Archive for Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rhetoric heats up over KU as Senate committee approves plan that deletes some funding proposals for the school

March 18, 2014


— Republicans on the Senate budget-writing committee Tuesday approved a higher education spending plan that Democrats said will hurt Kansas University. Republicans denied the accusation.

Ways and Means ranking minority member Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the proposed budget "capriciously and unfairly targets the University of Kansas" and, if enacted, would send the message "that the Legislature does not support its flagship university."

Committee Chairman Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said Kelly's comments were "unusually inflammatory," adding, "I don't think it's a fair assessment."

The measure next goes to the full Senate.

Kelly complained about the budget because it omitted $2 million for KU's Translational Chemical Biology program, which would help commercialize state of the art drug advances.

Gov. Sam Brownback has also pushed for funding the program, and of his proposed enhancements at each of six public universities, KU's was the only one deleted by the Senate committee.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said removal of the $2 million was a "great disappointment."

Asked what she thought of comments that KU seemed to be under attack, Gray-Little said, "I think that's a reasonable view. It's hard to explain otherwise why that project was taken out and the others were not. I don't know what the reasons are, so I can't say that's exactly what's happening."

During the committee meeting, Vice Chairman Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, said he needed more information about the Translational Chemical program. "It is the flagship," Denning said of KU. "We all support it."

Kelly also criticized the committee budget because it did not include $1.4 million for a bond payment that would be used to help start construction of a $75 million health education building at the KU Medical Center.

Last week, KU officials said the medical school could have faced accreditation problems if it didn't get started soon on constructing the new building because its current facility is outdated.

But on Monday, KU announced it was re-accredited for eight years. The accrediting body did cite the need for a new facility and said the school must show progress by August 2015.

Masterson said that gives officials time to come up with a plan of action. But Gray-Little said the project must be further advanced.

"The point that we've been making is that in 2015, a plan that says we are still looking for funds to do something is not a very convincing plan. So we need to be further down the road," she said.

State Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina, said KU has enough in internal funds to build the health education building. He cited a report that showed KU would receive $1.17 billion from various revenue sources this fiscal year, and is expected to spend $986 million. That leaves $184 million to cover other expenses, he said.

But Gray-Little said no university is expected to spend down its revenue to zero each year, and it is common practice to have some funds in reserves.

And according to KU, the Lawrence campus has $3.7 million in reserve funds, while KU Medical Center has no reserves.


Bob Zimmerman 4 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps the Legislature has questions or concerns about KU's technology commercialization strategy; noting that recently a group of KU faculty have publicly requested control over their inventions they create on their own time. These two issues may be related.

Should KU present their commercialization strategy to the Legislature and respond to questions? This would help clear the air and support transparency.

Jack Martin 4 years, 2 months ago

Only by mixing different budget years and different sources together can one create an apparent gap where it does not actually exist.

The $184 million figure can only be arrived at by comparing two different reports on two different fiscal years at KU. In the current fiscal year (FY 2014), KU's revenues and expenditures are both $1.17 billion - i.e. no gap.

The $986 million expenditures figure cited by Sen. Arpke comes from a Kansas Legislative Research Department summary of the Governor's FY 2015 Budget. That KLRD summary leaves out many tens of millions of dollars in expenditures that are accounted for in the Governor's Budget.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

In essence KU cannot afford the extremists politics of ALEC, Sam Brownback and any politicians that sign off on back door legislation created behind ALEC back doors.

Increasing Profits for School Companies, Undermining Teachers, and Promoting "Conservatives" on Campus

Privatizing Public Education, Higher Ed Policy, and Teachers

This page reveals how ALEC bills would privatize public education, crush teacher's unions, and push American universities to the right.

Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds.

Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific state laws to change the American education system. Do you?

ALEC bills and resolutions also attempt to change college education by:

Promoting right-wing ideology in public universities through the Academic Bill of Rights, a document supported by extremist David Horowitz. See also here.

Requiring universities to annually report to the legislature on "intellectual diversity"-- a term that is code for right-wing ideology, an odd requirement considering ALEC’s antipathy toward regulation. (See also this bill).

Giving tax advantages to wealthy families who fund their children’s college education by allowing exemptions from taxation for college savings accounts

Penalizing college students who study for more than four years

Subsidizing private universities by offering taxpayer-funded vouchers to for-profit and religious institutions of higher education, and

Treating universities like manufacturers and setting aside significant portions of the legislature's higher education budget to reward institutions for students who complete courses and graduate in greater numbers at lower per-unit expense.

To see a full list of these bills, click here.,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

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