Reginald Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Board of Regents, said higher education is part of the proposed $825 billion recovery bill that will be worked on by Congress and Obama.
“We’ve heard the president talk about investment,” Robinson told the House Higher Education Committee. Robinson said putting funds into higher education “will provide something of lasting value after the money is spent.”
Robinson said so far discussions on the stimulus proposal have focused on helping higher education institutions pay for infrastructure improvements, and helping students who have been affected by the national recession to stay in school.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment bill would provide $550 billion in federal spending and $275 billion in tax cuts, according to a summary of the bill.
The measure includes a $15.6 billion increase for Pell Grants to increase the maximum grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350. The proposal also includes $490 million for college work-study.
Robinson said he didn’t know how much would be committed to higher education for maintenance and repair projects, but that he has asked schools to provide him a list of “shovel ready” projects.
Because of the fiscal crisis, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has proposed a 7 percent cut, or $120.3 million, in higher education funding over the next 17 months as a way to help balance the current fiscal year budget and the next one.
In addition, the state faces a backlog of $825 million to fix deteriorating university buildings, including $316 million at Kansas University.
Some committee members were unhappy with the proposed cuts to higher education.
State Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, said she didn’t support a 7 percent cut, adding that higher education will help the state recover from the economic downturn.
“Higher education is where you train people to go to work,” she said.