Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback's budget office has recommended a funding cut to higher education of approximately 8 percent.
"That would be a significant slice," said Mary Jane Stankiewicz, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Board of Regents. "We hope it doesn't come to that," she said.
News of the proposal came Tuesday, one day after Kansas University officials met with Brownback, seeking a $30 million commitment from the state for a new medical education building at the KU Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kan.
KU officials declined to comment on the proposed funding cut. "We’re going to wait and see what the governor’s budget recommendations are in January before talking about effects," Jack Martin, director of strategic communications at KU, said in an email.
Stankiewicz said the regents has appealed the recommendation made by the Division of Budget, which is headed by Brownback's Budget Director Steve Anderson.
Brownback will reveal his budget recommendation next month when the 2013 legislative session starts. The governor's budget plan then goes to the Legislature for consideration.
"He has been very supportive of higher education," Stankiewicz said of Brownback.
In September, the Board of Regents sent Brownback a budget request that included a $47.1 million increase, which would be about an increase of about 6.2 percent. Part of that wish list included a 1 percent pay increase for the 18,000 employees working on university campuses.
But in a meeting with the regents in November, Brownback said there was little chance of an overall spending increase for higher education, but possibly additional dollars for specific projects.
Brownback’s administration has told state agencies to prepare for tight budgets and has directed them to include a 10 percent cut in their spending requests for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
The most recent revenue estimates show the state faces a $300 million revenue shortfall, mostly because of tax cuts Brownback signed into law earlier this year.
The state is decreasing its individual income tax rates for 2013, with the top rate dropping to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent. Also, the state will exempt the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from income taxes.