents schools to attend. So closing FHSU would just mean that the parents/ students at FHSU would just have to seek out a higher education from an institution that will charge them more, provide them with higher class sizes, and also kill the Kansas Academy of Math and Science that is to be based at FHSU,Any call for the closure of FHSU shows a real lack of knowledge on what they are trying to do to weather the storm aheard. In fact, they are in a decent position in regards to higher ed cuts. They have already cancelled on-campus summer classes and are attempting to maximize the Virtual College in the Summer. In addition, they have begun the process of cutting down working days/hours during the summer. Long before the word came down on the amount of the cuts ahead, Dr. Hammond has decided to have a game plan for the future. The community of Hays and Ellis County would also be substantially impacted by the closure of FHSU. This in combination with the fact that this is the only 4 year university in Western Kansas would just be ridiculous. FHSU has proven over the years that they can handle the cuts and will work with what money they are provided. They also have done this without massive tuition increases. In fact, FHSU tuition is not much above the tuition I was paying at KU in 2000....yes the year 2000.Do a search on FHSU and this financial crisis and you will see that Dr. Hammond has proposed real action to handle the situation. The same clearly cannot be said for KU and KSU.The leadership on those campuses, Dr. Hemenway and Dr, Wefald, have just taken this time to head for the door during these difficult times. (Granted Wefald was on his way out before this hit, but still the news on their dealing with the situation seems to be pretty quiet)

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