Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, February 27, 2011

Private funding of buildings on Kansas college campuses debated

February 27, 2011

Advertisement

— Plagued by historic decreases in revenue, the Kansas Legislature has stopped appropriating state tax dollars to build facilities on the campuses of state universities.

But now some legislators are expressing unease with the addition of new facilities paid for with privately raised funds and other revenues that aren’t tax dollars.

Recently, members of the powerful House Appropriations Committee held a lengthy discussion over whether to approve a number of capital improvement projects at Kansas State University that were included in the Kansas Board of Regents’ budget.

“Voters sent us to Topeka to quit spending money,” said Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora.

But the ranking Democrat, Rep. Bill Feuerborn of Garnett, said, “We could move forward or we could stop everything. We should thank the Board of Regents for putting money back into campuses without government dollars.”

But Brown said one of his concerns was whether the state would be responsible for the maintenance of the new facilities, even if they were built with private dollars. The state already has a backlog of maintenance needs that has grown to $876 million, according to the regents.

Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, agreed, questioning $50 million in improvements for Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The project will be funded with bonds paid with Kansas State University’s athletic department ticket revenues.

Peck asked if the state would be on the hook to repay the bonds if the ticket revenues are insufficient. The committee’s staff said it wouldn’t.

K-State had more than 10 projects before the Appropriations Committee funded with private funds, federal research funds and special revenues, such as those paid by students for housing.

While several Appropriations Committee members questioned the spending, others said that because the projects didn’t involve direct state tax dollars, they were OK with them.

Rep. Owen Donohoe, R-Shawnee, said he felt his job was to cut government spending: “These are private funds. I don’t think people asked us to cut private funds.”

Comments

question4u 3 years, 9 months ago

Has there ever been a word out of Anthony Brown's mouth that wasn't an inane cliché? Did voters send anyone "to Topeka to quit spending money" or did they want their representatives to make government more efficient and less expensive? Anthony Brown clearly doesn't know the difference. Is there never a time when you have to spend money in order to avoid much higher costs in the future? By putting his brain on autopilot, Brown isn't doing a thing to help the state of Kansas. If the $876 in deferred maintenance is a concern to him, will he do anything about it? Why not introduce a bill that will make new construction contingent upon a certain amount of private funding to match any potential state contributions to maintenance? Why not work on a solution, and while he's at it, why not do something about the maintenance backlog so as to avoid the much higher costs down the road? Does Brown think that his job is to just say no to spending, no matter what it's for?

Kansas senators have so far shown themselves to be better stewards of the state than airheads like Brown. They are fiscally conservative, but they're not stupid enough to quit investing in the future. If extremism ever led to positive outcomes, it would be mainstream, not extreme.

pace 3 years, 9 months ago

Rep. Anthony Brown seems kind of a silly sour puss. He will teach education, he don't need no stinking education people. Maybe he should go door to door and Slap the donors in the face,

Keith 3 years, 9 months ago

I'm all for private funding of buildings, I think we should stop all the government giveaways for developers. Wait, is that not what he means?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 9 months ago

Brown's just auditioning for a job with the Koch brothers.

concernedeudoravoter 3 years, 9 months ago

Brown is once again proving that he truly does not represent the people of his own hometown. He represents the never-tax section of Johnson County that continues to listen to his party line rhetoric. My own son overheard Brown's daughter in school this week bemoaning the fact that cuts might have to be made (will have to be made) in the Eudora school district this year. I wish my son would have said - 'Go home and thank your Dad for that.'

pace 3 years, 9 months ago

While I think Brown is a complete sad sack, I hope no one encourages their child to say something to his child at school over politics. Send the guy a letter directly from you.

concernedeudoravoter 3 years, 9 months ago

The problem is, the letters, the emails, the phonecalls - they do no good. Many of us have tried.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 9 months ago

In 2007, the state passed legislation, HB 2237, to provide funding for deferred maintenance at the Regents. Part of that bill was language on "New Building Accountability":

New Building Accountability. The Board of Regents will not request State General Fund funding for the maintenance of new privately-financed buildings

You would think legislators would be aware of their own laws. Granted, I'm sure Rep. Brown voted against it. Perhaps at the time he was opposed to new building accountability.

Barbara Emert 3 years, 9 months ago

Bob_Keeshan....there you go again assuming all of these guys can read.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 9 months ago

Here's the actual law, decide for yourself if this is really a "debate"

New Sec. 14. (a) As used in this section: (1) ‘‘State educational institution’’ has the meaning ascribed thereto by K.S.A. 76-711, and amendments thereto. (2) ‘‘Private moneys’’ means moneys from nongovernmental sources. (3) ‘‘Improvement’’ means new construction of a building or other capital improvement of which at least 51% of the cost is financed with private moneys. (4) ‘‘State board’’ means the state board of regents. (b) Each state educational institution shall provide for the future annual maintenance and operation costs for an improvement. From and after July 1, 2007, the state board shall not request any moneys from the state general fund to pay for the cost of maintenance and operation of improvements which exceed the amount of moneys paid from the state general fund in fiscal year 2007 for such purpose. The provisions of this subsection shall apply to any improvement approved by the state board after January 31, 2007. (c) Each state educational institution shall submit to the state board a plan to provide for the annual maintenance and operation costs of an improvement when seeking approval for the making of such improvement from the state board.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 9 months ago

Last time I checked, the US is not broke. Sure the GDP declined slightly during the recession, but the US as a whole is not broke. I think the same can be said for Kansas. Now it might be true that state governments are broke, but if that is true, but the state as a whole is richer - then where is the problem? Sure Medicaid, employee health insurance and retirement costs increased, but we should be progressing to a state with fewer poor, right? And we should be able to control health costs, right? And of course if the state's economy is growing, pensions/retirement should keep up, right? The problem is that the wealth of the state and the US are now in the hands of those who don't want to part with it, don't want to be taxed. Money didn't just disappear yesterday. Wake up to who has it.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 9 months ago

So let me get this straight. Universities are no longer receiving state funds for new and upgraded facilities, and the legislature doesn't want private funds to be used because they might be required to pay for maintenance in the future.

A modest proposal. For KU, the state should donate all of the land and buildings to KU and never give KU another state dollar. KU should become a private university. As it is, KU receives from the state only about 20% of the dollars it spends. This could easily be covered by increasing tuition to levels that actually reflect the cost of an education at KU, by temporary use of Endowment funds, and by aggressive fund raising and pursuit of external research grants.

It is time for KU to cut its ties with the State of Kansas and become a private university. All that would be required is that the state give KU all of the land and buildings it occupies now.

The state would never have to give KU another state dollar.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 9 months ago

Not a bad idea given that Mt. Oread is an island of enlightenment in a sea of darkness and superstition. Even at the height of the anti-war demonstrations, the legislature and populace griped about what was going on on campus, but they recognized the need. Their "retaliation" was simply to skip over Chancellor Chalmers in naming a building for him.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.