An 8 percent cut in state funding for higher education would likely put jobs in danger at Kansas University, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Thursday.
"At 8 percent, it would be hard to imagine it would not affect staffing," Gray-Little told the Lawrence Journal-World during an interview.
That is the approximate level of cuts to higher education recommended by the state Division of Budget, according to the Kansas Board of Regents.
The board has appealed that recommendation, a spokeswoman said this week, and Brownback will not unveil his personal budget proposal until the 2013 legislative session starts in January. The governor and Legislature will have final say on higher education funding.
Gray-Little said she was unsure about the likelihood of such a cut coming to fruition, as earlier messages from the state had indicated that higher education would not face a cut.
But if such a cut does happen, she said, the effects would be serious.
"To have the kind of reduction that the budget office recommended would be a severe reduction for us and would have, I believe, a significant effect on everything that we're trying to do," Gray-Little said.
It would likely affect staff, she said, and it could limit the university's ability to hire new faculty.
"Then that begins to have a direct effect on our aspirations in terms of teaching," Gray-Little said.
The university is in the midst of a campaign to fill 64 newly created faculty positions, including 12 high-profile "Foundation Professors" to be funded in part by a $3 million annual award from the state.
The chancellor noted that news of the recommended cut comes at the same time that the threat of federal sequestration — or the "fiscal cliff" — hangs over the university. Should sequestration occur, it could cost the university an estimated $18 million in federal research funding and lead to an additional $27 million in loan costs for students over the course of 2013.
She also added that a cut would add to what's already been a 40 percent reduction in state funding over the last 15 years at KU.
"We are doing more with less state funds," Gray-Little said.
KU is also in the middle of its "Changing for Excellence" plan, a campaign to cut costs, become more efficient and free up funds for things such as faculty hires.
Gray-Little said such a cut would amount to a roughly $8 million reduction in state funding at the KU Medical Center, which receives about $100 million in state funding annually.
"Medical education is very expensive," Gray-Little said.
Amid a tight state budget, KU also seeks a $30 million commitment from Brownback to help fund a proposed $75 million new education building at the Medical Center, in addition to the release of a $26 million refund of FICA taxes incorrectly collected from the Medical Center during the 1990s.