Topeka A tug-of-war is going on between Gov. Sam Brownback and some in the Legislature over funding high-profile projects at public universities, including the Kansas University Cancer Center.
In his budget plan, Brownback, a Republican, has proposed providing $5 million each to KU, Kansas State and Wichita State in research funding.
The funding, which would go toward cancer research at KU, would be made available only if each of the three institutions matches that amount, either through fundraising or reallocation of existing sources. Officials at the schools have said they have no problem with that.
But under Brownback’s plan, the funding would not go through the Board of Regents, which oversees higher education. The funding would be made by the Kansas Department of Commerce, which is led by a Cabinet secretary appointed by the governor.
Regents members have questioned the logic in that.
Last week, the Senate budget-writing committee recommended a budget that would keep the funding under the regents’ authority.
“Those dollars have traditionally been in the regents,” said Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, and chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “We basically put those back where they have been.”
The full Senate will take up the committee’s budget proposal later this month.
Brownback has said he proposed moving those allocations through Commerce because that is the agency in charge of coordinating strategies to improve the economy.
Brownback made a similar move in his proposal to allocate $1 million to Commerce to provide a competitive grant to expand engineering.
Senate Republicans upped the ante with a proposal to use $4 million in gaming revenues in 2013 and $7 million per year in 2014 and each year after that to increase the number of engineering graduates at KU, K-State and Wichita State. Under the Senate proposal, those funds would be under the authority of the regents.