The Kansas Board of Regents absorbed more glum economic news Wednesday, hearing a specific outline of budget cuts they had been warned about for months.
It was the beginning of a process as regents and other state higher education officials began to digest the cuts outlined in a 365-page report from the governor.
In a presentation to the board, Diane Duffy, regents vice president for finance and administration, said that for the most part, the cuts represented what the board had been anticipating.
Kansas University Provost Richard Lariviere said, too, that the cuts were in line with what the university expected to hear from the state.
“This is about as good as we could get under the circumstances,” Lariviere said.
He reiterated that KU would not be able to absorb the 7 percent reduction in general funding without a significant reduction in its work force.
KU hoped to freeze open positions as much as possible, but Lariviere said that would probably not be adequate to meet the cuts.
“There will probably be some layoffs,” he said. “We hope to keep those to as small a number as possible.”
Cuts outlined Wednesday included a 3 percent reduction in funds available for this fiscal year, and an additional 6.5 percent during the next fiscal year. The recommendations for the next fiscal year represented a 4 percent expenditure reduction for institutions and an additional 2.5 percent reduction from financing reductions and shifts in the state’s general fund. Some of those proposals included:
• The elimination of $15 million from the state’s general fund, but the addition of $13.7 million in one-time balances from the state’s Educational Buildings Fund for the state’s 2007 five-year deferred maintenance program.
• A $9 million reduction attributed to debt restructuring.
• A reduction of $15.9 million because of a moratorium on employer contributions for employee benefits.
Regents offered little public comment on the proposals during the meeting. Regent Jill Docking said she and other board members would need more specific information and clarifications from the state on some items.
Duffy said regents staff would be consulting with the state to get more specific information on items such as whether the reduction for employer contributions was a one-time or permanent reduction.
Under the proposals outlined Wednesday, KU would absorb the loss of its remaining $30 million designated for its pharmacy school expansion. Though bonding authority would be granted to the university to finish the project, no funding source was identified to fund the bonds.
Lariviere said that while he did not know what that meant for the outcome of the project, he hoped the measure was an indication that the state would issue a bond to complete the expansion.
All the recommendations will have to go through the Legislature, and will be subject to another budget assessment to be done in April, after income tax returns can be factored in.