Sunday, September 15, 2013

Regents considering higher education budget for next session

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Stung by recent budget cuts, the Kansas Board of Regents is attempting to formulate a new funding plan.

The board is expected to discuss its appropriations request Wednesday and finalize a plan Thursday for submission to Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature.

In recent discussions, board members have said they want to restore funds that were cut and push again for construction of a $75 million health education building at the Kansas University Medical Center.

The regents made a request last year for the building to be financed through a combination of state funding, a FICA refund and private donations. But the Legislature's budget made no commitment of state funding.

During the past legislative session, Republican leaders pushed through approximately $34.3 million in cuts in state funding to public universities over two years.

Gov. Sam Brownback signed those cuts into law, but since has said he will support attempts to restore the funding.

The cuts represented an across-the-board reduction and salary reductions that varied greatly in percentage among the universities.

KU's reduction totaled about $5.3 million over two years, while KUMC's was $8.3 million.

In its new budget request to the regents, KU also is seeking $4.5 million to "stabilize" the expansion to a four-year curriculum at the School of Medicine in Wichita, $2.8 million for course redesign and online technologies and $2.5 million for an institute that will be focused on promoting chemical biology research and drug discovery and development.