Saturday, December 21, 2013

Regents want Legislature to back higher college-degree rate

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA, KAN. — The Kansas Board of Regents is working on asking the Legislature to give a thumbs-up to the board's long-range plan to increase the number of Kansans who have a post-secondary education.

Regent Vice Chairman Kenny Wilk said he would try to put together a resolution for the House and Senate to consider when the 2014 legislative session starts next month.

The resolution, Wilk said, would focus on the board's Foresight 2020 plan to increase from 50 percent to 60 percent the number of Kansans who have a post-secondary certificate or credential or an associate's or bachelor's degree by 2020.

Regent Ed McKechnie said he would prefer the Legislature adopt a state law that tracks the Foresight 2020 plan. He said that would have more force than a resolution.

But Regent Chairman Fred Logan said based on "hallway conversations" there is an interest with some legislative leaders to go with a resolution, which doesn't have the force of law but expresses the sentiment of the Legislature.

Conservative Republicans in charge of the Legislature and higher education officials have been battling in recent months over funding.

Republicans approved $34.3 million in cuts to public universities and Gov. Sam Brownback signed those reductions into law.

In a recent interview with the Lawrence Journal-World, Brownback said of the Legislature, "I'd like to see them stable fund higher education, and I think there is some augmentation pieces that need to take place in targeted areas."