Budget and tax proposals put forth by Gov. Sam Brownback already have spurred considerable debate and some concerns. The state budget for the next fiscal year is far from set, but we hope when the dust settles at the end of the legislative session some key funding proposals that will benefit Kansas University are still in the mix.
Brownback included three major funding proposals in the budget plan he presented last week: $3 million in new funding to allow KU to hire new international-caliber research professors, an additional $1.9 million for the KU Medical Center’s medical scholarship program, and $5 million to help support the KU Cancer Center’s effort to be designated as a National Cancer Center.
The three proposals reflect Brownback’s preference for directing state funds at specific goals that will produce specific results. Providing funds to attract top professors to KU addresses the state’s goal of increasing the quality and prestige of the school and maintaining its membership in the Association of American Universities. Additional funds for medical scholarships is a boon for the KU medical school, but it also addresses the statewide need for more doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. The $5 million for the KU Cancer Center is a continuation of a years-long effort to gain the national designation. KU is awaiting a decision on its application, and whether this application is successful or KU has to do more work and submit a new application, it’s important to maintain the state’s commitment to the cancer center goal.
KU officials have endured a number of years of funding cuts that have made it difficult to maintain the quality of its faculty and pursue other important goals. While general funding increases for KU still may be a tough sell, university leaders apparently have been successful in convincing the governor of the benefits of targeted funding to address specific needs. That’s good news both for the university and for the state.