Archive for Monday, August 5, 2013

House’s top budget writer says legislators will have lots of questions for higher education officials

August 5, 2013


— The chief budget writer in the House today said that legislators will have a lot of questions for higher education officials when the state appropriations committees tour regents universities.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said he knows school officials will have items they want to show off, but that he and other legislators are more interested in other areas.

For example, Rhoades said, at Kansas University, "I want to know more about the infrastructure setup. There is a lot of all-funds dollars, a lot of outside money that comes in. Where is that going? Do we have to always build a building, you know, because somebody wants their name on it?"

Both the Appropriations Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee plan to visit each of the public universities, a community college and technical college next month.

During the 2013 legislation session that ended in June, Republicans approved about $44 million in cuts to universities over two years, making Kansas one of only a handful of states that reduced funding to universities. For each of those years, the schools are looking at cuts of about 3 percent.

Last week, House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, of Lawrence, said he hoped legislators on the tour would have the opportunity to speak with students who saw higher tuition increases because of the state budget cuts.

"I think it's very important that legislators understand that the rising cost of college is having a real impact on the kind of student loan debt that graduates are having to shoulder, and also impacting the ability of some people to even attend college," Davis had said.

But Rhoades said he didn't think meetings with students would be fruitful.

"If I say, `Yeah, hey set up some meetings with some students,' I'm going to get the creme de la creme. I'm going to get the folks that are going to be the Student Senate folks that are going to toe the line, and that's not what we're interested in," he said.


WilburM 4 years, 10 months ago

So this top legislative leader couldn't just wander around the campus on his own and ask a bunch of students about tuition. He'd get an earful. But of course he doesn't want to hear what they have to say, so he will avoid them. A real statesman.

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

He would have to lower himself to talk to the riff raft underlings? Gasp. How can you ask the royalty to do that.

kochmoney 4 years, 10 months ago

He doesn't want to talk with students that haven't been handed the script to his pre-defined narrative.

Hooligan_016 4 years, 10 months ago

Way to be a representative of the people, Mr. Rhoades.

Cheryl Nelsen 4 years, 10 months ago

So, what is Rhoades interested in? He doesn't want to hear from the "creme de la creme" students because they "toe the line." Why doesn't he just admit he does not want to talk to ANY students?

chootspa 4 years, 10 months ago

I think he'd be ok talking to a few rich students. Maybe their parents could donate to his campaign.

question4u 4 years, 10 months ago

"But Rhoades said he didn't think meetings with students would be fruitful."

You too can learn the Rhoades method of reasoning!

Step 1: Form an opinion in the absence of actual experience or information.

Step 2: Avoid any experience or information that might conflict with your opinion. (After all, it must be biased if it doesn't conform to your preconceptions.)

The Rhoades method of reasoning is great because it applies to everything. For example, eating lead improves your health, so anyone who argues that it's harmful must be biased and therefore not worth listening to. Until they bring out the healthy lead eaters you're only going to hear misinformation from people who "toe the line."

The Rhoades method saves time too. You can write your report before you go on your fact-finding mission, just as you can making funding decisions before you understand budgets. Now that's efficiency!

Who could have any reason to worry when an imposing intellect like Marc Rhoades has influence over the future of Kansas?

Michael Throop 4 years, 10 months ago

Actually, the idea isn't that far off the mark. Of course students are going to say the tuition is too high. If you asked people going to the grocery store,they'd probably say the cost of food is too high. That's not new. A college education is not a right. It take planning, saving, and, yes, sacrifice. And, yes, let's take a look at space utilization. That seems prudent, actually. If there are empty classrooms, it's a space management issue. If it's economically sound to renovate a building than build a brand new shiny one, let's look at that option.

nick_s 4 years, 10 months ago

We'll remember the space management issue everytime the State, or Lawrence Commission for that matter, buys another building for office space when there are "spaces to utilize." We'll remember how "prudent" these elected officials are everytime they tell us one thing while doing the exact opposite right in front of our face in the name of "prudence."

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

Look at the money they are giving to a huge donor to renovate the capital again and again. And those aren't private funds, those are tax dollars.

oldexbeat 4 years, 10 months ago

rephase the question -- If a Koch Brother wants to build a building with his name on it, would these GOP Tea Party politicos turn him down ? Really ?

PS Not that Koch Brothers build useful buildings, but getting their name on things is critical to any spending they've done.

Kookamooka 4 years, 10 months ago

I can't think of a single building at a Kansas institution that has a Koch Brother's name on it. You see....we are small potatoes to them. They curry favor on the island of Manhattan, NOT Manhattan Kansas. So...we assume they would invest in Kansas with the way they pillage our state and try to dismantle our government that is supposed to be run BY the people, FOR the people. But they could honestly care LESS about us and our little people problems. (that they create!)

valgrlku 4 years, 10 months ago

Actually, the coffee area/student lounge in Summerfield (current business building) has a plaque indicating that it is the Koch Commons (and I believe in relation to some type of donation?). One doesn't generally have their name attached to something at the university without some type of financial backing, as far as I know. Granted, that's not a building, but it is attached to Koch Industries.

newguy3 4 years, 10 months ago

Interesting. The lounge/study area for the B-School at K-State is also named after the Kochs.

elliottaw 4 years, 10 months ago

You do realize state funding has fallen from 75% to about 25%, that is the reason for the tution increase

seagull 4 years, 10 months ago

Rhoades' answers suggest that he has already made up his mind and is looking simply for individuals who will confirm his views--his party line.

bad_dog 4 years, 10 months ago

Rhoades should confine his questions to topics he's qualified to address, such as "Where's the bathroom" and "What's for lunch today?"

deec 4 years, 10 months ago

I'll bet the legislators wish they could get rid of all those pesky full time professors and teach all the classes with part-time no-benefits adjuncts and GTAs.

Did it ever occur to this genius that some of those big-time donors only gave their money for construction of a building, and that without the vanity building, there wouldn't even BE a donation?

valgrlku 4 years, 10 months ago

I was thinking the same thing about his comment in relation to private donations. It's PRIVATE money, which can be earmarked for anything. Do I like that new buildings seem to get the bulk of those donations over scholarships for the underprivileged? No. However, I would much rather have someone generously donate to the University for a new building, rather than refuse donations outright.
Plus, how many of you have actually been in these buildings? Let me tell you, not much has changed or been upgraded since I was a freshman almost 25 years ago - same terrible cinder block walls with drab colors, terrible seating, dirty white boards (and sometimes, even old school chalk boards!), dirty rooms, etc., etc. - except for the NEW buildings, which thankfully, weren't designed to look like a prison. Frankly, spending so much tuition to sit in neglected, horrible spaces is somewhat insulting. It probably makes sense to rebuild completely, rather than try to upgrade these spaces. Bring on the new buildings, I say. :)

t2a1 4 years, 10 months ago

They already do that... it's called deferred maintenance, and it has been required for quite a while.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 10 months ago

At last check "Deferred Maintenance",That is, work that needs to be done to keep all of the KU buildings habitable and operational but has not been done because of lack of funds, is approaching 1 Billion(with a B!) dollars.(was over $800 million a few years ago) Any more Current estimates available?

Kookamooka 4 years, 10 months ago

I hope they ask the Universities why they still pay to have a mail services department. Interoffice mail is a dinosaur. People just attach documents to email these days. The US Postal service would be required to pick up the postal code at no additional cost to the school or the tax payer. Just think how much the director of a university mail department makes? 50-70 thousand a year? There is STATE taxpayer money to be saved at all State run Universities. Why hasn't one of those high paid money saving consultants come up with this?

elliottaw 4 years, 10 months ago

First not everything can be sent thru inner email there are a lot of papers that would need to be sent from office to office. Second it would cost the post office extra money because they would need more man power. And you realize that person leading this office is only making n a year what it cost the State government a day to when they run over.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

Kook: Do you have any idea how much MORE (and how much slower) it would cost KU to replace building mail with USPS?

Why do you think Every large organization has an internal mail system. That is good business.

You really are a Kook.

elliottaw 4 years, 10 months ago

America ran better when a college degree was not a minimum requirement for every job, we could really benefit from more factories being in A,Erica, not everyone is in a position to go to college for many reason but that shouldn't stop them from being able to raise a family and live their life.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

Rhodes: "Gee wiz. Look at all of these funds. Look at all of these buildings. Look at all of these names on buildings. I don't understand. Something must be wrong. Lets check it out."

Yup, Marc, something must be wrong. Let's check it out:

-Student health buildings. The state invests ZERO dollars. Students pay. -Student union buildings. The state invests ZERO dollars. Students pay -Parking structures: The state invests ZERO dollars. Students, staff, and public pay. -Transportation system: The state invests ZERO operational dollars. Same as above. -Residence halls. The state invests ZERO state dollars. -Recreation center. The state invested ZERO state dollars.. -Performing arts centers. ZERO state dollars invested in Lied Center, Bales hall. -Scholarship hall system. The state invests ZERO state dollars. -Research buildings: (example: Multidisciplinary Research Building for which the state invested ZERO dollars. Paid for by overhead generated by federal research grants) -Athletic facilities: Although the state constructed the original Allen Field House in 1954, the vast majority of KU athletic facilities contain ZERO state dollars. (Booth Hall of Fame, is an example of ZERO state dollar improvements. Many other examples in athletics) -General academic buildings and additions. The state invests FAR TOO LITTLE KU is far more dependent upon largesse of alumni and friends for private support for these such buildings than other states. Most states support such buildings with far larger proportions of state tax support.

Yea, Marc. Something IS wrong with this picture.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 10 months ago

While I applaud a fact-finding mission, it is clear that Rhoads only wants to find the facts that support his preconceived notions.

His comment on new buildings is particularly ignorant. Most of KU's peer universities have done much more new building and refurbishing than KU has done. KU is on the low end of the scale in terms of new construction and facilities upgrades.

I would encourage Marc Rhoads to visit peer universities and see what they are doing in terms of salaries, buildings, and tuition. KU is already on the low end of each of these.

My guess is that Rhoads is most concerned about high-salary administrators, which KU is on the low end of again.

In my opinion, KU does indeed have a bloated administrator class, but not because of high salaries. It is because of lack of performance standards and consequences for administrators who do a bad job. Administrators need to be well-compensated, but they should also be held to very high standards of performance. This is where KU fails.

bad_dog 4 years, 10 months ago

Yep, and soon everyone will be home schooled. Not.

akuna 4 years, 10 months ago

There is something ironic about his disdain for people that "toe the line" given the Republican Party cherishes people that toe the line in accordance with their platform.

William Weissbeck 4 years, 10 months ago

So KU apparently builds buildings just to put some person's name on it? Well then, let's take Bob Dole's name down. Did we ever name the Art School? As you new students might not know, former Chancellor Chalmers (not Mario) was skipped on purpose.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 10 months ago

"For example, Rhoades said, at Kansas University, "I want to know more about the infrastructure setup. There is a lot of all-funds dollars, a lot of outside money that comes in. Where is that going? Do we have to always build a building, you know, because somebody wants their name on it?""

Mr. Rhoades is not the only person who does not understand university budgets, but I think it's good that these legislators are visiting in person. Their questions are not out of line. New buildings create more on-going costs - staff, faculty, maintenance, and so on. KU has a thousand fewer students than it did about twenty years ago. I'd like to know what happened to the graduates. We're they able to use their degrees? Are there programs that should be eliminated? ? ? ? KU should continue its research, but is a new building necessary? It doesn't seem logical that the campus expands when the student population is about the same. In short, we should all be asking questions. It's our tax money, whether it's from the state or federal level.

oldexbeat 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes, Dr. Chalmers has been overlooked on purpose -- he did have a sad ending to his KU career -- but mostly due to personal issues and private viewpoints of certain Regents, not to do with the great way he also at the time handled very real and dangerous crisis going on during the time of his divorce. His career was long and impressive after KU -- both at the Art Insititute of Chicago and at the Whitney Museum and system of San Antonio, TX. That his portrait was finally put up in the Chancellor's Hallway Gallery is good. That he was finally on the Alumni Board Ex-Officio is probably due to Dr. Del Shankel's good work.

He told me once that even if it was on an "outhouse" he would like some recognition. It is time.

Armored_One 4 years, 10 months ago

Sounds a bit like Provo Privy...

Chalmers Chamber... it kind of sings, doesn't it? Yeah, I just watched Green Berets again last night...

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 10 months ago

This entire exercise strikes me as a bit comical.

Shouldn't they have had this fact finding tour before they decided to cut funding?

Like everything this administration does, they seem to be following a checklist without knowing exactly what they are doing or why.

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

That would make a lot more sense, wouldn't it?

Find out about what sort of cuts are possible without damaging education, and then create the budget.

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