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Archive for Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brownback says Kansas’ economic recovery tied to higher education

January 23, 2011

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— In his proposed budget and speeches, Gov. Sam Brownback indicates that he expects the state’s higher education system to play a big role in helping the Kansas economy recover.

But Brownback’s proposed increases in funding for higher education come with strings attached.

In his budget plan, Brownback would provide $5 million each to Kansas University, Kansas State and Wichita State in new funding for research. That would be cancer research at KU, animal health research at K-State and aviation research at Wichita State.

But the funding would be made available only if each of the three institutions matches that amount, either through fundraising or re-allocating existing sources.

And the funding would not go through the Board of Regents, which oversees higher education, but the Kansas Department of Commerce, which is led by a Cabinet secretary appointed by the governor.

“Transferring these programs to the Department of Commerce — what does that mean?” asked Regent Tim Emert of Independence during a recent regents discussion.

Brownback also recommends allocating $1 million to Commerce to provide a competitive grant to expand engineering, and $500,000 to Commerce for competitive grants for community colleges.

Brownback said he has proposed moving those allocations through Commerce because that is the agency in charge of coordinating strategies to grow the economy.

In a speech to several hundred people at the Topeka Chamber of Commerce, Brownback said Kansas’ ranking in higher education “has stagnated in the last decade.”

“We have to have institutions in ascendancy,” he said.

Brownback emphasized that cancer, animal health and aviation research are all areas that Kansas schools can build on. He said institutions may have to focus on fewer areas of study.

“We can’t be all things to all people,” the governor said.

In general, higher education officials have expressed appreciation to Brownback for keeping funding flat instead of proposing more cuts. Higher education has been cut approximately $100 million over the past two years as state revenues fell during the recession.

Now the process of forming a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 goes to the Legislature.

“This is just the beginning, as you know, in a long and challenging process,” said Regents Chairman Gary Sherrer of Overland Park. A former lieutenant governor, Sherrer added, “The governor’s budget, in my experience, has always been the starting place of debate, not the ending place.”

Comments

Thunderdome 3 years, 2 months ago

Apparently, the Governor hasn't figured out that primary and secondary education feeds higher education. His budget pretty much guts our public schools and yet he expects these students to be prepared to go to college. Much of the responsibility for preparing a child to ultimately pursue higher education falls on parents. But you can't gut the public school system and expect those students to be prepared for college. He also needs to take a hard look at the university system before he assumes that it is a catalyst for economic development. It can be, but not as it is currently operating. Our universities have to start actually paying attention to the business community and global economic trends before they can support economic growth through education and research.

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ralphralph 3 years, 2 months ago

"Kansas Economy" for $600, Alex ....

What is: NAFTA (Q - This giant sucking sound is emptying rural Kansas to the benefit of Juarez)

and $800, Please ....

What is: Nuclear. (Q- Construction of this kind of power generation could bolster the Kansas job market and provide energy that is clean, safe, reliable, and domestic)

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Mark Kostner 3 years, 2 months ago

Well this does make some sense, the universities carving out niches such as KUMC and its cancer research, K-State in animal health, since its veternary school is among the best, and WSU in aviation, since its in the "air capital of the world." But I see a big hole in this plan. If the Department of Commerce is doling out the money and the point of all this is to grow business in Kansas, what would make sense is to build up the KU School of Business and make it as nationally prominent as the basketball team. This school should be featured in the US News and World Report's list of the best business schools in the country. While they're improving the reputation and stature of the business school, KU, Lawrence, and Northeast Kansas should become a business incubator. Kansas should be the first place someone who went to KU should consider if they want to start a business. There's no reason Northeast Kansas couldn't become another Research Triangle, Silicon Valley, or Austin. Universities helped build these areas. But it starts with a good business school or engineering school. That's if Brownback's serious. The only way the country is going to get out of this recession/depression is to grow our way out, to be the research and development center of the world. And Kansas can be at the forefront of it, if it dares.

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Jimo 3 years, 2 months ago

So Brownback wants a $15M slush fund to reward his pet projects?

If he values education, he should ask the Kochs to fund their share. Cutting $100M and then restoring $15M isn't a sign of value.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone reading this want to be without a job?

I say it is better to keep local people on the payroll. In spite of what some local powers that be and our governors think it is NOT good for our local economies to lay people off or terminate them. We need people working to keep money in our LOCAL banks and credit unions and tax dollar cookie jars.

The fewer people working in our community and state the more likely our fees and taxes are to increase.

Let's encourage our elected officials to keep people on the payroll. EVEN if we need to pay a little more.

Instead of further flooding the residential markets let’s put people to work rebuilding our sidewalks,bridges,curbs,streets and create new walking paths throughout our communities which benefit the many.

New walking paths and rebuilt sidewalks could do a lot towards the obesity problem we are reminded frequently. People on the jobs also keep our local economies, local credit unions, local banks and tax dollar cookie jars healthy as wel which ultimately benefit the many.

Yes I would rather my taxes be spent keeping people in Kansas on the job rather than my taxes being spent to afford more tax cuts for the wealthy or to big government corporate welfare.

Tax dollars spent on rebuilding our sidewalks,bridges,curbs,streets and creating new walking paths throughout our communities benefit the many plus create new jobs and keep existing employees on the job.

Does anyone reading this want to be without a job?

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kugrad 3 years, 2 months ago

Kg-12 Funding is the key to our economic recovery. Not only would adequate funding have a stimulus effect by employing many people, but, more importantly, it helps our schools produce students who can compete in the workforce and be successful in college.

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texburgh 3 years, 2 months ago

Does Brownback care about high education? He cut k-12 by $232 per pupil so kids will have fewer opportunities to prepare for higher Ed. He put all new stings-attached money in the dept of commerce to keep university people from accessing it. He hired as budget director a man who proposes that regents tuition equal private school tuition because only the wealthy go to college anyway. Brownback is full of smarmy platitudes while he does the bidding of Charles and David Koch. The middle class? The working poor? Who cares?

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