Regents to consider requesting $50 million increase in state funding for Kansas universities

photo by: Mike Yoder

The KU campus is pictured Friday, Feburary 6, 2015.

The Kansas Board of Regents is considering asking the state government to increase higher education funding by $50 million for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Regents met Thursday for their annual budget retreat at Kansas State University’s polytechnic campus in Salina, where they began deliberating how much funding they will ask lawmakers to allocate to state universities for the 2021 fiscal year.

In documents provided to the Journal-World, the Regents said the universities asked them to request an increase of $50 million for the entire system of state higher education institutions. That’s different from what the universities have historically done. In past years, rather than asking for a lump sum for the entire system, the universities often made specific funding requests for certain programs.

Joe Monaco, a spokesman for KU, said the funding increases would be used to address cost increases and other needs the university considers “critical,” such as information technology infrastructure, security and facility repairs.

Matt Keith, a spokesman for the Regents, said the proposal is not yet finalized. The Board of Regents will consider approving the funding request during its September meeting, he said.

If approved, the request will be sent to Gov. Laura Kelly to be considered while she crafts a statewide budget proposal for the Legislature. The governor’s budget plan is typically released at the beginning of the legislative session in January.

The $50 million request would be in line with a two-year funding plan the Regents described last year, which called for the state to provide an increase of $85 million over a two-year span. Blake Flanders, president and CEO of the Regents, told the lawmakers in March that the Regents were requesting an increase of $50 million in the 2020 fiscal year budget and an increase of $35 million in the 2021 fiscal year budget.

Instead, the Legislature approved a 2020 fiscal year budget with about $33 million of additional funding for higher education.

During the last state budget process, Flanders told lawmakers that the funding increases would help keep tuition flat at state universities. Tuition at state universities has steadily increased in recent years to cover inflation and previous funding cuts from the state.

In June, after receiving the $33 million increase, the Regents approved tuition plans for the 2019-2020 school year that kept costs flat for in-state students at all of the state universities.

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