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Archive for Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Regents appear ready to approve budget request

September 19, 2012

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— Higher education officials said Wednesday they were ready to forward to Gov. Sam Brownback a requested $47.1 million budget increase, which would include a one percent pay raise for state university employees.

The Kansas Board of Regents will likely approve the recommendation Thursday.

On Wednesday, the board members discussed the proposal, noting that over the past few weeks they had cut $185 million in requests from higher education institutions into a $47.1 million "ask."

Board Chairman Tim Emert of Independence said the proposals that were cut had merit, but he added, "We are just trying to face the economic and political reality and show that we are credible in what we are asking for."

Regent Dan Lykins of Topeka said the proposed one percent pay raise "is something critical for our regents employees."

The proposed budget includes $2.8 million to improve the Kansas University Medical Center, especially the School of Medicine campus in Wichita; and $1 million for the next fiscal year as part of a proposed $30 million in state funds to pay for a new health education building at the Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

KU officials have repeatedly said the $2.8 million was needed to increase the "stature" of the medical school's Wichita campus. Board Vice Chairman Fred Logan of Leawood said KU needed to provide more detail on what that means. "Is that rankings?" he asked.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the funds would be used to increase the quality and viability of the school, making it more attractive to students.

After the regents' budget recommendation goes to Brownback, he will decide what to propose to the Legislature when the 2013 session starts in January. Then legislators will put together a spending plan.

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