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Archive for Thursday, July 18, 2013

Editorial: Wrong direction

While other states are investing in higher education, state lawmakers are making budget cuts that will make Kansas schools less competitive.

July 18, 2013

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Sometimes, you don’t want to stand out.

Unfortunately, that’s the case with the Sunflower State these days. We’re one of five states that has reduced state funding to public universities, according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Contrarian actions sometimes can represent a valuable strategic gamble. Usually, however, they’re a terrible misjudgment, and that’s probably the situation for our state universities.

The average increase in education funding for the states in the survey (data from three were unavailable or changing) was 3.6 percent. In Kansas, however, the Legislature found it possible to put in place reductions of about 3 percent annually for the next two years.

So it’s a tough road ahead for Kansas University and its sister institutions as they try to maintain programs and retain valued faculty members. Their competitors are getting a fresh infusion of dollars from legislators elsewhere who realize that education can drive their states’ economic well-being.

Former Kansas lawmaker Kenny Wilk, now vice chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, appeared to lament the Legislature’s action. “It’s not just about the universities. It’s about the overall health and well-being of our state and growing our economy,” he said. “I think it’s a great investment.”

Kansas, however, is hewing to the conservative Republican agenda that everything from the Kansas Turnpike to universities, from K-12 education to health spending, must be cut in order to finance the grand experiment of eliminating the state income tax. Supposedly that change will spur overwhelming economic growth and supercharge the state’s economy. The streets will be paved with gold!

But the unkindest cut of all for the universities may be the sentiment expressed by House Speaker Ray Merrick. Giving lip service to the importance of higher education to the Kansas economy, he added that the institutions should be held accountable for their spending and specifically complained about recent tuition increases. Regents noted that state funding for the universities now is at a lower level than in 2001; students and their parents are taking up the slack.

In all this mess, it’s unfortunate that there’s no dynamic individual to speak up for the value of higher education and challenge the small-minded thinkers who seem to have grabbed the microphone.

Until that happens, Kansas will continue to stand out. Like a sore thumb.

Comments

Richard Heckler 9 months ago

Michigan governor and Brownback have a lot in common...... laugh all you want. ALEC infection is nationwide. Then again the Ohio and Wisconsin governors also have a lot in common with Brownback. Then we go to Florida. How can we forget Texas?

Brownback is Koch and ALEC.

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Richard Heckler 9 months ago

Beware Detroit filed for bankruptcy. Michigan is among the states that ALEC influences. ALEC believes in defunding communities to the point of no return as much as possible.

Then the ALEC concept steps in thus meaning private industry takes over everything possible getting paid with OUR tax dollars. Which means OUR tax dollars will go to special interest political financing of right wing politicians posing as republicans.

ALEC/Americans for Prosperity loves our tax dollars. In order to support privatization OUR taxes will increase to support the lifestyle of corporate America.

Kansas Club for Growth,ALEC/Americans for Prosperity,Brownback and Wal-Mart family do not want a lot of people to become educated. It has been part of the dumb down concept for about 33 years. These thinkers do love OUR tax dollars in spite of their lying.

Beware another 4 years of Kansas Club for Growth,ALEC/Americans for Prosperity,Brownback and Wal-Mart family thinkers will place our public education system in their bank accounts.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 months ago

This is just another fight from the facist republicans elected by the ignorant Kansas votrers who are buying the Koch line. They rail against the non-citizen black president and continue to cut themsleves in the throat to oppose anything that smacks of the federal government.

This is what you get with the Koch brand republicans.

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positive 9 months ago

A practical solution to this problem for KU is to raise tuition and keep the best faculty. There is no need to get into a fight with the legislature. The state funding is low by any historical standard with no hope for increase. If KU waits for state funding, it will be too late. Building a great university from scratch is more difficult than trying to maintain a great university. I guess I will have to pay more for my kids to go to KU, but that is better than paying much more for a similar quality private school or paying even more for a worse out of state school (like MU).

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nominalize 9 months ago

I think that Brownback's attempt to be more Texas than Texas is doomed to fail. You can't beat Texas at their own game. Because what does Kansas offer that Texas doesn't? Texas has no income tax at all... but even if Kansas doesn't, who would bring their business here instead of there? Texas has six times the population (i.e. a far larger local market and employee pool), two major airports, a world-class port, four of the largest metros in the US, even a liberal tech hub in Austin (which is Texas's 8th largest city, yet twice as large as Wichita). It has 8 major league sports teams to buy corporate suites at, to Kansas's none. It has a large influx of migrants from South and North, and a ton of tourists as well. The free market speaks clearly, and it speaks for Texas.

Oh, and even during the big recession, Texas invested heavily in its state universities to raise more of them to R-1 status. That investment is going to pay them dividends for years to come.

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jayhawklawrence 9 months ago

I think when you study the pay scale of these state "bureacracies" they start to make an argument towards the need for a living wage.

When you analyze what the politicians are focused on, it rarely helps the sinking middle class, however, affordability of education is probably the most important bridge we have left to achieving a higher quality of life.

Brownback has done more to attack education then anyone in Kansas history.

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jayhawklawrence 9 months ago

I think when you study the pay scale of these state "bureacracies" they start to make an argument towards the need for a living wage.

When you analyze what the politicians are focused on, it rarely helps the sinking middle class.

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fmrl 9 months ago

I think that all education funding should be contingent upon every university and school district doing an audit of their personnel. Over the decades these bureaucracies have engaged in empire building, creating a lot of unnecessary positions. Some of these positions are actually a hindrance to the actual teaching.

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Michael LoBurgio 9 months ago

Governor #Brownback aggressively lobbied for the #ksleg budget that cut Kansas higher education next year, making Kansas one of only five states in the nation to do so in FY 2014. This funding cut was directly passed to the student in the form of higher tuition. In some cases, tuition is going up next year as much as 8%. This is all happening to pay for Governor Brownback's income tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations.

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oneeye_wilbur 9 months ago

Oh baloney! Something has to be cut! How in the world did people get educated before?

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