Archive for Sunday, June 9, 2013

Regents, Legislature going in opposite directions on higher education funding

June 9, 2013


— Robba Moran — a member of the Kansas Board of Regents and wife of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. — says that when her husband comes home to Hays on the weekend, the two of them have a whinefest.

He whines about federal agencies. Her whine? "I have a Legislature that doesn't seem to value education," she says.

Robba Moran, a Republican, and other Republicans and Democrats on the regents last week blasted the Legislature for cutting the higher education budget.

It was a bipartisan fusillade against partisan budget cuts that were passed with only Republican votes.

The tale gets stranger because many of the Republicans who voted for the budget cuts walk hand-in-hand with Gov. Sam Brownback on most issues.

On higher education, however, Brownback spoke against the budget cuts.

He lost.

The appropriations bill sent to Brownback's desk will cut higher education by $66 million, or 5.7 percent over two years. The bill includes a 1.5 percent across-the-board cut for each of the next 2 years, and limits on salary expenses, which officials of some institutions, including Kansas University, have said will be a significant problem to figure out and implement.

"It's never good to cut higher education," said Regents Vice Chairman Fred Logan of Leawood, a Brownback appointee.

The Kansas cuts come at a time when nearby states are increasing funds to higher education.

In Iowa, legislators agreed to a 2.6 percent increase and the state universities there promised to freeze in-state tuition for a year. Nebraska officials also froze tuition after legislators there approved a 4 percent increase in funding.

Missouri's budget includes a $25 million increase for higher education, including $10 million for Missouri University's medical building. Colorado's higher education budget was increased by $30 million and Oklahoma's by $33 million.

The cuts in Kansas will make the regents universities a target for aggressive recruiting of faculty and staff from schools in other states, officials said.

In documents provided to the regents to back up its tuition increase proposal, KU said in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences alone, it "engaged in 29 counteroffers, preemptive counteroffers and spousal accommodations in order to retain highly productive faculty courted by other institutions." Of those, 19 had been retained, six resigned and four remain uncertain.

"These are mainly midcareer to senior faculty, and their loss would impact negatively not only research stature and teaching excellence but also leadership and mentoring that are essential to the quality of all academic programming," KU said.

But legislative leaders had indicated a desire to find ways that universities could save even more money.

House Appropriations Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, has called for hearings during the interim period to drill down into school budgets, and House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said, "We believe that, like state government as a whole, the Regents can scrutinize spending and find ways to be more efficient.”


Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Move On and Occupy Wall Street are fiscal responsible public policy advocate groups.

Whereas the Koch/Wal-Mart/ALEC party is a Rt Wing Anti Women Libertarian Neocon Fundamentalist Tea Party backed by Koch/Wal-Mart/ALEC Economic Terrorism. Privatization represents corporations supported with YOUR tax dollars = not fiscal responsible.

Move On and Occupy are the Fiscal Conservative Groups which have the focus of saving more jobs from outsourcing,responsible taxation, restoring American rights, supporting public and higher education ,standing behind Pro-Choice for women and supporting cleaner energy sources of the future.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Listen, MoveOn and Occupy have a legitimate place in American society. I was supportive of Occupy if for no other reason that I was hoping they would invigorate an apathetic group that tends not to vote. I was hoping those on the left, right and center would come out to the polls. But calling them "fiscal responsible public policy advocate groups" is simply laughable.

BTW - The Koch brothers deserve a place as much as anyone. Wal-Mart as much as anyone. ALEC as much as anyone. Right Wing as much as Left Wing. Anti-Woman's Lib as much as Pro-Woman's Lib. Tea Party as much as Progressive Party. Pro-choice as much as Pro-life. All Americans are entitled to a voice.

Shelley Bock 5 years ago

Brownback is "playing" university supporters. He is talking as if he's supportive, but in reality, he has nothing to gain by going against "his" legislature. Reducing university support continues his agenda and education is the target. What can can he do? If he vetoes the budget and recalls a legislature that wants the cuts, do you really think the budget would favor universities more? They'd likely come in with a budget worse than the present one simply to be spiteful.

And, to be realistic, what would he gain if he would do that? Are there voters who support increased education spending who would change their vote to Brownback solely on this issue? He'd lose more people like "toe" above who want reductions. He has nothing to gain by supporting education. His university tour was an exercise in empty, vacuous words designed to placate some and create an impression. But, as we should know by now, that was a meaningless effort.

My question is whether Brownback will show up at any university athletic functions this year? Will he greet the National Champion KU women's track team? (Likely, only in his office.) Will he come to any KU basketball games this year? Faculty, students, even KU supporters would likely greet him as "warmly" as they would a Mizzou team or Quantrill and his band of raiders. (I had thought of saying Norm Stewart, but his image has mellowed over the years, and the young ones don't remember him). Remember, these are the folks who are directly impacted by his measures. Then, again, he might relish in showing "toe" and his friends how all of those nasty liberals in Lawrence don't like him.

Will Brownback's policies eventually hurt enough reasonable Kansans to have him defeated in the next election? Don't know, but can hope and work for it.

Jonathan Becker 5 years ago

If these tax cuts are going to "unleash the Kansas economic engine" (Sammie's words), and create jobs, who is going to be educated enough for jobs at Boeing, Sprint or Garmin? According to this article, those jobs will be fulfilled by Sooners, Cowboys, Buffs, Huskers, Cyclones, Hawkeyes, and (ugh) Tigers. If that is the goal, lets drop all pretense, and close all higher education institutions and rely on neighbor states.

question4u 5 years ago

The University of Missouri The University of Colorado The University of Oklahoma The University of Nebraska

All are ranked higher than KU. Significant cuts over the next two years will widen the gap. But it's OK. Kansas doesn't have to keep up in research or production of an educated workforce. It's not as though Kansas has to compete with these states just because they're next door.

As long as Kansas has a higher ranked university than any in Alabama (oops, forget that, since it doesn't)...As long as Kansas has a university ranked higher than any in Iowa (oops, Iowa beats Kansas twice) ...As long as Kansas has a higher ranked university than any in South Carolina (oops, Clemson is there and is a public university too)...As long as Kansas has a higher ranked university than any in Louisiana (oops, forgot about Tulane. It may be private, but it's still in Louisiana, not Kansas)...As long as Kansas has a higher ranked university than any in Texas (oops, forgot about TU, A&M, Baylor...) As long as Kansas has a higher ranked university than any in Utah (oops, Brigham Young is ranked almost 40 spots higher). As long as Kansas has a university ranked higher than any in Tennessee (oops, nope)...As long as Kansas has a university ranked higher than any in...well, don't even bring up Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, California, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan...

What about Idaho? Yes, that's it. As long as Kansas has a university ranked higher than any in Idaho, then Kansas will be a leader in research and a major competitor for new businesses.

Of course after two years of significant cuts to funding of Kansas higher education...

Miles Nease 5 years ago

I'm as upset as everyone else with these budget cuts, but US News rankings don't really define the overall quality of a university. Many schools cook the numbers to get higher rankings. What alarms me is the fact that every neighboring state is increasing higher education funding and we are cutting. KU alums in the state need to vote these bums out of office, particularly, Rhoades, Merrick and Arple. They hate KU and have no problem showing it.

Dave Trabert 5 years ago

Measuring support by how much is spent on things is a major deterrent to progress. 'Just spend more' accomplishes nothing..well, except for raising everyone's tax burden and slowing economic progress. It costs a lot of money to pay for education, highways, etc. but we should be looking at the outputs instead of the spending. Are education outcomes improving? Are they acceptable? What is being done to improve?

Real measurements...not justifying the status quo.

chootspa 5 years ago

The funding has been decreasing for ages. If you seriously believe that's not part of the problem, I suggest you start rejecting all donations to KPI until your analysis improves.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years ago

In Kansas, legislators complain about tuition and respond by slashing funding.

In Iowa and Nebraska, complaints about tuition led to increased funding and a tuition freeze.

Just another example of the Kansas "grand experiment" being led by Brownback.

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

KU has two options.

The first is to continue to work with the legislature and governor to argue the economic and educational benefits KU provides in hopes that they will suddenly wake up and start supporting it (or that Kansas voters wake up and stop electing these anarchists to the legislature).

I have very little confidence that either of these things will happen.

The second option is for KU to become a private institution. If the state would donate the lands and buildings, they would not have to give KU one more dime going forward. It would be difficult initially, and it might not work, resulting in worse conditions than now. But, it is the only chance that KU has to excel and become a good, not great, university. Otherwise, KU wil continue to wallow in mediocrity and nostalgic memories of what once was and what once could have been.

I suppose the third option is for KU to just shut down, along with all of the other Regent's institutions. This would certainly save Kansas taxpayers money.

elliottaw 5 years ago

If they were to seperate themselves from KU they would not be able to force them to open centers and do research

Jock Navels 5 years ago

just shut down...move the basketball team to New Jersey, and shut the rest down. hellyeah!

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

According to Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute and according to the right wing legislature, the Kansas Schools are loaded with cash.

According to the Kansas Supreme Court, the Regents and the Kansas Schools themselves, we are in big trouble.

I would like to hear more details and less rhetoric. I would like to know in greater detail how these right wing politicians are justifying these cuts. It has been my experience that they are not interested in sharing that information and Dave Trabert is very good at skewing the information he gives you.

Publicly, Brownback is saying that we need more money for schools. If he signs the bill, we can assume he is lying.

Dave Trabert 5 years ago

I would be happy to come to Lawrence and provide more details in a public setting. And by all means, invite school superintendents and Regents.

chootspa 5 years ago

You whine about not getting enough face time with superintendents and Regents, but there's a very good reason why you don't. The public doesn't need to have libertarian extremist radicals like you treated as if you had an equally valid opinion or anything constructive to contribute to the discussion.

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