Archive for Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kansas House Speaker Merrick blasts regents, KU over funding, salary issues

June 25, 2013, 2:23 p.m. Updated June 25, 2013, 2:24 p.m.


— Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick today criticized the Kansas Board of Regents and Kansas University over spending and salaries, including pay raises given to university leaders.

In response, KU spokesman Jack Martin said, "We would welcome Speaker Merrick and his colleagues to visit the university to learn how we’re educating leaders and making discoveries. We’d also like to show them how we are saving money in administrative operations that we then reinvest in teaching and research."

Last week, the regents approved a nearly 14 percent, or $60,000, pay raise for KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

The regents approved raises for all six public university leaders, saying the increases were needed to bring them up to the pay of chief executives at peer institutions.

The raises were all privately financed through the schools' fundraising associations.The increase brought Gray-Little's salary to $492,650. Of that amount, $271,986 is state funded, and $220,664 is privately funded.

Today, Merrick, a Republican from Stilwell, said, "To say we need to bring them up to parity — it's a free market out there. If they want to leave, they leave and somebody else is going to take their place. To say we need to compete with everybody else, I don't buy that."

He also criticized KU for searching for a new vice provost for diversity and equity.

"I see a thing today where KU is replacing a diversity person at a $170-some thousand a year. I'd like to go through and see how many people they have like that on their payroll," he said.

But KU's Martin said Kansas is becoming an increasingly diverse state "and we have a responsibility as the state's flagship university to represent our state."

The regents have been critical of recent cuts to higher education funding by Republican leaders. The board blasted legislators last week, saying that the budget cuts contributed to tuition increases.

KU faces cuts of $13.6 million over two years.

But Merrick shot back at the regents. "I don't think they're doing anything to help their cause. As I stand back to look at things, I think the Board of Regents might be a little complicit in not having any oversight," he said.

The Kansas Board of Regents issued a statement, reiterating the board's earlier request of legislative leaders for budget meetings, which the board said it hoped "will lead to an open and constructive conversation about the challenges and the opportunities facing our state universities, especially in light of the continual decline of state support of higher education."

Merrick also dismissed the idea of having to increase funding to recruit and retain top professors.

"This competing for professors — they don't teach classes anyway. The graduate assistants do the teaching. There are very few professors that sit in the classroom and teach," he said.

But Martin disagreed, saying, "Essentially all of our professors teach, as the thousands of graduates who earned their KU degrees this year can attest. Research enhances teaching and brings Kansas more than $250 million a year, creating jobs and prosperity. That’s a huge return on a shrinking state investment."

Martin added, "Just today we announced that our pharmacy professors who earned NIH grants each brought an average of more than $1 million in research projects to Kansas last year. Their research informs their teaching and is leading to a range of new pharmaceuticals for patients."

Meanwhile, Gov. Sam Brownback said he will continue to fight for what he called stable funding for the universities.

Brownback had called for no cuts to higher education, but he ended up signing the cuts into law when he approved the budget. The cuts total $44 million over two years, about 3 percent per year. Although for some schools, the cuts were deeper. KU Medical Center will see a reduction of more than 8 percent.

"The power of the Legislature is the power of the purse," Brownback said. "At the end of the day that's their constitutional role."


oldexbeat 9 months, 2 weeks ago

how do you demand that Merrick resign due to non-citizenship ? can the Ks Dem party do something ? Or does a member of his district have to go to court ? I'm really thinking this is an issue to push until proof is given or not. I doubt he is a citizen.


Richard Heckler 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Generally in the real world if executives were busy making decisions based on their personal agendas they would be terminated.

Time for a whole lot of resignations by Monday at 6 A.M. The state of Kansas cannot afford a Koch/Brownback government. It is reckless and way too expensive.


oldexbeat 9 months, 3 weeks ago

is Merrick a citizen ? I can't find any information that would indicate that he ever got his US citizenship after being born to in a different country to a non-US citizen. Anyone actually know or has he just 'overlooked' that problem ?

And no, being adopted doesn't solve it for his age group. And no, being in the service didn't solve it. Etc.

We need to demand to see his papers. (like he wanted to see the President's).


konzahawk 9 months, 3 weeks ago

If any KU grad, Republican or Democrat, votes for Merrick, Rhoades or Arpke, they should turn in their diploma.


jgkojak 9 months, 3 weeks ago

So let me get this straight...

Republicans are always defending huge CEO salaries, saying they are justified in making as much as they do and you have to pay to have the best.

Why doesn't that apply to Education or everything else?

Does he really believe that we can continue to be an AAU, Top 100 University without paying the best people competitively.

Fire Bill Self, hire some young guy we don't have to pay as much. I'm sure they'll be just as successful???

Merrick is an idiot.


JuanValdez 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The way the Kansas legislature is behaving KU will soon have to choose between trying to remain a top tier University and being a public University.


weeslicket 9 months, 3 weeks ago

i skipped past a lot of stuff.

questions: how have public, land grant colleges and universities harmed this state or nation? in what ways have we as a people been harmed by investing in learning, understanding, applying, and knowing?

this is not the boosterism i read about in boorstin.


Larry Sturm 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Where did Merrick get his education the way it sounds he didn't get any at all. He voted for no funding increase and then complains about using fund that they have access to that should be used for other things.


toe 9 months, 3 weeks ago

KU's single party support is causing problems. Time to go private and be taxed by the state for all the revenue it generates.


SouthWestKs 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Look around you, you KU people. KU does not belive in diversity.


John McCoy 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Brownback and his Republican minions want to govern Dogpatch, not Kansas.


Michael LoBurgio 9 months, 3 weeks ago

How a bill becomes law in kansas picture below.


positive 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Many of us here knew such a reaction was coming after the poorly timed raise for BGL and then the diversity search. IMO the state universities are great for Kansas and the decreased state support is a mistake. However, it is true that KU does have multiple administrative positions with titles that boggle the mind (Associate Vice Provost of ....). This is not just a matter of marketing. Many of these positions exist to create more work for others so that the Associate Provost of Vice can get a raise. The mistake is to suggest that because of some fat, we should make huge cuts or that a random guy in the coffee shop knows exactly where to cut. The analogy would be suggesting that a fat guy should cut off his legs to lose weight.


lawrenceloser 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I would be interested to know if Mr. Trabert only trolls the Lawrence Journal World....


JuanValdez 9 months, 3 weeks ago

It is very clear the Republican party in Kansas is against education at every level. It is up o the citizens of Kansas to decide if this is the kind of leadership they what they want for their kids.

Mr. Merric is right about one thing, free market means that the most qualified people at KU do not have to sit here and wath him and his party run the educational system in Kansas into the ground.

Free market also means that gifted young people looking for a high paying jobs and a good quality of life do not have to stay in Kansas and watch him and his party run the state into the ground. There are plenty of opportunities out there for them.


Richard Heckler 9 months, 3 weeks ago

There are about 13 states as we speak that have the same mentality as a Koch government demands. Yes much of the funding for these right wing governments comes the same source aka Koch money. This is the same money that unseats traditional old school fiscal conservative republicans.

IF one wants a birds eye view as to what is in the future as a result of ALEC all that is is necessary is to follow the activities in Ohio,Wisconsin,Kansas,Florida etc etc etc. 13 states are following the same agenda. These guidelines are established largely by ALEC which sidesteps open discussion regarding state legislation.

ALEC’s campaigns and model legislation have run the gamut of issues, but all have either protected or promoted a corporate revenue stream, often at the expense of consumers aka taxpayers.

Note many of the draft bills outline the privatization of Social Security, schools, prisons etc etc etc. The Koch Brothers, big tobacco, insurance companies, and the drug industry: all behind the shadowy corporate front group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On the surface, ALEC is mostly comprised of thousands of state legislators, each paying a nominal fee to attend ALEC retreats and receive model legislation.

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Robert Burnham 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Hey Kansas_cynic, you have your nose so far up Soros' arse, you can't see what's happening to America....and like I always say..IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT HERE, LEAVE!


Robert Burnham 9 months, 3 weeks ago

" KU faces cuts of $13.6 million over two years" and despite that they decide to give out some hefty pay raises...sounds to me like they don't need the tax payers money at all....I say we cut out more of that taxpayer money to KU.....and do away with those worthless Psychology, Sociology and History degrees.....and yes, I know I'm going t hear it from all you students who happen to be working on these to me a couple years AFTER college and you're working at 7-11....if the 11 million " new " citizens don't get there first! LOL


Susan Shaw 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I had wondered if he even went to college. He doesn't sound like an educated person. I thought he was a dork during the legislative session and this is just more evidence. These are our leaders? Pretty discouraging. I've enjoyed reading everybody's comments, especially Ywn's comment about the stiff competition for the dumbest thing said by a legislator.


cowboy 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Merrick attended KU , must have not made it as he then went to washburn and got a BA in business. Kansas chair for ALEC. nuff said.


fmrl 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I graduated from KU in 79 and I can't remember any "talented faculty." What I do remember is a lot of duds.


yourworstnightmare 9 months, 3 weeks ago

"To say we need to bring them up to parity — it's a free market out there. If they want to leave, they leave and somebody else is going to take their place. To say we need to compete with everybody else, I don't buy that."

Possibly one of the most ignorant things said by a Kansas legislator this year, and that is some stiff competition.

To acknowledge a free market for talented faculty and administrators and then to say that KU doesn't need to compete is all but ensuring that KU is going to lose all of its talent and continue a slide into mediocrity or worse. Wow.


rgh 9 months, 3 weeks ago

It's never been more clear that Merrick and the right winged republican party is out of touch with reality (not all republicans mind you). To say that KU leadership is an open market and they are free to go elsewhere because someone new will come in is absurd. About 1/2 the salary is not even paid by the state and all our regent universities need the best leadership in the country from KU to Emporia to Fort Hays. It simply continues the sad state of affairs for education in Kansas as whole.


bobberboy 9 months, 3 weeks ago

It's funny how Kansas legs. are always harping about bringing business to the state. I guess they don't realize that there's nothing here to bring them in. The only thing kansas could have going for it is that they do pay a competitive rate. I think very few of our legs. even understand this !!!!


kansas_cynic 9 months, 3 weeks ago

This is the kind of response you can expect from the current Koch owned legislature. The raise was approved last week, guess it took till now for the Koch, ALEC memo to arrive with all the correct talking points.


Centerville 9 months, 3 weeks ago

So, what does a 'diversity person' do that's worth $170,000 of taxpayer money? Which is about 30 families' worth of state income taxes.


oliver983 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Merrick needs someone to intervene on his behalf. A man or woman with a fully functioning brain would be a vast improvement.


question4u 9 months, 3 weeks ago

"'I see a thing today where KU is replacing a diversity person at a $170-some thousand a year. I'd like to go through and see how many people they have like that on their payroll,' he [Merrick] said."

Wow Mr. Merrick, you could not more clearly have exposed your intellectual failings. You freely admit that only "today" you learned about a diversity position at KU. You also freely admit that you do not know how many "people like that" are on the KU payroll.

If you confess to this ignorance, then how could you have even the slightest idea whether or not a "diversity person" is needed and whether or not the salary is reasonable? Yes, it seems customary in the Kansas Legislature to take action first and then ask questions (if at all), but what sense does that make? When has it ever been smart to draw conclusions first and then look for evidence afterward? That's as backward and illogical as it gets.

A "diversity person" might be the least necessary employee at KU and the salary might be the most inflated in the state. Most people don't know one way or the other, but an intelligent person would find out. To just jump to your conclusions while confessing ignorance is childish. Do your research FIRST. It's a simple rule to follow. You can blast away all you like AFTER you actually have knowledge of something, but doing so before is just a blatant sign of ineptitude.

Is this really what Kansas has come to? Does ignorance really rule? Are there really people who think that someone like Merrick is competent to lead anything?


chootspa 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm shocked, shocked to see this line of attack after I told you it would happen.

Where's the talk about inequitable corporate pay? Where's the quibbling about how the Kochs are spending that massive tax cut?


fearthephog512 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Merrick is a total moron. His logic collapses on itself time and again. Can't wait for the 2014 elections ...


irtnog2001 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Why can't we put someone like Jon Wefald on the Regents? Someone with some gravitas in the education community whose decisions are likely to command more respect than lawyers and those with political connections?


Left_of_Lawrence 9 months, 3 weeks ago

No complaint from Mr. Speaker if private funds help pay for college coaches, but if the same thing is done in academia it is somehow corrupt. Nothing to do with the Regents and University Presidents being critical of your budget. Sure. What do you bet that Mr. Merrick is a member of ALEC?


Thinking_Out_Loud 9 months, 3 weeks ago

So, let me get this straight. Speaker Merrick does not believe that Kansas's universities need to compete for the best/brightest leaders...and he does not believe that retaining talent is important.

That is not a management philosophy I would want in my company. And, if we really want to "run government like a business" (there's an argument to be had on whether a government should be run like a business, but let's leave that for a more likely opportunity), it's not a management philosophy I want in my government.


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