Archive for Monday, July 15, 2013

Kansas among few states that cut funding to universities

July 15, 2013, 12:03 p.m. Updated July 15, 2013, 5:53 p.m.


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Higher education funding survey ( .PDF )

— With the economy rebounding, most states are increasing funds to higher education.

Not Kansas.

Kansas was one of only five states, along with Louisiana, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, that chopped funding to public universities, according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Meanwhile, 37 states funded universities at a higher amount for the fiscal year that started July 1 than the previous fiscal year. Five states provided flat funding this year compared to last.

Data from New Mexico and North Carolina weren’t available by the time the study was completed last week, and Missouri’s figure could change based on the state’s General Assembly in September, the report said.

The survey showed that after significant budget cuts to higher education during the Great Recession, states’ economies were improving, and that was good news for higher education.

“Two years removed from the largest decline in state higher education funding in nearly a half century, state lawmakers have used increases in state revenues to begin reinvesting in public higher education,” the AASCU report said. In fiscal year 2012, only eight states had increased funding.

The average increase in higher education funding this year was 3.6 percent.

Of the states that cut funding, Louisiana’s was the deepest at 17.6 percent.

In Kansas, Republicans approved approximately $44 million in cuts to universities over two years. For each of those years, the schools are looking at cuts of about 3 percent.

Gov. Sam Brownback, also a Republican, signed the cuts into law but said he would work to restore funding next year.

Kansas Board of Regents Vice Chairman Kenny Wilk, of Basehor, said on Monday that increasing funding to higher education was key to helping the Kansas economy.

“It’s not just about the universities,” Wilk said. “It’s about the overall health and well-being of our state and growing our economy. I think it’s a great investment.”

Regent member Ed McKechnie, of Arcadia, said increasing the number of people with post-secondary degrees lowers the unemployment rate and raises the standard of living. “That is why there is a state interest to invest in education,” he said. Both Wilk and McKechnie are former legislators; Wilk a Republican, and McKechnie, a Democrat.

But while House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, agreed that higher education plays an important role in the state’s economy, he added, “However, that does not mean they should not be held accountable for the way they spend taxpayer money. There seems to be an appetite for spending more dollars every year.”

He said tuition increases have far exceeded the rate of inflation since 2000, adding that he “would like to see them (universities) be more budget conscious.”

Regents members have said recent tuition increases were higher because the Legislature reduced funding.

Mary Jane Stankiewicz, a spokeswoman for the regents, said state funding for state universities is less now than in 2001. "The reduction of state funding has shifted costs from the state to the students. State funding has not kept up with inflation or the rising cost of doing business," she said.

Under the budget bill, the Kansas University Medical Center will lose $8.3 million over two years, and the Lawrence campus, $5.3 million.


blindrabbit 4 years, 11 months ago

Not hard to believe, Kansas is the only State that has the C-Street lovin Governor Sam Brownback to contend with. We get lumped with the great forward thinking educational states of Louisiana, West Virginia and Wyoming. Wisconsin is a puzzle, but remember the Governor recall there and the resulting fallout.

WilburM 4 years, 11 months ago

Just unbelievably depressing. The Legislature just slashes, and the Governor (that great protector of higher ed) cries crocodile tears. Please. We're rocketing downward, past mediocrity, to the bottom. And Kansas students and their parents are paying more and more for a worse and worse education. Brilliant.

blindrabbit 4 years, 11 months ago

Did not know Smilin Sam was a Pink Floyd fan; but he took The Wall too seriously! "We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control, teacher leave them kids alone" The problem is Sammy would love to apply his warped sense of thought control to the students in Kansas by imposing his Catholic/Opus Dei religious dogma! He sees no need to provide quality education at the same time he supposedly is trying to attract quality jobs with parents who expect it.

Paul R Getto 4 years, 11 months ago

Sam and his Muscular Jesus are dragging us down as fast as they can....Mississippi here we come.

Miles Nease 4 years, 11 months ago

Merrick just can't keep his mouth shut. Which is a good thing, because every time he speaks, he loses more votes. KU salaries are already fifteenth out of sixteenth in the AAU Sixteen Data Exchange. MU is last, but they are getting an increase. It won't be long before we are the bottom of the barrel.

Dave Trabert 4 years, 11 months ago

Kansas may be reducing state aid while other states are increasing but it should also be noted that Kansas is well above the national average in the percent of budget allocated to higher education. Data from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) shows that Kansas allocated 12.1% of the General Fund to higher education in 2012 as compared to the national average of 10%. Kansas also had a much greater portion of total expenditures devoted to higher education, at 16.7% versus the national average of 9.9%. Despite the minor change in funding for 2014 and 2015, Kansas will quite likely remain well above the national average.

NASBO data also shows that states reduced funding for higher education in 2012 by 7.4% but the Kansas reduction was only 1.3%. Funny, I don't recall any news stories about Kansas bucking that national trend, either.

This LJW story says the average increase next year is 3.6%; more states may increasing funding next year but a lot of them are probably still catching up from a 7.4% reduction in 2012 (i.e., they may still have a greater net reduction that Kansas).

Additional perspective and links to the data cited herein can be found at

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 11 months ago

Slow clap for you, Trabert. This is, bar none, Trabert's worst argument ever. And that is quite the accomplishment.

32 states increased funding for higher ed last year according to the Wall Street Journal (a Koch Brothers approved source) Is that the national trend you're referring to?

elliottaw 4 years, 11 months ago

maybe the % of the Kansas budget has more to do with the fact the state is bringing in less and less money every year because companies and wealthy people no longer have to pay taxes.

Bob Reinsch 4 years, 11 months ago

Mr. Trabert does a nice job framing a single aspect of Kansas spending, while completely ignoring where other states spend money. I'd be curious to know if those other states are spending money on things such as maintenance of coastal fisheries or avalanche prevention. What Mr. Trabert and his puppet masters are trying to baffle us with ... statistics.

Bryan Anderson 4 years, 11 months ago

Kansas Policy is another Koch funded Think Tank, so of course you can believe everything that Dave has to say. He has no reason whatsoever to distort and cherry-pick statistics to make these budget cuts seem as bad and ignorant as they really are.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

lucky_guy 4 years, 11 months ago

I love the way Dave quotes his own articles as a reference. Did you go to school in Kansas? That usually won't pass muster anywhere else.

elliottaw 4 years, 11 months ago

He likes his own stats, it's like the article a few weeks ago about professor pay when he added money they earn from grants they get to pay for the summer months in with the pay from the university to make it look like the school payed them more

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 11 months ago

Foolish, short-sighted, and punitive move on the part of the Kansas legislature and governor.

It might feel like a direct hit in the culture wars, a great success, sticking it to the pointy-headed intellectuals, but the economy of Kansas and the prospects of all Kansans will be reduced.

elliottaw 4 years, 11 months ago

If they had to use real number then the stats wouldn't work on the way they want them to

blindrabbit 4 years, 11 months ago

Come on Kenny (Wilk), now that the shoe is on the other foot, you find that it does not fit so well. Your chumminess with Sammy when you served in the Kansas Legislature apparently does not serve you well at your position at the Regents.

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