KU leaders disappointed university won’t see restoration of $7.4M cuts under Brownback’s budget plan

A bus passes in front of Strong Hall Nov. 16, 2015, on the University of Kansas campus.

A high-ranking University of Kansas official has spoken out against Gov. Sam Brownback’s recently unveiled budget plan and its failure to restore the $24 million in state funds that Kansas public universities lost to Brownback-ordered budget cuts in 2016.

Reggie Robinson, KU’s interim vice chancellor for public affairs, expressed his university’s collective disappointment with the proposed budget Thursday in a statement to the Journal-World.

“In recent years, cuts to our state appropriation have affected all aspects of our mission — including our ability to educate students, serve Kansas communities, and make discoveries that change lives and grow the economy — and put upward pressure on tuition,” Robinson said.

In August 2016, Brownback signed a bill calling for $24 million in funding cuts to Kansas public universities, with the state’s largest — KU and Kansas State University — taking the biggest hits. K-State saw its funding slashed by about $5.2 million, while KU’s Lawrence campus took about $7 million in cuts.

The KU Medical Center was also targeted for a $3.7 million cut, resulting in a reduction of $10.7 million across the entire KU system.

Legislators last year restored about $3.3 million of that total, but KU leaders are still hoping to regain the full amount they lost back in 2016.

“That restoration remains the single legislative priority for the Kansas Board of Regents and the state’s six universities,” Robinson said in a statement. “For KU, these funds total $7.4 million.”

“We look forward to working with legislators on the restoration of those cuts, and more broadly, to pursue stable funding for KU,” he added. “Without stable funding, it is difficult for KU to make basic business decisions for the upcoming year and executive long-term planning.”

The University has lost about $46 million in state funding since 2008, according to literature shared by the KU Office of Public Affairs.