Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

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.”


situveux1 10 months, 1 week ago

The Morans moved to Manhattan.


jayhawklawrence 10 months, 1 week 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.


Jock Navels 10 months, 1 week ago

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


yourworstnightmare 10 months, 1 week 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.


Bob_Keeshan 10 months, 1 week 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.


question4u 10 months, 1 week 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...


Slowponder 10 months, 1 week 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.


Shelley Bock 10 months, 1 week 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.


Richard Heckler 10 months, 1 week 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.


toe 10 months, 1 week ago

The regents have been going in the opposite direction of the taxpayers, too.


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