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Brownback doubts overall funding increase for higher ed, but sees additional dollars for specific projects; Governor also sees opportunities for the state in federal budget mess


With state revenue shortfalls looming, Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday said there was little chance of an overall spending increase for higher education.

Gov. Sam Brownback speaking Thursday to the Kansas Board of Regents.

Gov. Sam Brownback speaking Thursday to the Kansas Board of Regents. by Scott Rothschild

Brownback and Kansas University Provost Jeff Vitter visit on Thursday after the governor's talk to the regents.

Brownback and Kansas University Provost Jeff Vitter visit on Thursday after the governor's talk to the regents. by Scott Rothschild

But in a talk with the Kansas Board of Regents, Brownback said the possibility existed to provide additional dollars for specific projects at the schools.

"I really don't think the time is appropriate with the Legislature or with me to ask for base funding," increases, said Brownback.

Brownback, however, said he and the Legislature are focused on trying to target funding for specific projects or programs, such as technical education.

Regents Chairman Tim Emert said Brownback has delivered the same message before and the board has adjusted its "ask" downward.

"We've kind of reached the point that we just hope that we can hold our own and keep funding where it is in this very difficult economic time," Emert said.

In September, the board sent Brownback a recommended $47.1 million in additional funding, which would be about a 6.2 percent increase.

Brownback will work on a state budget later this month to present to the Legislature when the 2013 session starts in January.

Brownback's administration has told state agencies to prepare for tight budgets, and has directed them to include a 10 percent cut in their spending requests for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

And the most recent revenue estimates show the state faces a $327 million revenue shortfall, mostly because of tax cuts Brownback signed into law.

The state is decreasing its individual income tax rates for 2013, with the top rate dropping to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent. Also, the state will exempt the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from income taxes.

Included in the proposed $47.1 million increase in higher education funding is $2.8 million to improve the Wichita campus of the Kansas University School of Medicine, and $1 million as part of a proposed $30 million in state funds to pay for a new health education building at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Also part of the higher ed wish list is a 1 percent pay increase for the 18,000 employees working on university campuses.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Brownback made it clear that any increase in the base funding for higher education was probably not going to happen.

But Gray-Little said she was encouraged by Brownback's re-stated belief in the importance of higher education and "the value and ability of higher education to make a contribution, specifically to job creation, training highly skilled workers, and providing the intellectual energy for the kinds of things that need to happen here in Kansas."

In his comments, Brownback also said he sees opportunities for the state to benefit from the federal government's fiscal problems.

With the federal government's lack of resources, Brownback said the state is negotiating with the feds on Kansas taking a more active role in securing ownership in intellectual properties that spin off the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

He also said the state is negotiating to purchase water storage in federal reservoirs. And he said the state should also investigate whether it could offer to take over some of the prison and military training services at Fort Leavenworth.

"The feds are in a negotiating mood. They need to be because they are out of money," he said.

Asked later where the state, which is projected to see tax revenues drop sharply because of the tax cuts, would come up with the money to do this, Brownback said, "You got to prioritize."

He also said Kansas should become the intellectual center to develop policies to combat human trafficking.

And he called on higher education institutions to produce more entrepreneurs. "We don't have enough start ups in Kansas," he said. "We are toying with the idea of how can you pay the system to encourage more start ups."


deec 5 years, 6 months ago

If the state is broke, how is it supposed to pay for all these new responsibilities being proposed? I know! He'll hand them over to private industry. I'll bet CCA is chomping at the bit to take over operations at Leavenworth.

KEITHMILES05 5 years, 6 months ago

Just a bunch of mucky dumb talk by Brownback. I swear, this man must lay awake at night for ways to spend this state into bankruptcy.

mycatsrightorwrong 5 years, 6 months ago

Brownback is without a doubt the most corrupt Governor in our states history. His least scandalous act occurred in the winter of 2011, when he invited legislators to his house to discuss his agenda, a near violation of our states open meetings act. A more disgusting example: the Kansas arm of Koch funded Americans for Prosperity, which advocates tax breaks for the rich and decreased funding to public education, is headed by Derrick Sontag; the Governor employs his wife as his communications director, ensuring seamless communication between the Brownback and his wealthy supporters. So it should come as no surprise that in 2012, Brownback signed the biggest tax cut in Kansas history, shifting the tax burden from the rich to the middle and lower class. To validate this, he used $75,000 in taxpayer money to hire a right-wing consultant to sell the tax plan to legislators. The analysis was later shown to be completely bogus by the US Congressional Research Service. A week before the 2012 election, Brownback used taxpayer money to send out political mailers under the guise of Department of Revenue brochures, bragging about an accomplishment that was sold with taxpayer money, using a theory that was proven to be snake oil, to help rich people that had bought access to the Governor.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 6 months ago

Money in private hands, no matter how full of money those hands may be, is thought to be key to our country and state's success; therefore, placing money in the money grubbers' fists benefits us all. The trickle down effect of yellow liquid (GOLD) is what will save us. The unaffected will give their be(a)st efforts to create the affectation of success from the effects of their wealth. As long as the wealthy can afford to placate the masses, according to the strident pleas of their serfdom, all will be well. If the serfs of wealthdumb are not pleased with their lot in life then their lots may be confiscated and redistributed among the wealthy and/or indigent masses, giving the wealthy more leeway in their meting out of indulgences to serfs. It's a brilliant system which will allow cake to be distributed to us all and recycled after our decapitation.

texburgh 5 years, 6 months ago

No money for higher Ed means increased tuition: Brownback pays for corporate tax cuts with tuition increases.

Students and their parents suffer, the Kochs win.

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