Archive for Thursday, November 19, 2009

‘Tough, hard’ cuts on way for higher ed

State university presidents gathered in Topeka got some bad financial news Wednesday.

November 19, 2009

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Duane Goossen, Director of the Budget for the State of Kansas told the Kansas Board of Regents about some possible cuts to higher education funding.

Duane Goossen, Director of the Budget for the State of Kansas told the Kansas Board of Regents about some possible cuts to higher education funding.

— Preparing for another round of budget cuts, the Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday started to tamp down expectations.

“We’re in survival mode,” Regent Donna Shank said after Gov. Mark Parkinson’s budget director Duane Goossen telegraphed another cut to higher education.

The system has already sustained a 12 percent, $100 million cut this year because of dropping tax revenues.

Another downward revision in tax receipts will result in Gov. Mark Parkinson cutting $260 million more from the state budget next week, and higher education is expected to be hit again.

“Those are going to be some really tough, hard cuts,” said Goossen, who described the state’s revenue dip as the worst since the Great Depression.

Regent Gary Sherrer said perhaps the regents should give universities permission to do whatever it takes to weather the revenue shortfall.

“Maybe we should authorize our regents institutions to make whatever policies are necessary in terms of rationing or restricting, even to the point of enrollments,” he said.

In September, the regents requested a $117 million budget increase over the next three years to make up for cuts already enacted.

After Goossen’s presentation of the revenue picture on Wednesday, enactment of such a proposal seemed unlikely.

Goossen said the state economy may not recover until late next year, and even then the state budget will continue to suffer when federal stimulus funds start tapering off.

The state Division of the Budget recommended flat funding for higher education, and the regents decided not to appeal that, saying a flat budget at this point would be a victory.

And the regents voted against including revenue enhancements in its legislative package for three projects: a math and science academy at Fort Hays State University, establishment of a school of construction at Pittsburg State University and an aviation research project at Wichita State University.

Several regents said the Legislature needs to consider repealing some tax exemptions to produce more revenue and a more fair tax system.

“A lot of areas are getting tax breaks and the people who are suffering don’t seem to be getting these tax breaks,” Regent Dan Lykins said.

Comments

overthemoon 7 years, 11 months ago

well heck, time to add on and upgrade the football facilities. they are a year old and the team's not winning so it must be time to throw another 10 million into that black hole.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 11 months ago

Furloughs are on the way for state employees, including KU professors.

KawHawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Time for hard questions and decisions:

1) Does the state really need TWO law schools (Washburn and KU) ?

2) Does the state really need duplicated programs at KU and K-State, especially at the graduate level ?

3) Have universities really dealt with the issue of administrative bloat ? How many vice/associate/deputy/assistant chancellors and deans are really necessary ?

4) Have universities down enough to encourage the retirement of faculty deadwood ?

prairierose54 7 years, 11 months ago

We have already assumed the position.......

volunteer 7 years, 11 months ago

I do not work on the Hill so I risk showing my ignorance here. But...

If KU must examine its spending with a fine tooth comb, I wonder how essential it is to have a Provost for Diversity and all the expense that entails. KU seemed to exist fine for a long time without it. How about just asking the Admissions folks to admit more minorities if that is the goal?

KU_cynic 7 years, 11 months ago

Good questions, KawHawk;

1) Does the state really need TWO law schools (Washburn and KU)?

Maybe, maybe not. But, closing either is not something that can be done to affect this budget year. My advice: raise tuition dramatically at each law school, with revenues split 50-50 between the school and the university.

2) Does the state really need duplicated programs at KU and K-State, especially at the graduate level?

In most cases, no. For example, KSU should not have an MBA program. However, eliminating such programs at one school or the other can't help in this budget year.

3) Have universities really dealt with the issue of administrative bloat ? How many vice/associate/deputy/assistant chancellors and deans are really necessary ?

Apparently a lot. Right now at KU they are justifying their existence coordinating all the new task forces assembled to look at retention, admissions, research, etc. By and large most of the assistant/associate/vice provosts and chancellors are toadies who have peter-principled out at KU. With a new chancellor hired from outside KU, an interim provost, and an interim dean of liberal arts there's no chance that KU is going to get lean at the top any time soon.

4) Have universities done enough to encourage the retirement of faculty deadwood?

Absent mandatory retirement, this is hard. Paying deadwood faculty to retire would hurt the current budget year. Making deadwood want to retire would require interpersonally difficult measures like disproportionate pay cuts or dramatically increased teaching loads relative to more research active faculty; always easy to imagine in the abstract, very hard to do in practice.

For better or for worse, expedient measures like furloughs are likely to be the solution to this year's budget.

The long-term question is whether the state universities will start making tough decisions to cut back on less vital and redundant programs to free up resources for vital priorities in future years. That would require practical, forward-thinking, politically thick-skinned leadership. In other words, the opposite of what state universities usually have in terms of leadership.

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