Topeka House Republican budget leaders on Friday backed off a major portion of proposed cuts to higher education.
For weeks, they had pushed for an across-the-board cut of 4 percent, or $30 million, to post-secondary institutions, while the Senate had recommended a 2 percent cut. The 4 percent cut would have reduced funding by nearly $30 million.
On Friday, the House side withdrew from the 4 percent cut by taking dollars from the state highway program. Shortly afterward, state Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, and chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, agreed to the proposal, saying he wanted "to get the elephants off the table."
But Masterson later pulled back, saying he wanted to study the effects of transferring $30 million from the highway fund to higher education.
"We really hadn't had a lot of time to evaluate that. The good news is it looks like they (the House) are willing to give up those cuts and I'm not opposed to that," Masterson said.
The sides appear to be moving closer to Gov. Sam Brownback's position, which is to keep higher education at current levels.
Both sides ended negotiations as legislators started a monthlong break. The Legislature will reconvene May 8 to start the wrap-up session.
While the House's proposed budgetary position would remove the across-the-board cuts, it still includes a proposed salary cap that officials say would cost Kansas University Medical Center $5.3 million and the KU Lawrence campus $1.3 million.