Editorial: Enough cuts

State universities have endured painful budget reductions; now it’s the state’s turn to step up.

August 26, 2016


The $1.3 million in program cuts announced Wednesday at the University of Kansas were unfortunate but necessary after Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature slashed state funding for KU by $7 million in May.

One can only hope that Brownback and the legislative leadership respect KU’s efforts to reduce spending and, as Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little requested last month, resist cutting the state’s flagship university further in the coming session.

The cuts announced by Provost Neeli Bendapudi Wednesday include $400,200 in the “faculty cluster hire program”; $311,600 for the Kansas Geological Survey; $300,000 in International Programs; $100,000 each to Kansas Public Radio and to Audio Reader, a reading service for the visually impaired; and $70,000 to the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute located on the Edwards campus in Overland Park.

Unfortunately, there are more cuts to come. Bendapudi said the program cuts announced Wednesday make up less than half of what will need to be made on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses this year. Additional cuts will total nearly $3.8 million, or about 59 percent of all the cuts this year. Those cuts won’t be announced until after the official enrollment headcount is completed in September because funding for several programs is based on enrollment.

The cuts announced Wednesday are significant. The Kansas Geological Survey has played a critical role in identifying and monitoring an alarming increase in earthquake activity in south-central Kansas related to oil and gas exploration. As a result of the cuts, the survey’s executive director, Rex Buchannan, said KGS plans to expand its branch office in Wichita, which houses a unit that monitors oil and gas wells, will likely be delayed. The Audio Reader program relies heavily on university funding, and the $100,000 slashed represents 20 percent of those funds.

The faculty cluster hire is a program designed to hire faculty from a variety of disciplines who focus on a common theme, such as water resources, to generate more innovative research. With the $400,200 cut, three of the five remaining positions in the program will go unfilled.

Frustratingly, state cuts to higher education were not equal. In May, Brownback ordered $97 million in spending cuts to the state budget in order to balance it with expected revenues for this fiscal year. That translated to a 4 percent cut for most state agencies, including $23.6 million to the six universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents.

KU and Kansas State University, however, took proportionately larger cuts of about 5 percent each because of a stipulation the Legislature inserted in the budget bill to protect smaller universities that rely more heavily on state funding than the larger research institutions do.

KU and the state’s other universities are to be commended for their ability to adjust to the continuing decline in state support. Higher education has done its part. The challenge is now for the governor and the Legislature to find another way to balance the state’s budget other than slashing the institutions most critical to job and income creation and, ultimately, economic recovery.


Mike Green 1 year, 8 months ago

Yet everywhere I look on campus I see cranes, the most expensive building in kansas, super luxury housing for football and basketball players. . . .

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 8 months ago

Most of these are being paid for by donations or other means than Kansas tax dollars. Why do you think that the business school building is named for Cap Fed? Universities have been working with the private sector like they were told to in order to function, but the state keeps cutting and cutting despite all this. And then when they find ways to fund bypassing the state, they get in trouble. The state wants to have all the power over the universities, but they don't want to fund them. Please inform yourself about school funding. Assuming something seldom works.

Kevin Kelly 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't care if mom makes the money in outer space, if it came from that shady uncle, or it appeared from a fairy. When tuition is as high as it has ever been and the state is so screwed up no one knows where we're headed it might not be the best time for KU to decide to build for profit housing or anything else in the 100's of millions of dollars. You are right, the main purpose of function is to educate KU students and the recent use of any monies at this time no matter where they have appeared from may be 2 different things; but, that doesn't make the recent indulgent spending a right choice.

Mike Green 1 year, 8 months ago

Dorothy, we all assume things all the time, and are usually right. I'm somewhat aware of KU's endowment, where it gets its funding, where it invests it, and where it spends it. Soliciting endowment dollars for specific projects shrinks the pool that some universities even use to assist tuition costs. That"donation", that is actually a payment for program input, department head choice, advertising rights, and other things like football suites with fancy alcohol & food provided by university catering services. Cap fed thought donating a building to KU would be the right thing to do? ? How much do great seats at Allen fieldhouse go for now? $150,000. each? The very act of "donating" the money increases my taxes because the government allows them to lower their tax load with the purchase of those third row seats.

Paul Jones 1 year, 8 months ago

Right on Mike. The tax deductions for giving to endowment for anything other than academics needs to go away. It is ridiculous that people earn Williams Fund points for special seating and can write it off on their already low tax payments. More perks for the rich while undermining the academics.

Bob Summers 1 year, 8 months ago

For being highly educated, critical thinking intellectuals, with profound philosophies on how everyone else should be living their lives, people with the congenital Liberal condition sure do not know how to save, or miser, other peoples money when they need it most

Amy Varoli Elliott 1 year, 8 months ago

Look at the history of the national debt, which way does it go when Repubs are in office (up in case your confused) but when Dems are in office it tends to do down.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 8 months ago

Dems are highly known for knowing that to make money, you have to spend money.

Bob Summers 1 year, 8 months ago

Dems are highly known for knowing that to make money, you have to spend other peoples money.

Fixed that for ya CM.

Joe Young 1 year, 8 months ago

The conservatives HAVE to cut spending on higher education...The more people that believe that 3 minus 2 really does equal 5 keeps them in office. We can't afford to teach kids the truth.

Mike Riner 1 year, 8 months ago

Dorothy, the bulk of the money for these buildings may come from private sources, but there usually is NO money for continued preventative maintenance. For years and years, the buildings on campus have fallen into disrepair and there are seldom any funds for upkeep and/or repair!

Mike Green 1 year, 8 months ago

Not just preventive maintenance, everything from janitors, lightbulbs, building managers, and all utilities.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

When corporations donate money to construct a building or a football stadium where did that money come from?

Perhaps media giants could provide gold level cable TV to every home for $1.00 per month instead ?

Perhaps financial institutions could reduce their interest rates by 80% instead?

How about big oil reducing the cost of gasoline by 75% instead?

On a related issue....

Governor Brownback should know by now what the taxpayers want for their public education system. If Gov Brownback does not know Gov Brownback perhaps has not been paying attention.

The taxpayers want the original formula reinstated. Taxpayers had been supporting that formula for decades which indicates they were willing to continue doing so. It has never been anywhere near a simple majority of taxpayers requesting a change.

It is politicians making the changes based on a personal agenda established by:

--- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-van-roekel/exposing-alecs-agenda-to-_b_3223651.html

--- http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures#Voter

The above does not warrant legislative changes because those changes have never been approved by the voters which should be a mandate.

Managed by:

--- http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/koch-brothers-candidate-training-recruiting-aegis-strategic

Michael Kort 1 year, 8 months ago

Let us not confuse " The State of Kansas " with the " STEALTH LIBERTARIANS " who run the Republican Party in Kansas and thusly The State . .

Check, roll back income and property taxes for the benefit of the STEALTH .

Check, no taxes on LLC businesses for the benefit of the STEALTH ,

Check, shift all taxes to regressive sales taxes that impact the poor and the middle classes, disproportionately, to their STEALTH benefit to incomes for themselves .

Check, deregulate all businesses......get government out of your ( their STEALTH ) businesses models ( for greeds' success )......even if that means that the public and their children faces preloaded consumer perils at every turn for themselves .

Check, shrink government in all forms and go for the throat.......why do children need an education ? Why should the STEALTH pay for anyone's kid to go to public K-12 or to a public college ?

Best way to hide in the press, is in plain sight !

The STEALTH own Kansas and they are bussy about their LIBERTARIAN GOALS, in plain sight with their hijacked political party .

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