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Archive for Thursday, November 25, 2010

Regents appeal recommendation that higher education funding be frozen

November 25, 2010

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— The state budget division has recommended that funding to higher education be frozen at its current level for a year.

But after two years of cuts, the Kansas Board of Regents has appealed the decision, requesting a $62 million increase.

“It is critically important to note that this funding, which would boost the Kansas economy, would be used in a strategically targeted manner to produce a clear return on investment,” said Andy Tompkins, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Board of Regents.

In the appeal to State Budget Director Duane Goossen, Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said she understands the state’s budget problems, but adds “Kansas will only be prosperous again if its businesses have educated workers to hire and if Kansas students can gain skills and education they need to fully contribute to the economy.”

Higher education has been cut more than $100 million, or 12 percent, over the past two years as state tax revenues decreased during the recession.

Gray-Little said cuts to KU have meant the elimination of approximately 200 positions, increased class sizes and made it more difficult for students to get the course they must have to graduate on time.

In addition, she said, the cuts have meant KU has not been able to keep up with the demand for engineers and nurses. And the prospect of a third year without a pay raise for faculty and staff “makes our employees particularly vulnerable to be recruited away by other institutions, with the potential of taking millions of dollars in research grants with them,” she said.

The proposed funding increase by the Kansas Board of Regents would:

l Allocate $20.5 million to cover inflation over the past several years.

l Restore $15.7 million for deferred maintenance projects.

l Provide $14.5 million in state funds to grow the Kansas work force, specifically in engineering, nursing and other high need fields.

l Implement a new technical education funding formula that will cost $11.6 million.

The funding increases are aligned with long-range plans to increase retention and graduation rates and align higher education with Kansas’ work force needs, officials said.

The increase for technical education is in response to a legislative directive to develop a funding method based on student credit hours.

Gov.-elect Sam Brownback has said he wants to freeze the current level of overall state funding, although he said adjustments could be made within that framework. Funding of public schools, higher education and social services will be contentious in the legislative session that starts in January.

After two years of making cuts throughout the budget, legislators are looking at another budget gap of at least $500 million because of the expiration of federal stimulus funds to the state.

In addition to the letter of appeal written by higher education leaders, regents officials have met with Goossen, who is the current budget director under Gov. Mark Parkinson, and members of Brownback’s transition team to discuss the budget.

Comments

toe 3 years, 4 months ago

Thus begins years of decreased funding from the State. Why? Pension funds, medical care, and elementary education. Time for all universities to prioritize, raise tuition to self sustaining levels, and survive on their wits.

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Healthcare_Moocher 3 years, 4 months ago

Three years ago before a KU basketball game, I saw 11 pallets of home theatre systems being distributed to the offices in Allen Fieldhouse.

Being around governmental run agencies most of my life, I understand the phrase "Year end funds" and how funding is determined.

If you were better stewards of the taxpayers cash, then maybe I could buy into your scheme. You are college people, lets see, boost the economy at the expense of the taxpayers economy? Does not add up.

I still would bet that college level education would be much better if handled by the private sector. Private schools have to perform to survive. Publically funded schools just keep sticking their hands out with zero accountabliliy.

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KU_cynic 3 years, 4 months ago

KU and the Regents are up to the same easy-to-see-through tricks: whine about economic development threats and talk about nurses and engineers (and science and math teachers and such). KU has responded to budget restraint with across-the-board cuts -- in short an inability to prioritize and protect supposed priorities such as nursing. Getting increased higher ed funding -- when the state budget will be mostly flat and other needs press budget makers -- would largely just flow back in an indiscriminate fashion.

Instead, it's time for KU and the other Regents institutions to do what they should have been doing for the past three years: adjust to fiscal reality and cut back hard in low-priority low -value academic areas and actually invest in a select few high-priority high value areas. Instead, one of KU's recent moves has been to start a new masters and PhD program in womens, gender, and sexuality studies. Brilliant. Good luck selling that in Topeka to representatives of tax payers.

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wastewatcher 3 years, 4 months ago

Whine, whine, whine. Lets have full transparency of all regents spending, people being paid and not working, international and out of state travel and you nwill see that the regents system is still living high on the hog. Remember it is Parkinson and his budget director Goosen that has made this recomendation.

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