Topeka Legislative leaders Friday said they doubted higher education would get its requested funding increase.
In fact, Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said, “Right now, we’ll be very lucky if we don’t have to make more significant cuts.”
The Kansas Board of Regents has requested a $117 million increase over the next three years.
The proposal includes a $17 million increase for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2010, and $50 million for each of the two fiscal years after that.
But with state budget experts projecting a $500 million-plus revenue shortfall in the next fiscal year, both Morris and House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the increases may be out of the question.
“I don’t begrudge the request,” O’Neal said, but added, “It’s going to be difficult to meet their expectations.”
Both legislators said they will do what they can for higher education, but acknowledged the tight budget.
Higher education officials have said the $17 million increase is needed to cover current services and pay for additional costs for employee health insurance and other expenses.
The $100 million over the following two years, they said, is needed to meet academic goals set by the regents and Gov. Mark Parkinson’s recent challenge for universities to improve their academic rankings.
In addition, university chief executives have said they hope to make up ground on the $100 million cut from their budgets this year after four rounds of state cuts.
Even so, when the 2010 legislative session starts in January, higher education will be competing with other major programs, such as social services, public safety and public schools, that have also sustained cuts during the current economic slump.