Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Statehouse Live: Budget subcommittee cuts KU Med Center proposal, recommends audit of KU

February 12, 2013, 4:49 p.m. Updated February 12, 2013, 6:51 p.m.


— A Senate budget subcommittee on Tuesday recommended a $10 million cut in Kansas University’s proposed budget and a sweeping audit of the school.

And one member of the subcommittee, Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, said she had concerns about student leaders from public universities who were “regurgitating” talking points given them by the Kansas Board of Regents. The students were in the Statehouse on Monday to talk with legislators about higher education issues.

Tyson said in her conversation with the students, they brought up the regents’ position in favor of in-state tuition for the children of some undocumented workers, as well as opposition to concealed carry of guns on campuses.

“If I want to be lobbied by the Board of Regents, I can go talk to them. I want to hear what the students’ concerns are, what their actual experiences are,” Tyson said.

Zach George, the government relations director for the KU Student Senate, helped organize Higher Education Day, when approximately 150 students from across the state met with legislators.

George said student leaders worked for months on what issues to talk to legislators about. He said he resented Tyson saying that the students were parroting what the regents wanted.

The regents, he said, “didn’t have a say on the issues that we chose that affected us and were important to us.”

On the budget issues, the proposal by state Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina, would remove Gov. Sam Brownback’s recommendation that provides $10 million over two years to go toward building a new health education building at the KU Medical Center.

Arpke, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means subcommittee on education, also recommended a full legislative audit of costs at KU, saying that the school’s expenses are too high compared with other schools.

Arpke said he was concerned that KU’s enrollment has dropped over the past several years, and he said the school needs to do more to make sure students graduate in four years.

In response to the subcommittee’s action, KU spokesman Jack Martin said, “The governor’s budget recommendations wisely reflect the need our state has for additional doctors and we hope at the end of the day the majority of Kansas legislators will agree it is a wise investment in Kansans’ health.”

As far as Arpke’s concern over costs at KU, Martin said, “Governor Brownback has indicated that KU needs to compare itself against its national peers, and compared to our fellow research universities, KU’s tuition is in the lower third.”

Martin said the school also is in the midst of a comprehensive effort to reduce administrative costs.

The subcommittee recommendation next goes to the full Ways and Means Committee.

Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the subcommittee doesn’t have purview over capital improvement budgets.

“It’s not in this budget and the committee cannot deal with this,” Kelly said. She said if the KU Medical Center has to look for other sources of funding for the building perhaps it should look at savings at other campuses. In addition to Kansas City, Kan., the medical school has campuses in Wichita and Salina.

KU has made construction of the $75 million health education and training facility at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., a major priority.

Construction of the building is part of KU’s initiative to increase the number of physicians trained in Kansas.

KU had wanted the state to release $25 million that was returned from the federal government as part of a FICA refund related to payroll taxes paid back in the 1990s.

In his budget proposal, Brownback released $10 million from the FICA refund and deposited the other $15 million in the state’s all-purpose general fund.

Under the Senate subcommittee’s plan, that $10 million would be removed from KU’s capital improvement budget proposal. Of that $10 million, Arpke recommended $1 million for a technology center at Fort Hays State University, $600,000 to be directed to Washburn University and the rest put in the state’s general revenue fund.

Arpke said he thought KU could continue with plans for the health education building. “We’re not done discussing the budget at this point,” he said.


toe 1 year, 2 months ago

Auditors are usually a waste of money. They return with the results they were paid for. The only question is who is paying for the audit? It appears to be the people paying little or nothing toward education expenses these days. I think the students are the ones that should hire the auditor.


Boston_Corbett 1 year, 2 months ago

I am shocked, just shocked, that students and the board of regents have some common opinions on needs and priorities.

(if the two groups had differing opinions, other legislators would be complaining)

Relative to Arpe's desire for an audit at KUMC, lets have one, and determine where the highest cost medical training occurs and shut it down immediately. (I doubt he realizes the highest cost, by a considerable margin, exists at Smokey Hills training center in Salina, which he represents)


Paul R Getto 1 year, 2 months ago

“regurgitating” talking points given them by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Lots of vomiting going on in Topeka these days. Substitute ALEC for KBOR and read again.



Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

IF one sits in on these Kansas legislative discussions it sheds light of the level of expertise and level of knowledge in general some of these elected repubs lack. Their ability to communicate somewhat leaves a lot to be desired.

It is not difficult to discover what easy prey these officials are for ALEC.

If KU had a massive audit you would think elected officials would have this information rather than appearing as dopes?


Bob_Loblaw 1 year, 2 months ago

"...and he said the school needs to do more to make sure students graduate in four years...."

It's freaking sad that students can't seem to make it through in four years. I sure had no trouble double majoring and getting through in four years. There was no Fall Break or whatever its called as well 20 years ago (it started in 2001 FWIW). I'm positive that requirements to graduate have not gotten tougher either (probably easier) what's the problem with students exactly that makes this such an issue? The comment by Arpke could lead to interpretation that diluting what value a degree from KU has would be just fine. Get 'em in and get 'em out...repeat...


dylanjacobus 1 year, 2 months ago

As a student at KU Medical Center I am very offended by this article. The school is in desperate need of a newer, larger facility. There is no dedicated building for the medical school, we share facilities with nursing students as well as PT students. One of the main reasons we have satellite campuses is due to the school inability to gain accreditation for a larger class size because of our small facility.

"Arpke said he was concerned that KU’s enrollment has dropped over the past several years, and he said the school needs to do more to make sure students graduate in four years."

I don't get this statement either. Is he talking about the University of Kansas or the University of Kansas Medical Center. IF he is talking about KUMC he is wrong. KUMC's class of 2016 will be the largest class the medical school has had to date.

As a student, one of the most important things to me is a new facility. I understand that I would be long gone from KUMC by the time the building is finished, but KUMC desperately needs it. I think Sen. Tyson needs to come talk to us and see for herself if we are just parroting.


mikekt 1 year, 2 months ago

Are these legislators on steroids or something worse ?

I think that they are just "over the top" and a buch of hicks from the sticks, that want to make names for themselves, by acting as if they are stupid ......& proud of it !


handlon 1 year, 2 months ago

Our legislature in this state is embarrassing. Oh for the days of Bob Dole repubs....


kuguardgrl13 1 year, 2 months ago

So basically they're saying that they want mediocre doctors and for the flagship university to plummet in quality and standing. Should KU spend more that K-State? Probably not. We're equals in most things. Even this jayhawk will admit that. Should we have a larger budget than the D2 schools? Probably. We have more students and staff, not to mention larger operating costs. If they want KU to go private, they should say so and stop complaining when we're forced to raise tuition.

I also have a bone to pick with this woman who completely disregards the concerns of students. We're adults. We vote, we pay taxes, we consume, and most of us get jobs and raise families in Kansas. Our opinions matter just as much as anyone else's. The KU Student Senate voted against conceal and carry on our campus, probably because they heard the concerns of their fellow students. Hey Kansas Senate, do you really want to be showed up by a bunch of college kids? I will be writing to Marci Francisco very shortly.


yourworstnightmare 1 year, 2 months ago

It is no wonder why KU is hanging on by the skin of its teeth as a research university. With legislators like Arpke, who sees this as his chance to take a shot at KU and the perceived "intellectual elite" at the institution, KU has a massive hill to climb to even maintain mediocrity.

Time for KU to become a private university and break financial support from and ridiculous "oversight" by the Kansas legislature.

Arpke and those who vote his like into office do not deserve an affordable, quality public research university.


peartree 1 year, 2 months ago

Also, KU just had a massive audit.


peartree 1 year, 2 months ago

Gah! The building they are trying to replace is too small, lacks proper facilities, is technologically ancient, and is just plain gross and dirty. They have tried to maintain it, but everything needs to be gutted, but that would be silly because the space is too small anyway. Do these Western KS politicians want KU to train their doctors or not?

Then they quibble about not letting guns on campus and complain we are educating the children of immigrants, and they try to stuff money into the pockets of Western KS schools instead.

These rural politicians act like resentful children.

THIS. THIS is attitude that drives doctors and everyone else with any sense away from rural districts. The oft unspoken truth is that rural towns want people to move there, but those people had better be the same Christian denomination, skin color, and be ideologically identical to their neighbors, or they will make no friends.


question4u 1 year, 2 months ago

"If I want to be lobbied by the Board of Regents, I can go talk to them. I want to hear what the students' concerns are, what their actual experiences are," Tyson said.

Well, the obvious answer is to get off your rear and, in your own words, "go talk with them." Of course, then you'd have to actually address students' concerns, which is something that your arrogant and condescending comments suggest you don't really want to do. It's far easier just to dismiss anything that you don't want to hear.

Poor Kansas! With people like this in the Legislature you'd be better off on autopilot.


Gary Denning 1 year, 2 months ago

Arpe from Salina is just who we want making decisions about KU and the Medical Center. After all, he has held the prestigious position of substitute teacher in Salina for several years. He is firmly in the pockets of the Koch brothers and their political influence groups.


Graczyk 1 year, 2 months ago

On other higher education issue, subcommittee member state Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, said she had concerns about student leaders from public universities who were "regurgitating" talking points given them by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Nice way to completely deny that those students have the ability to think for themselves. This is a completely distasteful comment.


irtnog2001 1 year, 2 months ago

Some of the funds should be reserved to open a dental school and osteopathic school in Wichita. Too many KU trained doctors want to become specialists and not serve rural areas.


wastewatcher 1 year, 2 months ago

LIBERAI LAURA KELLY is up to her same old tricks, trying to hurt other areas, Wichita and Salina, in order to further her own agenda. And where does it say that LIBERAL LAURA is the one who decides the scope of each committees work, Liberal Laura has a very poor understanding of how the Senate really operate when she makes outlandish statements like these.


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