Archive for Monday, April 15, 2013

Brownback to tour in support of his higher education budget

April 15, 2013, 3:10 p.m. Updated April 15, 2013, 4:05 p.m.


— Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday announced that he will hit the road next week to defend his higher education budget proposal against cuts offered by his fellow Republicans in the Legislature.

Brownback said funding to Kansas universities, community colleges and technical schools represents a core responsibility of the state "that we must protect."

He added, "My proposed two-year budget holds higher education harmless and includes targeted funding important to our state’s economic growth.

"I have challenged education leaders to focus their schools on improving student results. It is important we keep state funding level."

While Brownback has recommended continuation of the current level of funding for the next fiscal year, the House has proposed an across-the-board cut of 4 percent, or $29.2 million, while the Senate recommended a 2 percent cut.

In addition, Brownback's budget plan provides $10 million over two years to jumpstart construction of a health education building at Kansas University Medical Center.

Right before the Legislature took a month-long break, it appeared that House and Senate budget negotiators were nearing Brownback's position, only to pull back. The budget-writing committees return later this month and the full Legislature meets for the wrap-up session starting on May 8.

Brownback's tour to emphasize higher education funding will start Monday, April 22 at Wichita State University and Butler Community College.

He will visit Washburn University and Washburn Institute of Technology in Topeka on April 23; Pittsburg State University, April 24; Kansas University School of Medicine and the Kansas City, Kan. Community College on April 25; Emporia State University on April 26; and Kansas State University on May 6.

Brownback also said the Legislature needs to prioritize funding of the Career and Technology Education program, which is aimed at helping students get marketable skills when they enter the workforce.

"Cutting funding for the community and technical colleges that support the CTE program would hinder students from obtaining industry-recognized credentials by the time they graduate from high school and diminish the workforce pool for businesses,” Brownback said.

The issue of higher education funding will be tied closely to tax discussions in the Legislature. Brownback wants to keep in place the 6.3 percent state sales tax rate, which was supposed to decrease to 5.7 percent on July 1. The Senate has agreed to that position, but not the House.

Brownback has said the sales tax rate needs to be kept higher to help balance the budget, but House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said that was a false argument.

"Kansans deserve to know that Gov. Brownback's sales tax hike is not being offered to pay for higher education. It is paying for massive tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations," Davis said.

Davis added, "Further, a sales tax hike is not a solution — it's a stall tactic. Even if Gov. Brownback does raise the sales tax, Kansas will still face a $781 million deficit by 2018 as a result of his income tax cuts."

Last year, Brownback signed into law cuts in state income tax rates, eliminating income taxes for the owners of nearly 200,000 businesses and doing away with tax credits designed to help low-income Kansans. Brownback has said the income tax cuts will boost the economy while Democrats say the cuts will benefit mostly the wealthy at the expense of the poor and funding of crucial state services, such as education.


voevoda 5 years, 1 month ago

If Gov. Brownback wants to protect higher education from the depredations of the state legislature, why is he going "on the road"? I'm not against his visiting campuses, but universities aren't the ones who are calling for cuts to higher education. Is he planning to bring the nay-saying representatives (all from his own party) along on the trip in hopes of convincing them that higher education is a worthwhile investment?

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

Oh here we go again. It's not his fault, it's the legislators fault. Did they know they were going to be the fall guys? Did they sign up for this when Brownie got them elected? Hey, we aren't going to let the people of Kansas forget what you have done, Brownie. Be ready to leave office in less than 2 years. Start packing now.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Gosh - who could have predicted that a bunch of extremists would be so extreme? I'd give the guv props for standing up for higher education if his PAC weren't responsible for getting all those tea partiers in office in the first place. Now he's just busy posing as "good cop" and hoping his approval numbers rise a little.

tolawdjk 5 years, 1 month ago

One tech school, two community colleges and nothing "west" of Wichita.

It's not that he can't claim he doesn't have time given that its taking about a month and a half to do this circuit.

A strong argument could be made that the people he needs to sway to his way of thinking are west of the I-35 line and he's seeminging purposely avoiding them. I mean if you are hitting KC with two schools on one day, one would think that hitting Hays in the morning would allow Barton or Colby in the afternoon.

That's nine schools and not one west of I-35. There is a message in that.

Paul Geisler 5 years, 1 month ago

What a bunch of phony baloney from Gov. Brownslack! Orchestrating cuts to K-12 & Higher Ed via the Republican-led legislature and then saying on national TV that he's done all this wonderful (wacky) tax stuff in Kansas without having to make any funding cuts to education was an outright lie! And since he doesn't agree with the ruling in January from the judicial panel who confirmed what is sufficient State funding for education he wants to strip them of their authority and leave it up the State legislators! And now he wants to do a higher-ed tour in Kansas to garner support for his budget plan but he doesn't even have the guts to come to Lawrence to speak at the University of Kansas! Guess this dark spiritual area is too much for him to handle!

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 1 month ago

There's only one question that needs to be asked at each of these stops. It's a simple yes or no question, so it should be a short conversation.

When his partisans in the legislature send him a budget that cuts higher education, will he sign it? Yes or no?

UneasyRider 5 years, 1 month ago

Bet Brownback will be on road to his first stop Friday so he will not be able to greet Obama at KU.

Scott Tichenor 5 years, 1 month ago

We'll just have to agree to disagree. After all, this is the state that throws out the welcome mat for war criminal Cheney, the man that single-handedly bankrupted the U.S. with his silly Iraq War and weapons of mass destruction.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 1 month ago

A new 10-year comparison of state aid, university spending and tuition increases is now available at

This study looks at the six state-funded universities - KU, K-State, Wichita State, Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State. State funding was flat between 2002 and 2012, while undergraduate tuition increased 137%, inflation rose 25% and FTE enrollment increased 12%.

Tuition and fees at KU increased 194% and enrollment was up 1.8%.

State aid to the entire Regents system, which includes KU Med Center, K-State Veterinary Center, K-State Extension Service and the Board of Regents is up 5%.

University officials often site a lack of state funding as the cause of tuition increases, while some legislators point to large tuition increases as rationale for funding decisions. This ‘chicken-and-egg’ debate may well come down to a matter of perspective.

One of the interesting facts we discovered is that those six universities had a $96 million cash reserve increase in their General Fees funds, which is tuition. That means they collected $96 million more in tuition than they spent out of that fund over the last ten years. They also had a $152 million cash reserve increase in their Restricted Fees funds. Universities could absorb a small reduction in state aid by using a portion of those cash reserve buildups from prior years' tuition and fees that weren't spent.

We also found that Institutional Support, which according to Board of Regents reports is basically administrative spending, increased 78% - or a little more than three times inflation.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities disagrees with your figures. Or, more precisely the framing. Granted, it's a shorter time span, but it's better observation of recent trends involving the Great Recession. From 2008-13, they claim that Kansas overall has had a 24.5% cut in state funding, while it has seen an overall 15.4% increase in tuition.

That's adjusted for inflation (ie real dollars), which your figures should be. Serious people tend to talk in real dollars when they're discussing changes in spending over time. Propagandists just list it as a separate item, so the people reading their propaganda reports are more shocked. You're giving us used car salesmen messaging in reverse -trying to make it sound like it's more money than it is.

For instance, your overall calculation lists a 53% change in "per student spending" (a number you just made up by dividing all the figures by FTE) for the combined six universities you studied. In real dollars, my quick math says it's only a 16% increase. Sure, that's a change in spending over time, and it's a point of discussion, but it's not the same shock value you're proposing. If you're not interested in having an honest and intelligent conversation about policy, please don't bother coming in here to copy and paste your propaganda. There's good reason we mistrust everything you say: because we should.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 1 month ago

Thanks, Dave. We appreciate you clarifying all of this for the Sheeple. What would we do without your perspicacity?

UneasyRider 5 years, 1 month ago

Without Dave we would never know what the Koch's intend for Brownback and his toadies to rant about. Dave has never been one to let facts get in his way. He knows what the wanted conclusions are, so he makes sure to provide "facts" to "prove" the Koch's previously determined conclusion

Boston_Corbett 5 years, 1 month ago

Dave Trabert once again shows his intent to not discuss this issue with any intellectual honesty. Either that or he is just ignorant of state budgeting and accounting by suggesting that "restricted fee" and "tuition" should be budgeted to offset state support. I will let you chose which one.

1) "restricted fees" is just that. Fees that are restricted (frequently by law or contract) from general use because of the source of money. Including: Dormitory Fees, Student Health Fees, laboratory fees, amounts received by researchers and the university for completton of federal grants, funds maintained to replay bond issues, including reserves for capital improvements and maintenance, insurance of bonded projects, etc etc etc. The funds are received for purposes that are not directly instructional purposes, and can not be spent otherwise. Does he want Dorm fees to pay for a professors Salary? Does he want to violate federal law by stealing from a federal grant to pay for the same. Does he want to violate the law by stealing from income pledged for a bonded project?
This is the same hokum that Trabert and his friends have used in discussing public education budgets and restricted fees in school district budgets. The suggestion that these funds be raided/used for general instructional purposes in many cases are clearly illegal by law or contract. In other cases, they would simply not be good stewardship or good business practices.

But,. boy oh boy, aren't they fun to type up and spread around in pursuit of blowing smoke up everybody's arses. It doesn't matter to him that it is illegal, because it just sounds good.

2) Tuition. Again, Trabert is being pretty cute in his information. Tuition balances at universities vary widely throughout the calendar year, since it is collected largely in two times in front of each semester. And tuition is collected several months in advance of the providing of educational services. At those points, tuition balances looks wildly high, but has been committed to be spent over the ongoing months. His suggestion is for the universities to steal from next year's students to pay for this year's faculty salaries. Some would call that fraud. I would use the same term to describe Mr. Trabert's discussion of higher education financing. He is either being intentionally misleading, or he is an idiot. I will let you choose.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 1 month ago

If you read the study, you would find that we very carefully point out that Restricted Fee balances can only be used for the purpose the fees were collected.

You would also note that we use year-end balances so as to avoid the issue you raise on fluctuating balances. Further, we only use the increases in annual ending balances, which reflect the difference between revenues collected each year and the expenses paid for the year.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

You point it out, but then use it as part of your calculations anyway, so as to make the numbers look better for your cause.

You don't list undergrad/graduate in-state/out-of state enrollments or tuitions, either, and fluctuations in those numbers could make a huge difference in revenue and spending in a given year. All your data should be broken down to account for that, and it isn't.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 1 month ago

Not true. The calculation we did of universities' ability to absorb a small reduction in aid was based solely on General Fees, which are not restricted. See page 7 and end note #10.

More data is always good. Unfortunately, the analysis you suggested would require some data that is not available and may well not exist. KBOR publishes enrollment data by graduate and undergraduate but not FTE enrollment for in-state and out-of=state on an annual basis. They also do not publish revenues, which even if available would have to provided separately for each cohort. And both sets of data would have to be reflected net of scholarships.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

"More data is always good. Unfortunately, the analysis you suggested would require some data that is not available and may well not exist."

In other words, you do not have the data you require in order to come to accurate conclusions, but you're going to foist your ideology on us anyway. Intellectually dishonest to the core.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 1 month ago

Again, not true. You don't like the results (and/or the provider of the results) and therefore claim that additional data is necessary, which is not the case. More data would possibly provide additional insight but it's absence in no way detracts from the validity or reliability of available data.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

The data isn't being questioned. Your presentation and analysis is. The data says that there is a slight increase in real dollars of tuition over the price of inflation in a ten year period, but it doesn't actually provide any true insight into why, nor does it tell us the long term impact of the policies you advocate.

As I've stated before, your penchant for using raw dollars when real dollars are the norm is a pure scare tactic used to artificially prove a point that you don't seem able to make with intellectual honesty. If you can't be honest with the little things. You can't be honest with the big ones.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 1 month ago

What a cute but absolutely misleading statement. "A slight increase?" You call 85.6% slight?

There is nothing misleading or intellectually dishonest about showing changes in raw dollars AND the inflation rate. In fact, Table 2 shows the annual change in inflation, tuition and state aid so readers could see exactly what took place each year.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

"Cute but absolutely misleading statements" are the only thing that comes out of your mouth, Dave. I did forget to include that I meant when reductions in state spending are included, but the point remains. We all know tuition is increasing beyond the cost of inflation for a variety of factors, but you don't want to have an honest conversation about why.

Yes - it absolutely is dishonest to make the claims in nominal dollars and only put inflation in a separate column in this paper. You want to discus changes in spending over time. The variable you absolutely need to exclude for that conversation to happen is inflation. Ideally you'd also exclude other variables, but at a minimum the conversation should always be in real dollars. It's nothing but sloppy and misleading of you to do otherwise.

KSManimal 5 years, 1 month ago

"Cutting funding for the community and technical colleges that support the CTE program would hinder students from obtaining industry-recognized credentials by the time they graduate from high school and diminish the workforce pool for businesses,” Brownback said.

Gee, Sam....if businesses want an educated, skilled workforce...a workforce produced by our public educational about we ask those businesses to pony up some income taxes to pay for it?

btw, Sam, you forgot to tow the party line about how all private businesses build themselves without any help from government. Prepare to bear the wrath of your Koch masters.....

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

Exactly. Whatever happened to apprenticeships? Companies used to just expect people who can read, write and do math. They trained their workers themselves. Now they expect us taxpayers to pay for it? More corporate welfare.

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