Archive for Thursday, February 4, 2010

Statehouse Live: Parkinson says after budget, not a lot for lawmakers to do; Gray-Little says KU has been hurt by budget cuts

KU's chancellor spoke out about the negative impact budget cuts have been having on the university. Cuts and unfunded mandates have cost KU $37 million and more than 200 positions.

February 4, 2010, 9:32 a.m. Updated February 4, 2010, 11:57 a.m.

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— Gov. Mark Parkinson says that once legislators approve a bill to balance the current fiscal year budget, there’s not a lot for them to do until April.

In early April, budget experts will make an estimate on how much revenue the state can expect to receive for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“We are in an awkward time for this session. We really won’t know what our revenues are until April,” Parkinson said in response to a reporter's question on Wednesday. “Frankly, there is not a tremendous amount for the Legislature to do until we get that April number,” he said.

As far as the current fiscal year, the Senate has approved a bill that essentially ratifies actions Parkinson took earlier to balance the budget. The House has yet to put a bill together. The 2010 legislative session started Jan. 11.

9:33 a.m.

In prepared remarks, Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said KU has made great strides in recent years but recent state budget cuts are having a negative impact.

Gray-Little was scheduled to speak this morning to the House Appropriations Committee.

Recent budget cuts and unfunded mandates to KU have totaled $37.3 million and resulted in cutting more than 200 positions, she said.

This has hurt the university’s ability to address statewide shortages of engineers and nurses, she said.

And it has reduced the number of introductory courses in chemistry, while introductory courses for calculus have classes of 40 to 49 students.

And budget cuts have slowed recruitment efforts for researchers at the KU Cancer Center, she said.

She said higher education will help the state recover from the economic problems.

“And to do this, Kansas’ universities must have the resources needed to educate the talented graduates and make the critical advances that will lead to renewed prosperity for all Kansans,” she said.

Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz and Pittsburg State University President Steven Scott were also scheduled to speak.

Overall, higher education has been cut more than $100 million back to 2006 funding levels. Kansas Board of Regents officials have said any more cuts would be devastating to higher education.

Legislators currently face an estimated $400 million revenue shortfall in the state budget.

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