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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

KU officials dispute cash balance list circulated by House Republican leaders who want to cut higher ed

April 24, 2013

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— House Republican leaders who are calling for higher education to take a 4 percent state budget cut say that public universities are sitting on $422 million in various funds that could be redirected to pay for other expenses.

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Cash balances circulated by GOP leaders ( .PDF )

“Obviously utilizing these funds would require foresight and planning on the part of university officials; the unencumbered funds are not like petty cash,” said House Appropriations Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton.

“But I would like to see the universities look at all their funding options, not just always automatically going to students and taxpayers," Rhoades said.

But Kansas University officials on Wednesday disputed the meaning of the cash balance list circulated by top GOP officials in the House.

"I’m confused as to why this keeps being brought up as an option, when it clearly is not," said Tim Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs at KU. "No business would operate as is being suggested by going months without the funds needed to pay its employees and vendors. The university is following sensible and universally accepted business practices,” Caboni said.

House GOP leaders are fighting for a higher education cut as fellow Republican Gov. Sam Brownback tours the state urging public support for keeping post-secondary funding at the current level.

On Tuesday, Brownback visited Kansas University, saying that higher education was key to helping improve the state's future.

The Republican-dominated Legislature returns for the wrap-up session on May 8 to write a state budget and work on tax issues.

Before a monthlong break, the House approved cutting higher education by nearly $30 million, or 4 percent. The plan would also cap salaries and sweep other funds for a total cut of approximately $60 million; KU's share of the cut would be $20 million. The Senate proposed a 2 percent budget cut.

House GOP leaders are circulating a report on cash balances at the regents universities that they say proves higher education has reserves that could be used to pay for other operations of the schools and absorb the proposed cuts.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said GOP leaders in the House are committed to higher education, but the growth of cash balances at the universities means "there is room for savings."

He said the goal is to reduce the tax burden on families as tuition has increased throughout the system.

“Historically, Kansas families have borne the brunt of university budgets that continue to increase every year through both higher tuition rates and state taxes,” Merrick said. “The House budget plan found savings across all areas of state government, including the Regents, that will ensure our ability to keep the tax burden on Kansas families low.”

But officials at KU disputed the meaning of the report.

Many of the funds on the list are restricted funds, meaning they can only be used for the purposes for which they were collected, they said. And as far as general fee funds, those dollars are used to pay salaries and expenses, according to KU.

"Looking at the July 1 balances, as these reports usually do, means they are looking at a time when we have money collected to cover expenses until tuition comes in," said KU spokesman Jack Martin.

Caboni said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Provost Jeff Vitter, and chief budget officials at KU have spent a lot of time in Topeka answering questions about the cash balances.

Comments

oldexbeat 11 months, 4 weeks ago

dumb, dumber, dumbest state in the Union is the goal -- cheaper labor, no one votes, koch lovers rule, working poor and lower middle class pay for it all. A rightwing nut billionaire wet-dream.........Here Comes Sammy..........

1

sciencegeek 12 months ago

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Can't Brownback control the puppets he so diligently bought into office?

Or is it possible that the Kumbaya visits to state universities by the governor are just a red herring to make it LOOK like he supports education. "I am shocked--shocked-- to learn that higher education could be cut by the legislature!"

2

Thinking_Out_Loud 12 months ago

"House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said GOP leaders in the House are committed to higher education, but the growth of cash balances at the universities means 'there is room for savings.'"

Merrick is disingenuous. Only a legislator can interpret good cash flow management as "they're getting too much." Who else remembers the righteous indignation from Topeka several years back regarding deferred maintenance--legislators arguing that, after years of increasing budget cuts, the "crumbling classrooms" were evidence of mismanaged funds? When investigated, the answer was (obvious to those of us with functioning higher level critical thinking skills) that after years of sustained and increasing budget cuts, the university was unable to maintain its educational mission, research mission, and buildings at the expected level...and chose to defer maintenance rather than sacrifice its educational and research missions.

2

consumer1 12 months ago

No business would operate as is being suggested. Is Kansas University a business or a school? Do many business' get govt funding every year? Paying their employess and taking care of their health care, retirement??

1

frankfussman 12 months ago

Take money from the Athletic Department to fund education.

1

toe 12 months ago

Spending money on education is a low university priority. Instead administration head counts, buildings, marketing, and travel including private planes and chauffeurs are preferred.

1

bad_dog 12 months ago

"Caboni said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Provost Jeff Vitter, and chief budget officials at KU have spent a lot of time in Topeka answering questions about the cash balances."

You can lead a horse to water...

1

chootspa 12 months ago

Remember that report Dave posted here - the one that was written at an eighth grade reading level and assumed the reader was an idiot? Seems the assumptions about the intended audience were warranted.

5

question4u 12 months ago

"No business would operate as is being suggested by going months without the funds needed to pay its employees and vendors. The university is following sensible and universally accepted business practices,” Caboni said.

Sorry, Mr. Caboni, "sensible" and "universally accepted" are not things that House members understand. Remember that you are dealing with one of the dumbest Legislatures that Kansans have ever elected. Frame your explanations as though you were speaking to a child who is a bit slow, and make sure to include lots of pictures.

Even Flim-Flam Sam thinks that it's a dumb idea to arbitrarily cut funding to higher education. How much more proof is needed of House incompetence?

5

yourworstnightmare 12 months ago

"“But I would like to see the universities look at all their funding options, not just always automatically going to students and taxpayers," Rhoades said."

But I would like to see businesses look at their revenue options, not just always automatically going to higher prices for customers and looking for tax breaks.

2

irtnog2001 12 months ago

Although tempting, public colleges should not accept funds that include unreasonable strings attached that do not allow their use for educational purposes. The regents needs to adopt a policy regarding this.

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